Spokane’s Chris Marr Gives I-937 a Nice Green Shiving…….

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Nothing is more infuriating than Democrats who act like Republicans.

Way back in 2006, 52% of the voters in Washington State approved Initiative 937, which required the utilities operating inside the state to generate 15% of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2020.

Not surprisingly, since the passage of I-937, the utilities have been in overdrive, working every legislative angle, desperately trying to wiggle out of any solid commitment to green power.

Enter Chris Marr, Democrat, the utilities best friend forever, and the Washington State Senator representing the 6th Legislative District.

Mr. Marr has introduced  SB 5840, which through a little green washing and a lot of fuzzy math effectively guts I-937, allowing the utilities to wave their hands and– presto change-o –the production of 3% of their power from renewable sources suddenly becomes…wait for it…exactly the same as 15%.

How is this slight of hand accomplished?

First, utilities would be allowed to count the energy produced by existing hydro-power projects as new renewable sources.

Second, utilities could claim credit for renewable energy produced outside of the Northwest.

Finally, if a utility spends money on conservation programs, the power saved through these efforts could count as a renewable energy source.

But wait, conservation rocks, how could it be a bad thing.

Call me sceptical, but any politician who has no problem fudging a 15% mandate for green power into a 3% validation of the status quo, will probably not loose much sleep if the utilities are allowed to monkey with their numbers for energy conservation in order to boost their renewable energy count.

And by any politician, I mean someone like Chris Marr.

He may be a Democrat, but Mr. Marr is a little iffy on whole “supporting the will of the voters” thing, especially if it forces his dead-ender buddies down at the Public Utility District Association to come to grips with the energy realities of the 21st century.


Once Again Washington State’s Clean Energy Initiative Is Under Attack…….

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First, the utilities lobbied Washington State’s  Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED), begging for rules which would allow each utility to implement I-937 as it saw fit, rather than meet the voter approved mandate of  generating 15% of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2020.

Now, these same obstructionists have taken their case to the Washington State Legislature.

This time the utilities plan to weaken I-937 by allowing Washington’s existing infrastructure of hydropower to count toward their renewable energy goal.

Once again, it’s time for the voters of Washington State to speak up.  We must let our representatives know a weakened clean energy initiative is  not what we voted for when we approved I-937 in 2006.

The folks from Yes! on I-937 have a great summary of why this is would be a raw deal for the citizens of our state.

Legislators considering revisions to I-937 must hear now from the thousands of supporters who helped pass the initiative. We need to tell our legislators that we expect I-937’s renewable and energy efficiency standards to be fully met or even strengthened, not diluted.

Tell you legislators to:

    • Preserve voters’ intent through I-937 to increase development of new renewable energy and energy efficiency.
    • Keep Washington a leader in the national effort to establish a clean energy economy.
    • Protect the state’s and Governor Chris Gregoire’s single most important tool for curbing global warming and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Do not allow special interests that opposed the initiative at the ballot box to weaken the clean energy standards.

Click here to let your voice be heard.

Lessons from Another Year of Flooding Around Puget Sound | The Seattle Times…….

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In order to prepare for stronger and more frequent storms, the Puget Sound region must rethink how it manages stormwater by encouraging low-impact-development solutions which enhance the land’s natural ability to absorb,cleanse and manage run-off. This new approach will benefit the environment, reduce costly flooding, and protect our communities

read more | digg story

Governor Gregoire: No Change for Climate After All…….

The sky may be falling in Olympia, but no one cares if it is heating up.

Evidently, the state’s projected revenue shortfall was enough to spook Olympia’s timid Democratic leadership into giving short shrift to the progressive promises which resulted in record voter turnout and an Obama landslide in Washington State.

Case in point: Washington’s proposed cap and trade plan.  Gregoire has now decided to give away pollution credits rather than auction then off.

A report released Monday by several state agencies relies heavily on a regional cap-and-trade program to fight climate change.

Concerned about the bad economy and pressure on businesses, Gregoire is leaning toward giving away most of the pollution credits, rather than auctioning them off as environmentalists had hoped.

Makes perfect sense.  When faced with a revenue shortfall, it’s best to say no to more revenue.  But wait, there’s more:

The Climate Action Team, which Gregoire convened last year to come up with concrete ways to fight climate change, earlier this month called for more energy-efficient buildings, compact urban development, better collection of recycled materials, reduced driving and revised development rules to account for greenhouse gas emissions.

Janice Adair of the state Department of Ecology said the state won’t pursue some of those recommendations next year, such as giving tax credits to buildings that reduce energy use.

Not only will the Governor remove the incentive for businesses to reduce their pollution by requiring them to pay for the amount of greenhouse gases they create, but–without the revenue from the cap and trade program–the state will be unable to reward businesses who do the right thing and build green to reduce their energy use.

