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Gov. Inslee should call a halt to all new oil infrastructure

To reestablish Washington's green cred - and take on climate change - the governor should impose a moratorium on building any new oil infrastructure.
Can Jay Inslee keep coal and oil export terminals out of Washington?

Can Jay Inslee keep coal and oil export terminals out of Washington? Credit: Wiki Commons

Two weeks ago, Cinerama screened an episode of Years of Living Dangerously, Showtime's new documentary series about climate change. The series casts Gov. Jay Inslee as the climate champion in contrast to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who responded forcefully to Hurricane Sandy, but called its causes “esoteric” and implied that real governors rebuild houses; they don't spend time wondering whether doing so will set communities up for anoher round of danger and heartbreak.

By now, even those of us who have been asleep at the wheel know that the most recent National Climate Assessment warned that things are very bad and getting worse. We know that the following week, scientists unveiled two different reports which agree that it is now impossible to stop the West Antarctic Ice Sheet from melting over the coming centuries, thus raising sea levels by a dozen or more feet. And we know that shortly after those findings were made public, a military advisory board issued yet another report, introduced by Michael Chertoff (former Secretary of Homeland Security) and Leon Panetta (former Secretary of Defense), which calls the risks of climate change “as serious as any challenge we have faced.”

Despite these warnings, some people persist in seeing fossil fuels — their sale, transport, export, refinement and burning — as a neutral matter of power and jobs. As if, without them, we won’t have power or jobs of any kind. As if it doesn’t matter that by continuing to burn fossil fuels we are putting kids around the world in danger, not to mention adults in New Jersey and many, many other places. As if we aren't setting ourselves up for a future of ocean acidification, landslides and wildfires, rising sea levels and a host of other upheavals. What will South Park be like in a few decades when high tide regularly sends the waters of Puget Sound spilling into its streets?

We can’t fool ourselves anymore: Either fossil fuels are over, or we are. It’s that simple.

Happily, Gov. Inslee has a chance to take action which is both dramatic and meaningful, and in doing so restore Washington State to its place as an environmental leader. The governor can impose a moratorium on all new oil infrastructure projects in the state until the risks have been adequately addressed. In a December 2013 letter, 13 environmental groups asked him to do just that.

Jay Inslee has indeed been a climate champion, and the crowd at the Cinerama screening showed its appreciation for his efforts. Admiration wasn’t all he got, though. Midway through the questions, several activists unfurled a banner from the balcony: “Governor Inslee: Moratorium on Oil Trains Now!” After the moderated question period was over another activist shouted out: Was it true that it’s within his power to stop the proposed new oil terminals? The governor dodged the question, referring, as he had earlier, to his own concerns and to making sure there’s public input, and conflating oil trains with the coal trains on which he’s taken a somewhat more forceful stance.

The governor would no doubt like to keep his job, and become a national climate leader too. He knows that doing so will require striking a fine balance. Powerful forces want us to believe that unless we become a West Coast hub for coal and oil shipment, Washington will be lucky to have any working-class jobs at all. If we let those voices dominate the debate, the governor and the rest of us will be sunk (literally, in some cases).

But given the steady drumbeat of bad climate news, Gov. Inslee would be foolish not to use the moratorium as a way to step forward as one of the nation’s most resolute truth-tellers. It's a natural fit for a green-leaning governor and an innovative state. Washington has been a leader in creating green jobs, which employ far more local people than the fossil fuel industry does.


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Comments:

Posted Sun, Jun 1, 1:03 p.m. Inappropriate

Ah, a Seattle poet. Maybe the "progressive" Seattle poet should read what the eminent climatologist has to say about the U.N.'s latest fraudulent climate report. The "progressive" poet should be sure to read the climatologist's biography, and scroll down to Figure 1.

Not that any of it will matter, because "progressives" are full-fledged members of the Church of Climate Change, and no actually evidence will dislodge their religious faith.

http://tinyurl.com/unclirpt

NotFan

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 12:22 p.m. Inappropriate

Correction: the eminent ecologist

Thanks for the link.

afreeman

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 12:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Why are you hiding a wattsupwiththat URL behind tinyurl? The sourcing for John Christy's graph at that page is not easy to find. The cited "State of the Climate in 2012" is at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2013BAMSStateoftheClimate.1 if you want to look. Let me know if you find anything supportive of the ridiculous graph at WUWT.

There's another version of Christy's graph with even less sourcing at a self-described right-wing news site: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/climate-scientist-73-un-climate-models-wrong-no-global-warming-17
If you compare the two versions of the graph you'll notice that the lines on the two graphs don't match. Not surprising.

