Currently viewing the tag: "global warming"

Listening to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi’s answer to a question on where he is on global warming leaves one wondering just where he is. It seems he really is nowhere. He says “There’s still a lot of debate going on on this” and that “there’s going to be a big debate the next 2 to 3 years” and that he “doesn’t think anyone should panic”

Seem’s he hasn’t even talked with John McCain who says “the facts of global warming demand our urgent attention.”

You can see an interesting contrast on McCain and Rossi ‘s take on global warming on a YouTube clip posted by the Washington State Democratic Party.

See it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6uJQoUIGqk

Rossi’s position on climate change really hasn’t changed since he was in the Legislature. As Craig Engelhardt, Sierra Club lobbyist noted in the last gubernatorial race:

Rossi voted against efforts to fight global warming: Rossi voted against a bill to create a privately funded Washington climate center that would research simple and innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. The center would have also helped identify what types of impacts climate change could have on Washington and what we can do about it. (SB 5674, 2001)”

David Postman in his blog yesterday has a misleading headline saying “Rossi warms to climate change” but then presents Rossi’s doubletalk saying it’s important to have clean air but his spokesperson says that he would have vetoed one of the bill’s the Legislature passed earlier this year to try to reduce global warming. As Postman reports:

Rossi opposed “this year’s major legislative action on global warming. House Bill 2815 set up goals for carbon reduction, but does not fund those efforts. Gregoire signed the bill and has called it a major accomplishment.

Rossi, according to spokeswoman Jill Strait, would not have signed the bill. Strait said Rossi believes “we should focus on rewarding people, not punishing them.”

“The bill she just signed aims to use the power of the government to force people to cut vehicle miles traveled down to the level of 1980 in just ten years, and that is only the first step. Dino’s vision is based on personal freedom and engaging Washington’s creative economy. His plan provides incentives for people to use new, clean technology. “

The only problem is we’ve seen the free market approach that Rossi proposes. It does not respond to issues like global warming unless there is a personal cost attached to it. The cost of global warming is being passed on to the commons. The oil industry and coal industry and auto industry are extracting profits from their business interests but do not currently pay for the true costs of their industries. Besides pollution itself and dirty air affecting health we now have increased global warming which will affect everyone but which the producers who profit from their sales of coal and oil pay very little or nothing to mittigate.

The industries are operately in a profit motivated system that is passing the cost of their pollution onto the commons. The costs for pollution cleanup and global warming consequences are not being borne by industry but by the general public. The profit motivated free market system obviously does not adequately addreess the true costs to society of global warming and pollution.

This is where it is necessary for government to step in and change the rules because the consequencces are no longer just local or insignificant. A tax on carbon is one way to add the costs into the equation to address the true system costs of burning fossil fuels for energy. Investing this money in alternative renewable non-carbon energy systems is one way to correct the injustices and flaws in a free market system that puts individual profit above the common good.

It is obvious that Dino Rossi is not going to change the system to address global warming. The free market system has failed but Rossi continues to support the myth that individual consumers freely making choices will somehow do the right thing.

The free market system gave Americans SUV’s and minivans to the exclusion of small cars and public transit. The free market mantra gave corporations the incentive to make mistakes as they attempted to maximize profits making large cars. They were wrong and now people are buying Honda and Toyota hybrids and companies like Ford are money losers.

We’ve had 8 years of Bush denying global warming on the national level and it would be a big mistake to put someone in as Governor who really doesn’t see the problem and seems to be willing to say what he thinks the public wants to hear in a last minute election year conversion. The best gauge of what Rossi will do is to look at what he has or hasn’t done regarding global warming to date. The record suggests that it would be a mistake to think he’s going to do anything. Election year conversions are just another slick ad campaign gimmick.

Give Barack Obama credit for the straight talk, not John McCain or Hillary Clinton. Obama has refused to climb aboard the crazy train of his opponents in both parties suggesting that cutting the Federal tax on gasoline this summer makes sense. It doesn’t.

Gasoline usage is price sensitive. Cutting the cost for the summer by suspending the Federal tax of 18.4 cents will not lower the price because the same fixed amount will be available and oil companies will merely raise the price to take advantage of customer demand. Any decrease in prices will be very short term.

The oil companies have no qualms about raising prices. They continue to rake in record profits at the expense of American car and truck users. Republicans in Congress, and President Bush with his threatened veto power, continue to support the oil companies making record profits at the expense of the American economy and American consumers.

And the bulk of the profits raked in don’t even go for producing more oil or alternative energy. For example, as Yahoo.news reports:

“Exxon posted record earnings of $40.6 billion in 2007, with revenue higher than the gross domestic profit of Turkey, the world’s 17th-largest economy….
The company has been criticized by some analysts and investors for laying back on capital spending while going full bore on share buybacks.
Exxon spent $31.8 billion to buy back shares in 2007 while shelling out $20.9 billion for capital expenditures.”

Exxon Mobil reported today that they raked in another $10.89 billion in first quarter profits this year.

So American consumers are shelling out their cash so that companies like Exxon can but back their stock. It’s absurd. At least Hillary Clinton proposes that the oil companies be hit with an excess profits tax to pay for her proposed summer tax cut. John McCain does not even support that and says he would cut elsewhere.