Great plan.

The Corporate Oligarchy is Begging for a Boot Ride…….

No one could have predicted this:

“These mortgages have been considered more safe and sound for portfolio lenders than many fixed rate mortgages,” David Schneider, home loan president of Washington Mutual, told federal regulators in early 2006. Two years later, WaMu became the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

Would lead to this:

JPMorgan Chase is laying off 3,400 Washington Mutual employees in Seattle, according to spokesman Tom Kelly. That’s more than 80 percent of the 4,300 people it employs in the city.

And this:

As it shrinks staff, JPMorgan will empty most of the leased space in downtown Seattle used by WaMu, the biggest occupant of downtown office property. It may even empty a big piece of its 2-year-old WaMu Center headquarters tower, now owned by JPMorgan.

That’s triple, trickle-down action!

Don’t Let the BIAW Steal This Election!…….

Instead of smearing Darcy Burner, The Seattle Times could be digging into a much more relevant scandal lurking in the past this election season.

For instance, I would love to see the Times do an investigative piece on the connection between Former U.S. Attorney John McKay, Dino Rossi, and Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department.

Remember the whole U.S. Attorney’s scandal? It occurred when George Bush decided to politicized the Justice Department and use its power to pursue the objectives of the Republican Party.

Well, one of the attorneys fired was John McKay, who was the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, until he refused to pursue bogus charges of election fraud in the 2004 Washington State Governor’s race.

And who pushed the absurd notion of rampant election tampering?  Wait for it…..why the BIAW of course.  This is what The Seattle Times has to say about the scandal in March of 2007:

McKay said one of the first actions he took on the 2004 race came in response to a request from one of his harshest critics.

Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), contacted McKay’s office in late 2004 or early 2005, alleging he had evidence of forged signatures on absentee ballots cast for Gregoire.

After talking to McCabe, McKay said, he called Mark Ferbrache, supervisory special agent at the FBI, and asked him to assign Special Agent Joe Quinn to review McCabe’s evidence.

McCabe confirms he received a phone call from Quinn a few days later, and McCabe sent him documents supporting his forgery allegations.

But McCabe remains dissatisfied with Quinn’s response.

“[Quinn] seemed distracted, almost bothered that he was talking to me about it,” McCabe said. “He never instituted an investigation; no one was ever questioned.

“It started me wondering whether the U.S. Attorney was doing his job,” McCabe said.

McCabe subsequently made repeated calls on the White House to fire McKay. McKay said Quinn examined McCabe’s materials “and it was not the conclusion of the FBI that they were forgeries.”

Very interesting, don’t you think?

So, Tom McCabe, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), not only claimed that he had evidence of election tampering, but when this tactic to reverse the outcome of the governor’s race fell through, he lobbied the White House to have McKay fired.

Less we forget, this would be the same BIAW which this year has put 7 million toward Rossi’s attempt to unseat Governor Gregoire and is currently embroiled in an illegal campaign fund raising scandal regarding the same race.

So, which is bigger news?

The fact that Harvard offers joint degrees rather than minors, or the Rossi Campaign’s link to the U.S. attorney scandal, and the Republican tacit of claiming voter fraud while actually pursuing voter suppession.

Dino Rossi: Washington State’s Own George Bush In-Waiting…….

Do you even wonder how George Bush could possibly become President of The United States.  Twice.

It seems preposterous–now.  After eight long years of Bush misrule, Americans have learned the hard way what is at stake if they carelessly pull the lever.

At least on the national level, Americans understand that elections matter and the candidates’ positions on the issues are crucial.  Voters have little patience for the superficial controversies, inside the beltway “analysis”, and negative ads breathlessly reported by the corporate media as political news.

In spite of all that, the corporate press desperately clings to their cult of personality political reporting.  Issues are ignored in favor of quick pieces on superficial controversies or the overall likability of the candidates.  After all, the pundits should decide if the issues are really important to the voters.

Don’t believe me.  Just take a look at the Washington State governor’s race.

The local media is gaga over Dino Rossi’s folksy charm.  Rossi is just such a gosh-darn likable guy!  Never mind Rossi’s extreme views or that he is currently embroiled in an illegal campaign fund raising scandal.

You see, Dino Rossi likes to associate with groups like the BIAW (Building Industry Association of Washington).  Incidentally, if you care about the environment- or believe global warming is real–then the BIAW thinks you are a terrorist.

The BIAW has also been accused of illegally coordinating attack ads with Rossi in an attempt to unseat Governor Gregoire.

I’m unclear why the BIAW is gunning for Gregoire, but I suspect they are not fond of her environmental record.  After all, Rossi is no friend to the environment, having earned a 32% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters.