With a bit of looking, I found Christy's work on the subject actually published with his name as co-author (along with lead author and well-known denier Patrick Michaels):
http://arxiv.org/pdf/1309.5164.pdf ("Assessing the consistency between short-term global temperature trends in observations and climate model projections")
While this paper is skeptical about the accuracy of climate models, you will find nothing in it to support the claims made in Christy's name at WUWT, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere in the denialist blogosphere.

If any reader wants to get into the details of climate modeling and how well they have predicted changes, or not, here are two sources:
• Working Group I contribution to the IPCC 5th Assessment Report "Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis", Chapter 9: Evaluation of Climate Models (Available at http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/ -- dozens of authors, 200 pages, numerous graphics, among other conclusions: "Climate and Earth System models are based on physical principles, and they reproduce many important aspects of observed climate. Both aspects contribute to our confidence in the models’ suitability for their application in detection and attribution studies (Chapter 10) and for quantitative future predictions and projections (Chapters 11–14).")
• http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/fifteen/ ("whether or not there is a “pause” in global warming recently" -- heavy on the math)

Let us know when you come up with some "actually evidence" to support your attack on the "Church of Climate Change."

louploup

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 6 p.m. Inappropriate

97% of all climate scientists agree that climate change is primarily caused by human activity. The UN's IPCC report is a synthesis of nearly ALL of the scientific work being done worldwide on climate change. The debate is over, no blog or singular outlying scientist can change that.

We all wish you were right and that climate change wasn't real, but denial will not help us leave a better planet for future generations.

Posted Sun, Jun 1, 10:12 p.m. Inappropriate

The number for Governor Inslee is 360-902-4111 -- you can call to let him know how you feel about a moratorium on any new oil trains, refineries, and terminals in Washington State. Since the fossil fuel companies may not be getting their pipelines, they may be turning to oil by rail. Maybe that's why the number of oil trains is growing by the month here in Washington. The point is we have to start leaving fossil fuels in the ground -- and adopting conservation and clean green energy instead.

Posted Sun, Jun 1, 11:35 p.m. Inappropriate

So, Mary, you don't own a car but ride a bicycle wherever you go?

NotFan

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 7:29 a.m. Inappropriate

Anyone with a Nissan Leaf can tell you they are running on electricity for gasoline-gallon-equivalent prices we haven't seen since the 1970s.

And what can you say to an individual like NotFan when temperatures are measurably rising across the planet, the hottest years on record have been in the last 15, the hottest decade has been the past one, storm intensity is measurably rising worldwide, droughts are growing more frequent and common (which we all feel at the grocery check-out), and the ocean is measurably 30% more acidic than before we began mass consumption of fossil fuels? Nothing that will change NotFan's mind, for sure. But maybe others will notice that when someone needs to throw around words like "fradulent" and call scientific data "religious faith," they might be operating on a faith basis themselves without much other to stand on, or much to do but throw epithets.

Then there is a self-interest argument for stopping the oil trains:

From Wikipedia -
"The Lac-Mégantic derailment occurred in the town of Lac-Mégantic, located in the Eastern Townships of the Canadian province of Quebec, at approximately 01:15 EDT,on July 6, 2013, when an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars. Forty-two people were confirmed dead, with five more missing and presumed dead.[8] More than 30 buildings in the town's centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed.[2] Initial newspaper reports described a 1 km blast radius."

Trains carrying the same stuff run by the stadiums and in the tunnel under Seattle. More will run if they are not stopped. Rolling the dice.

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 6:10 p.m. Inappropriate

When confronted with doom sayers (the opposite of "deniers" I guess) one of my favorite bloggers has a standard reply: "I will believe it's a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis"
What Ms. Johnson is urging Governor Inslee to do is a bit of economic theater that may or may not be legal and would accomplish nearly nothing. If the consumption of fossil fuels is destructive then why confine your efforts to the producers/distributors? the answer is obvious, politicians like Inslee want to appear to be fighting ocean acidification but they don't want to irritate the voters who actually burn the fuel ("it's the fault of all those big guys who force you to drive your car and travel to Shanghai and heat your big house; we'll fix 'em"). Can governors whose states export coal and crude oil start refusing to patronize Boeing's airplanes? maybe ban them from their airports? if I were the governor of Montana I would certainly bring that up in any meeting with Governor Inslee. Well that's exceedingly far fetched but it does illustrate the hypocrisy of some, perhaps most of, the local doom sayers. Incidentally that Nissan Leaf burns 13% coal if it is recharged in Washington State and more if you travel into California and more still in Montana, Utah, Wyoming.

kieth

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 4:42 a.m. Inappropriate

If you want to eliminate fossil fuels and the infrastructure that supports it, perhaps the thousands of people involved in that industry in this State can become poets.

