News Local Environment
posted by June 6 at 10:07 AMon
For a second I thought the Seattle Times was about to go for it this morning.
Their lead editorial today begins: “President George W. Bush is not fooling any of his G-8 colleagues in Germany with his belated call to set long-term goals reducing emissions related to global warming. The same is true here at home.”
When they said “here at home” I thought they were about to take it to the 2007 state legislature for failing to act like it’s 2007.
Nah. Easier to bash George Bush, I guess.
Look, thanks to the fact that our state’s leaders chickened out on the necessary reality check, voters are about to vote on a $17 billion (or $37 billion, if you measure it in year of expenditure dollars) roads and transit package.
I wrote about this blackmail package two weeks ago and ECB’s got the latest coming out in today’s paper. And having just come back from a week on the east coast (transit options everywhere… as well as diversity, density, and good pizza people), I’ve gotta say, our inability to get smart about the environment is maddening, especially given the Dems’ control of Olympia.
Oh well on that. As for seizing Al Gore’s 2007 Academy Award–winning moment and doing something real about the environment? This is the supermajority’s biggest hoax this session. Under the guise of a “Strategic Framework for Action,” the Democrats held a press conference and passed a law calling to convene a panel to come up with a way to limit emissions.
Okay, I’m being a little unfair. They did pass an emissions cap governing power plants that enter into new contracts with utilities. I’m not sure how much CO2 this limited rule will actually capture, though, given that the cap doesn’t govern existing contracts. Nor am I sure how relevant reining in utility emissions is in Washington State. According to a February report from the state’s Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development, emissions from utilities make up just 16 percent of the 88.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, including CO2, our state produces annually. The real culprit, according to the report, is “transportation” (cars)—which makes up 45 percent of our emissions.
“It’s a little embarrassing,” one of the report’s authors told me. “Our overall emissions are lower than most states, but we’re on the high end for car emissions.”
True: According to the most recent data from the federal Energy Information Administration, 52.4 percent of the Evergreen state’s CO2 emissions come from transportation, making us one of the top five offenders, along with California (59.4 percent). Nationwide, the average is 32.7 percent.
On this score, the supermajority Democrats blew it. They not only failed to put a check on car dependency, they actually accelerated the problem. Rather than putting guidelines on the $7 billion RTID roads package they authorized—like demanding the projects assess transit alternatives (a bill that died in the house)—they officially made transit dependent on building roads, by linking RTID to light rail under one ballot title. Meanwhile, they approved another $7.5 billion roads package, including $915 million for work on the Alaskan Way Viaduct that may lock in a highway option there.
When the task force on emissions finally comes back next year with recommendations on how to lower CO2 their first suggestion should be aimed at the Democrats: less hot air, more action.