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    State climate panel hits road bump

    Facing a deadline on addressing carbon emissions, Gov. Jay Inslee and Republicans remain so far apart that a meeting has been postponed.
    Gov. Jay Inslee

    Gov. Jay Inslee Governor's Office

    UPDATE at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 17: Wednesday's climate panel vote has been postponed indefinitely as the widely split panelists try to find a compromise behind the scenes.

    The business community does not like Gov. Jay Inslee's ideas for tackling carbon emission. But a vocal part of the public spoke up for the Democrat's proposals at a hearing that set the stage for decisions Wednesday on the state's climate change policies.

    In fact, members of the public overwhelmingly backed strong action during the hearing Friday in Olympia, as they had at earlier hearings in Seattle and, to a lesser but still strong degree, in Spokane.

    The conflicting strands of thought from the hearings — along with roughly 6,500 written comments — provide the feedback that a legislative panel has as it faces a Wednesday vote on how to tackle carbon emissions in Washington. The emissions contribute to global warming, which has been linked to rising acidity in the sea water killing Washington's baby oysters, and linked to increasing the risk of forest fires.

    A panel of four legislators — Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island; Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale; Rep. Shelly Short ,R-Addy; and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien — will vote Wednesday on whether it will support one of  two radically different sets of recommendations to send to the Washington Legislature. That vote will likely split two-to-two along party lines. Inslee, the fifth member of the panel, does not have a vote on it. Three of the four legislators are required to approve a recommendation for it to become official.

    At Friday's hearing, a panel of business interests and a panel of environmentalists each testified as groups. Then 44 people, out of more than 120 individuals present, testified . The tally: 38 supported immediate action as proposed by Inslee and the Democrats. Four supported the Republicans’ position of opposing Inslee's push. Two could not be easily pigeonholed into a pro or con position.

    During the testimony, Robin Love described Inslee's push for legislation to combat climate change as a "mad hatter's race” and as" steamrolling." However, Rhonda Hunter told the panel: "Please be climate leaders and take action."

    All this was set into motion in 2008, when Washington's Legislature set a goal of reducing the state's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, with further trimming of emissions to 25 percent below Washington's 1990 level by 2035 and to 50 percent below by 2050. So far, nothing has happened. Early this year, the Legislature passed a bill to set up this task force with a Dec. 31 deadline for making recommendations. Wednesday is the final time the task force is scheduled to meet.

    A fundamental clash has developed: The Republicans want to change the emission-reduction targets that the state adopted in 2008 while the Democrats want to put a cap on Washington's carbon emissions and install a cap-and-trade program for the state's industries. Neither side likes the other's proposals.

    Ericksen and Short want more incentives provided for using hydroelectric power. More cost analyses should be conducted on reducing greenhouse gases. And they want to explore the climate benefits of nuclear power and "clean" technologies.

    Meanwhile, Inslee, Ranker and Fitzgibbon propose putting a legal cap on all of Washington's carbon emissions, with a cap-and-trade program included to allow corporations to juggle emissions among themselves. They suggested that coal imported to Washington power plants from out-of-state be counted as a source of carbon emissions to be kept within Inslee's proposed cap. Energy efficiency measures would also be tackled.

    Under a cap-and-trade program, Washington would have an overall annual limit to its carbon dioxide emissions. Limits would be set for specific geographic areas. Firms would obtain rights for specific amounts of emissions in those areas and could trade their rights. The legislative panel's technical consultant, the Virginia-based firm Leidos, has reported the most potent proposed policy would be to install a cap-and-trade program.

    At Friday's hearing, most of the panel of business interests opposed the proposed carbon emissions cap and the cap-and-trade proposal.

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    Posted Mon, Dec 16, 10:18 p.m. Inappropriate

    Smart people (as opposed to the corrupt "smart growth" types given to us by the "progressive" servants of the real estate lobby) know that Inslee and his backers have no interest in climate change, and never will. It is a ruse, and it always has been. And frankly, I can't blame them, given that any true climate change initiatives have to be far reaching, as opposed to fake band-aids for urban yuppies.