As a true Bush Republican, Rossi recently unveiled his plan to fight global warming, which would actually increase the state’s carbon dioxide emissions.  Fuse has the low down:

Our analysis was alarming. Far from Rossi’s assertion that his plan would remove millions of tons of carbon pollution from the air, the analysis found just the opposite. When you do the math, it shows Rossi’s global warming plan would in fact increase carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere in this state by more than 20 million tons.1

What does 20 million tons look like? Picture 400,000 coal-carrying semi trucks stretched nose to tail across the nation twice – 4,968 miles from Seattle to Boston and back to Seattle again. Fill each truck to the brim with 50 tons of black fuel. Now add 335 miles more. Rossi’s proposed emissions addition looks like 400,000 coal trucks lined up for 5,303 miles.

In contrast, Gregoire has atained significant environmental achievements during her four years in office. Here is a list, complied by the League of Conservation Voters, outlining Gregoire’s impressive environmental record:

•    Led the passage of the Climate Action and Green Jobs bill, bringing Governor’s request legislation to the state Legislature that makes Washington a regional and national leader in addressing the challenge of global warming by putting us on a path to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
•    Made significant investments to double the number of “green collar” jobs by 2020 that positions Washington state to be a global leader in a burgeoning green economy.
•    Signed the Children’s Safe Products Act into law, making Washington the nation’s leader in keeping toxic chemicals out of toys and other children’s products.
2007:
•    Created the Puget Sound Partnership in order to restore and protect this national treasure by bringing together communities, businesses, tribes and environmental groups to clean up toxic sediment, restore habitat for fish and whales, and reduce stormwater runoff that pollutes Puget Sound.
•    Signed the bill to eliminate PBDEs, making Washington the first state in the nation to eliminate this toxic flame retardant that is so prevalent throughout our homes and threatens our health.
•    Set goals to lower Washington state’s greenhouse gas emissions and to begin addressing the challenge of global warming.
2006:
•    Created a simple, free and safe way of recycling old electronic waste such as TVs and computers by signing the “Electronic Waste Recycling” bill preventing those electronics from turning into millions of pounds of waste containing lead, mercury and other toxic substances.
•    Reduced Washington’s dependence on foreign fuels and provided a new market for Washington by signing the “Energy Independence through Renewable Fuels” bill, which put Washington at the cutting edge of a new biofuels economy by establishing a minimum percentage of biofuels for both diesel and gasoline.
2005:
•    Signed a bill that has spurred the growth of green building requirements nationally, the first of its kind in the nation. Under the law, Washington schools and other public buildings will help protect the environment by saving energy and water, and using less-toxic and recycled materials.
•    Applied significant pressure to the state Legislature to pass the Clean Cars bill, a measure that joins Washington with other states in adopting stronger vehicle emissions standards that will will lead to a 30% reduction in global warming pollution from new cars. In 2007, Governor Gregoire brought a suit against the Bush Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to allow these stricter car emission standards.

The difference could not be clearer. Gregoire is taking action to protect the environment and stop global warming, while Rossi is using fuzzy math to hide his BIAW pleasing position on climate change.

Washington State relies on its five million acres of forests, agricultural, range and aquatic lands to provide an important source of funding for its schools and universities.

You would think Rossi’s dangerous views on climate would be front page news in the local media.  After all, unmitigated climate change would most likely ravage the state’s natural resources and the already financially strapped schools would lose an important source of revenue.

Nope.

Seattle’s Real Transportation Problem…….

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Everyone in Seattle loves to complain about traffic congestion.  It’s what we do.  We drink lattes, read books, and bitch about our terrible commute.

But here is the thing, it’s not the traffic that is slowly killing us, it’s the pollution.  In fact, transportation pollution is the Evergreen State’s dirty little secret. 

How bad is it?

Well, this month traffic smog became so intense, thanks to hot weather and stagnant air, it caused Southeast King County to exceed the safe level of ozone in the air.

This is the first time in ten years the Seattle Metropolitan Region violated the Clean Air Act.

Sure, I know what you are thinking: everyone knows Seattle is a toilet, but the rest of the state is brimming with unspoiled beauty.  How could Washington State have an air quality problem?

Here’s how.  Transportation is Washington State’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  To make matters wost, as a source of energy consumption,  it is the fastest growing sector as well.

What to do?

That’s easy.  The Western Climate Initiative should include transportation pollution in the initial carbon cap and trade program.  Along with the state’s clean car initiative, this should provide a powerful incentive for car manufactures and consumers to get the most fuel efficient vehicles on Washington’s roads, sooner rather than later.

See, that wasn’t so bad.

Now, click here to tell Governor Gregoire to include transportation pollution in the Western Climate Initiative.