Our Sponsors:

Read more »

Our Members

Many thanks to Lorelea Hudson and Ariel Glassman some of our many supporters.

ALL MEMBERS »

Obama and Gov. Jay Inslee: in sync on climate change measures?

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy visited with the governor Thursday but wouldn't tip her hand on new power plant rules.
Gov. Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee Governor's Office

How well will Gov. Jay Inslee's carbon emissions proposals mesh with national efforts to deal with climate change?

That will be answered June 2 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveils its proposed regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act. President Barack Obama ordered the EPA to create the regulations as part of his plans to deal with climate change issues.

Making a visit in Seattle on Thursday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy declined to give any details of the upcoming regulations.

"The rule is not out yet," she said. "I'm not going to make news on what it'll be like."

McCarthy met with Inslee and roughly 25 Washington environmental and business leaders Thursday to discuss tackling carbon emissions. McCarthy criticized opposition to limiting carbon emissions, saying, "They're trying to preserve their right to be wasteful, instead of trying to preserve the planet."

Gov. Inslee, who is in the midst of planning his next steps to control greenhouse gases, said, "This is a year of action to reduce carbon emissions."

So far, 10 states — California and a regional coalition of nine New England and Mid-Atlantic states — have established limits to industrials carbon emissions and have set up cap-and-trade programs to encourage innovative ways to deal with the limits.

Inslee wants Washington to become the 11th state to install a formal cap-and-trade program to control carbon emissions.

Last month, Inslee appointed a 21-member advisory panel to give him ideas for a climate change agenda to push during the 2015 legislative session. He created the panel after a 2013 legislative panel on climate deadlocked, along Republican and Democratic lines, on different approaches to dealing with climate change. The Democrats wanted to explore carbon emissions limits and cap-and-trade programs. Republicans — backed by major business lobby groups such as the Association of Washington Business — opposed those measures. Instead, Republican legislators wanted to explore adding more nuclear power and revoking the state's 2008 carbon emissions reduction law.

In 2008, 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. If no new remedial measures are tackled and the state' population growth continues, state discharges will blast away all the goals for reductions set five years ago.

Carbon emissions have been linked to acid rain, which falls into oceans, lakes and rivers. Acid rain is increasing the acidity of the water along Washington's shores including Puget Sound, which has begun killing baby oysters and harming other shellfish harvested in the Northwest. Washington’s shellfish industry is worth about $270 million annually.

In 2013, the legislative panel's technical consultant reported that the most potent proposed policy would be to install a cap-and-trade program in which Washington would have an overall annual limit on 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.

While EPA's McCarthy was being mum about the upcoming Obama administration regulations, there are indications that the rules will move in many of the same directions as Inslee has in mind. Seattle-based Grist, a national leader in environmental news coverage, reported Wednesday that the rules for power plants will include state limits on total carbon emissions while trying to allow the states and utilities considerable flexibility on how to meet the limits.

The EPA is also likely to allow the states to join the California or Northeast cap-and-trade structures, or create their own new programs. If that's the case, Inslee could be quite happy. But for now, the EPA isn't saying what its rules will involve.

John Stang covers state government for Crosscut. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.


Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!

Comments:

Posted Fri, May 23, 8:01 a.m. Inappropriate

Both Inslee and Obama are clueless on a major exacerbating factor of climate change---that the impact of the population "footprint" on climate and ecosystems is heavier with the addition of millions of humans in the U.S. Both ignore population growth factors. Inslee in a meeting as a House representative said that he had limited the number of his children so he contributed to limiting population, ignoring the fact that his votes on illegal and legal immigration contributed to what has constituted 90 plus percent of the U.S. population growth in the last 30 plus years.

Posted Fri, May 23, 9:30 a.m. Inappropriate

And the solution is? Even if we could close the door to immigration, which seems a fallacy, it would have zero effect on population growth outside of our borders. Seems the solution there is what it always has been - education to bring up living standards, better medical care, pre-natal and infant care, and birth control.

That said. Even if population growth stopped right now in the US, the energy consumption per capita here is off the charts compared to the rest of the world. So I see some merit in reducing carbon outputs.

However, I can't say I'm optimistic. We already have passed the tipping point on climate change and need to think more about adaptation and infrastructure measures. Even if we went to zero emissions today human-induced climate change would move forward for a century or two before slowing : http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S38/51/51I69/index.xml?section=topstories

So, we're kinda nibbling around the edges. My advice - don't buy shoreline property and if you have it, get rid of it.

Treker

Posted Fri, May 23, 12:22 p.m. Inappropriate

"And the solution is?...- education to bring up living standards..."

If the world has learned anything from all the world conferences and summits on population and the environment is that chasing a myth far and hard enough eventually leads to wisdom.

Cities and Environment, Boone and Modarres, 2006:
By Rio (92) contentiousness involved interrelations between the environment, population, and women's rights, with consumption in the background. By Cairo (94) women's rights continued, but the environment and population decoupled as awareness shifted toward consumption, particularly urban consumption.

The real question:
"To what extent is production in developing countries aimed at consumption in developed countries? Both need to control their consumption."

Unabated population leads to disaster, so does not paying attention to who produces, who consumes, who inherits development's burden.

Rejection of growing global wisdom displays the true insularity of the developed countries pushing globalization.

afreeman

Posted Fri, May 23, 9:08 a.m. Inappropriate

Obama and Inslee in sync? Why didn't Obama appoint Inslee Energy Czar if he thought he had anything to add? Surely the Apollo's Fire co-author should have been appointed to head the nations effort to attain energy independence and sustainability. Or maybe Obama knew something about the abilities of Inslee that we are only now realizing as he makes his way through his first term as Governor.

Cameron

Posted Sat, May 24, 6:38 a.m. Inappropriate

Great discussion with Inslee at http://climatesolutions.org/cs-journal/the-space-beyond-denial-before-despair

Bentler

Login or register to add your voice to the conversation.

Join Crosscut now!
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow Us »