    Why not play to the "progressive" crowd, if that's how idiotic and gullible they choose to be? If I had nothing better to do than collect $167,000 a year to warm a chair in Olympia, I might do it too. But just between you and me, Jay Inslee, I once ran into a former governor of Montana at a Democratic Convention. Alone, up in the rafters. Nice guy. I bought him a hot dog, and we shared some laughs about the whole thing being a complete dog and pony show.

    This latest Washington State "initiative" is Chapter 4,752 in a book that will never be completed: "How Many Ways Can We Devise to Raise Taxes?" This has become the sole mission of "progressives" -- to join with Republicans in the elimination of the middle class. Ain't it funny how yesterday's principles become today's tossed-off talking points?


    Posted Tue, Dec 17, 12:10 p.m. Inappropriate

    Stang, when are you going to figure out that public hearings are an utter farce, and stop reporting on them as if they actually mean something? Are you really that stupid, or are you just a shill for those in power?


    Posted Tue, Dec 17, 12:48 p.m. Inappropriate

    In this case, maybe we can pick Door #1 AND Door #2


    Posted Tue, Dec 17, 7:09 p.m. Inappropriate

    There's no avoiding change-- the best strategy for businesses to compete is to have courage and change before the competition. Big changes are going to happen as we put our shoulders to the wheel and transition our system.


    Posted Wed, Dec 18, 10:34 a.m. Inappropriate

    The market punishes expensive virtues. If Washington businesses "go green" before their competition, the Washington businesses' products and services will be more expensive than their competitors' and the vast majority of customers will flee to the better bargain. So competing in such a, uh, climate will take courage. The courage to face insolvency.


    Posted Thu, Dec 19, 6:52 a.m. Inappropriate

    The carbon tax that British Columbia enacted proves you wrong though. BC's economy is outperforming as it reduces its greenhouse pollution.

    We also need to look at opportunities that build a stronger economy making use of assets that are unique to our state -- say, for example, recruiting energy companies to develop new nuclear capabilities in the Tri-Cities region (see http://goo.gl/1pnMI1). I don't mean building more old designs that Fukushima, Chernobyl and Hanford that have proven untrustworthy, but working to innovate and prove up clean ideas as presented in http://youtu.be/uK367T7h6ZY and http://youtu.be/JaF-fq2Zn7I-- if they're honest/not vapor. Energy companies are feeling increasing investor heat to transition to non-fossil energy, and our state might just help them change-- we just need address the problem head-on and not be so afraid to get going on it.

    I also like the idea of attracting companies like http://www.shweeb-can.com/ to our innovative, can-do state, to get to work on a cleaner business ecosystem that could benefit everyone.


    Posted Wed, Dec 18, 10:26 p.m. Inappropriate

    It must be comforting to know that the EPA climate change expert has been arrested for fraud. Just another example of good government working hand in hand for progress in solving today's extremely complex issues.



    Posted Thu, Dec 19, 7:30 a.m. Inappropriate

    Bentler - yes, interesting comments. Many originally opposed to nuclear are now taking a second look at some of the updated designs. France, who has a high proportion of their energy produced via reactors, uses two standardized designs - a private utility gets to chose from one of these, which simplifies things.

    While hydro, wind, and solar can make contributions - the problem is they can be unpredictable (hydro less so) and except for hydro, cannot provide the base demand. BPA grid operators are going crazy trying to deal with the contribution of wind farms in OR and WA because of their unpredictability. And when energy is needed in the winter when it gets cold - when a high pressure system parks overs us, the wind doesn't blow.

    Of course the nuclear problem is - what to do with the waste and how safe can you make the plants. Indeed, a sticky problem. Making serious reductions in greenhouse gasses is going to take efforts on the state, national, and international level. I'm not overly confident this will occur.

    To date the actual, observed effects of climate change are out-pacing the predictive models. Not encouraging. If you think implementing changes to reduce greenhouse gas output will be expensive - just wait for the cost of infrastructure, loss of property, and mass movement of people that will be required (is being required already). Let's just say that if you own shoreline property NOW is the time to sell.


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