Cameron

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 7:53 a.m. Inappropriate

It's time for the energy industry to start heavily investing the billions in solar and, particularly, wind. The up front cost is pretty high but the maintenance and "fuel supply" are very low. Long term, they will reap in profits.

To make solar and wind effective, they need to be consistent and reliable. How? The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't shine at night.

The answer is to somewhat overbuild capacity and use the extra energy generated to pump water uphill to reservoirs. During slack times, this water can generate hydroelectric power. Reservoirs can be pit mines, underground mines, or conventional dams.

Getting the existing industry to shift would be much easier than mothballing them. If they join the renewable crowd, they'll stop fighting it!

pragmatic

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 8:54 a.m. Inappropriate

Editor: Thank you for adding "Op/Ed" to the article. Now it is clear that this article is the opinion of Crosscut, not to be confused with strictly factual reporting.

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 9:01 a.m. Inappropriate

Governor Inslee has the authority to impose the moratorium, if not express authority then implied.

Certainly, with respect to EFSEC proceedings where he is "the decider." he can direct EFSEC to suspend further action until Ecology prepares a programatic EIS that considers cumulative impacts not only at the Tesoro Project in Vancouver but in Gray's Harbor and elsewhere.

So what is the worst case scenario: He imposes the moratorium and the Court says he lacks authority. Bad result? Not exactly. The Governor lost one while fighting for our climate and to protect the health, safety, and environment of the citizens. I count this not as a loss but as standing strong for what he presumably believes.

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 10:41 a.m. Inappropriate

The Grays Harbor facilities don't rise to the level of EFSEC review, and it would be illegal as a decision maker in the process for him to publicly predjudge the permit application.

He may reject all permits that reach his desk from EFSEC if he chooses, but he can not do so publicly beforehand.

People should stop asking the governor to violate the law. If they do not like the law, change the legislature.

gomer

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 10:37 a.m. Inappropriate

No, it is not in the Governor's power to declare a moratorium. He may decline to act on applications that reach his desk, but it would be illegal for him to prejudge any permit application.

And, he can not regulate what rail traffic travels throught the state.

gomer

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 3:39 p.m. Inappropriate

As I read this pathetic little piece, I was thinking that the author must be about 14 years old. Then I saw that she is a poet.

So, now Crosscut is publishing the musings of 14-year-old poets?

Is anyone supposed to care what she thinks about fossil fuels, for some reason?

Lincoln

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 6:03 p.m. Inappropriate

I liked this piece. I think it is well done. The comment above is unnecessarily rude.

Posted Mon, Jun 2, 8:32 p.m. Inappropriate

It's all they have.

ivan

Posted Tue, Jun 3, 8:52 a.m. Inappropriate

When the criticism only includes name-calling - who's the 14 yr old in the room?

Treker

Posted Tue, Jun 3, 9:42 p.m. Inappropriate

It's too late Emily. We've passed the tipping point quite awhile ago, and there's no setting the WABAC machine to 1815. It appears that we're in for a 1000 yr period of intense hell, at least that the prediction from NOAA, read it here http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090126_climate.html

The good news is we've been this warm before and survived, read it here https://www.equinoxpub.com/journals/index.php/JGA
Subscribe and get even more information.

Perhaps we should focus on survival techniques instead of wasting time worrying about Gov. Inslee trying to save Washington State single handedly, when it's already to late for him and his white horse.

Djinn

Posted Wed, Jun 4, 7:35 a.m. Inappropriate

Brilliant Einstein!

So - some stone age artifacts are being found as glaciers retreat indicating that, indeed, glaciers grew and retreated in the past. A stunning assertion!

Oh but yea. One minor fact is being ignored. This is the first time that man-made actions are driving climate change and in an accelerated fashion. Survive it? More than likely. Costly? You bet - you might want to do a little research on the population density of the world, oh, say before the advent of the iron age, compared today - then maybe make a map of vulnerable populations due to water shortage, desertification, crop reductions (can't pick up and move the corn belt) and coastal inundation.

Oh wait - that was already done by several sources already. That should save you some time.

Religious zealots will pick and choose information in a continual attempt to keep their unsupported, faith-based view from being distracted by facts. Science, on the other hand, is continually taking in data as it adjusts its hypothesis to best match improved observations and predictions. It's a pretty starkly defined landscape.

Always interesting to see how the various arms of the faith based crowd plays out.

Treker

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