Rep. Short & Sen. Ericksen Push for Low Cost Alternatives in Climate Plan; Urge Continued Legislative Role in State Climate Actions

On page 1 of their own CLEW report, Rep. Short and Sen. Ericksen call for continued work to “provide legislators with the data necessary to make informed decisions.” Right off the bat they recognize that these decisions are to be made ultimately by the Legislature. They specifically use language in the report such as, Legislation should be enacted…,” and the Legislature should form…” Clearly a stark contrast exists between the two sides in their views over the role of the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

You can view their report in its entirety by clicking here.

Here are the ideas proposed by Rep. Shelly Short and Sen. Doug Ericksen:

  • Incentivize hydroelectric power generation
  • Replace fossils fuels with nuclear generation
  • Promote research and development (R&D) for new technologies
  • Encourage conservation under the Energy Independence Act (I-937)
  • Allow renewable energy credit banking under I-937
  • Modify fuel mix reporting system
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Gov. Inslee Ignores Legislature’s Role; Continues Push for Potentially Costly New State Programs

Governor Inslee has refused for weeks to back away from his consideration of implementing low carbon fuel standards and possibly other actions such as Cap N’ Trade by Executive Order. This has been an issue largely seen as a killer for any transportation deals this year.

In the CLEW report issued this week by Governor Inslee, Senator Ranker, and Rep. Fitzgibbon, the Governor uses this as another opportunity to vaguely state the role he believes the Legislature should have in these decisions. On page 4 the report states, “The Legislature should be actively engaged in this process through an ongoing executive and legislative dialogue on the actions we should take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions….once specific proposals emerge, they will be subject to review by legislators, stakeholders, and our citizens.”

On page 13 the report states, “To meet the Workgroup’s statutory obligation, we have identified a set of actions that will secure the additional emission reductions by the required dates and are recommending that the state move forward to design and implement these actions.” Then as the report is wrapping up and addressing the “Future Process and Timeline” on page 16, it states that “policy designs and economic analysis should be organized and conducted by the executive branch in 2014,” and again reiterates the role of the legislature will be to engage in a dialogue and review proposals.

Brazenly, the notion of Legislators taking action on any of the proposals is ignored, instead limiting the role to having a dialogue and allowing a review of materials. Clearly, the Governor’s lengthy stay in the US Congress somehow never educated him on the concept of separation of powers.

You can view the entire report by clicking here.

The recommendations from the Governor includes:

  • Establish a Cap N’ Trade Program (The report calls it a Cap N’ Market Program)
  • Reduce and Eliminate Power by Coal in Washington State
  • Create an Energy Smart Building Programs – Include incentives and financing for energy neutral development.
  • Finance the use of Clean/Renewable Energy Programs
  • Transportation Adjustments – Accelerate the use of clean cars, cleaner fuels, and change the way we finance transportation. Add Climate Change considerations to Land Use plans.

If you like your toilet…will you be able to keep it?

ImageA bill introduced last week from Rep. Fitzgibbon (D-King County) would adopt a more stringent low flow toilet standard overriding the federal 1.6-gallons-per-flush standard that’s been in place since 1994.

Under HB 2414 (read here), as of January 2016, all toilets, other than institutional and commercial toilets, toilets used by children in day care facilities, and toilets used in bariatric applications, sold, offered for sale, or distributed in this state must be high efficiency toilets,” described as having an “effective flush volume…not exceed[ing] 1.28 gallons.”

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Environment Thursday morning at 8:00am. You can watch the stream live or after it airs over at TVW.org

An additional question that needs to be asked if this passes is where will they try to take us next?

The bill does include some fluffy language about the astronomical level of savings that would occur “if every home in the United States replaced old toilets with new high efficiency toilets,” and as this Huffington Post articlepoints out, California has already put that mandate into law.

As of Jan 1st in California, homeowners can no longer “get final approval for a variety of home improvements — from replacements of windows to a room addition — unless they have low-flow plumbing fixtures throughout their properties.” In addition, by 2017, homes for sale will have to disclose any substandard plumbing devices during the sale, as though the home was infested with termites or mold.

HB 2414 is just another case of Washington State trying to show up the federal government by further limiting the choices of homeowners and builders.

Vague and Contradictory Data Make State’s Climate Report a Policy Rorschach Test | Washington Policy Center

Vague and Contradictory Data Make State’s Climate Report a Policy Rorschach Test | Washington Policy Center

—> Click to read the article from the Washington Policy Center

The Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup (CLEW) was designed earlier this year in a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker and championed by Gov. Jay Inslee as a means to develop a broad range of options (including carbon pricing) to meet the greenhouse gas emission goals set by the legislature in 2008. The legislation indicates that it is supposed to analyze the greenhouse gas emission reduction programs implemented in other jurisdictions in order to find the most cost effective program for our state. Specifically its to do so by evaluating, “the relative impact [of those programs] upon different sectors of the jurisdiction’s economy, including power rates, agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation fuel costs; [and] the impacts upon household consumption and spending, including fuel, food, and housing costs, and program measures to mitigate impacts to low-income populations.”

Unfortunately, the group Chaired by Gov. Inslee has struggled to move forward a comprehensive economic impact analysis since it began meeting in May 2013. It even held two public forums, one in Spokane and one in Seattle before any economic impacts of the proposed tax and regulatory policies were known – perhaps indicating that the economics are more of an afterthought. 

Finally, in early November the consultant hired by CLEW released a report (link: http://alturl.com/ctk5k) containing several snippets of data pasted into a series of tables. However, much of the data contained in the near last minute report (the group is set to vote on recommendations in the coming weeks) comes out of jurisdictions different from Washington and in some cases from studies several years old – making the quality and value of these snippets questionable at best. 

Thankfully, Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center has provided some of his insights in the article linked above.