Democrats tried to pass legislation to end special subsidies to oil companies but Republicans held fast and stopped legislation passing. Democrats wanted the subsidies to go for funding alternative energy programs like wind and solar, which would help to reduce global warming impacts from carbon fuels. Instead we are left with no approval of existing incentives for solar and wind energy which expire at the end of this year.

And where was John McCain when votes were taking place to pass an energy policy to reduce dependence on carbon fuels and reduce global warming. AWOL – see excellent article by Grist on McCain’s missed votes in Congress, rightly pointing out McCain’s professed concern about climate change action is more hot air than anything else.

see also
Dumb as we Wanna Be – New York Times
The Gas-Guzzler Gambit – New York Times editorial
Summer Fuel-ishness – Seattle Times editorial
Clinton Gas Tax Proposal Criticized – Washington Post

Threatened NW Tree Grove at Ingraham High School

The Seattle School District is proposing cutting down 62 large Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees on the west side of the Ingraham High School Campus in North Seattle. In addition they are proposing adding some 113 new parking spaces to the residential neighborhood, including on street parking.

This action is part of the proposed renovation of Ingraham High School that includes demolishing seven portables and one modular building of 7800 square feet and constructing a 2 story building addition of 14,500 square feet of classrooms on the west side of the existing high school.

Anyone else would likely characterize the cutting down of such a large number of old trees and increasing parking spaces in a residential neighborhood as having a significant environmental impact. Yet the Seattle School District has published a Notice of Determination of Non-Significance in the March edition of the Journal saying that “the proposal does not create any probable significant environmental impacts.”

The responsible school official listed for this determination is Ronald J English. English was recently the center of another questionable environmental skirmish in the same Haller Lake residential neighborhood when he was involved with the proposed sale of a Seattle School District building – the former Nellie Goodhue School – located at Meridian Ave N and Roosevelt Way N. The school district initial determination would have opened the residential neighborhood to an onslaught of trucks because of a “determination” that it was zoned for a warehouse. The Haller Lake Community Club sued and the property has now been sold to be converted into 26 single family homes.

A look at the Environmental Checklist prepared by the the URS Corporation of Seattle that the Seattle School District based its decision on, reveals a number of problems that were not adequately addressed. The Environmental Checklist, for example, does not consider any alternative places on campus to construct the new classrooms or look at any other alternative building designs in their evaluation.

The checklist provides no value to the loss of open space or tree canopy as compared to other alternatives. It assigns no value to the loss old growth trees which it minimally characterizes as Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar. It does not give the age of the trees or the height or the canopy coverage but only says they are 12 to 24 inches in diameter. In reality many of the trees appear to be large mature trees matching the tallest evergreen trees in the neighborhood. I estimate them as 100 feet or more in height.

A person with the design team characterized them in a conversation as mature trees at the end of their life yet they are the same size as other trees in the neighborhood. Douglas fir trees can grow to 48 inches in diameter and cedar even larger. The “ready to die” image is how the logging industries characterizes trees to justify cutting them – is this the school district’s philosophy also?

In addition, the proposal does not take into account Mayor Nickels goal for regreening the city over the next three decades — the planting of 649,000 trees, plus keeping the tree cover we have.” as written about in the Seattle PI.The article notes that:

Since the early 1970s, Seattle has lost more than half of its tree canopy as more businesses and people have moved into the city and smaller homes have given way to apartments and megahouses. Invasive ivy and blackberry bushes have smothered and killed native trees.
Nickels is looking to reverse that trend, to keep Seattle from becoming “the city formerly known as emerald.” …

Trees increasingly are being viewed as an asset to urban spaces. They clean pollution from the air and turn a key global warming gas into oxygen. They catch rainfall and slow the flow of contaminated stormwater from roadways into salmon streams….

“The city is increasingly realizing the urban forest is really part of the infrastructure of the city,” Nicholas said. “It isn’t just about looking pretty.”
The mayor’s goal is to expand the tree canopy from the current 18 percent to 30 percent over the next 30 years. Canopy is a measure of the land covered in trees, not a count of individual trees.

The current Environmental Checklist does not consider any measure of canopy replacement or any measure of global warming impact equivalency. It does propose adding new trees but most of these appear to be deciduous “street trees” maybe 15 to 20 feet tall at most.
The checklist makes no mention of Mayor Greg Nickels Executive order of Sept 6, 2005 that directs “all City departments to replace every tree that is removed from City-owned land in Seattle with two new trees.” One would think that Seattle Public Schools would support this policy also for the school district.
An additional major problem with the Environment Checklist is that it relies on a parking and traffic analysis prepared for URS by Mirai Transportation and Engineering of Kirkland that makes a number of questionable assumptions.

Ingraham High School currently has some 117 parking spaces on campus and has a 50 year agreement with the Seattle Parks Department to use a lot directly east of the school and north of the Helene Madison pool on a shared basis. The school estimates that it uses some 82 of the 165 spaces available in the shared Parks Dept lot.

The Mirai study then makes an assumption that is not borne out by the existing situation. They state that the 50 year “agreement is not assumed to continue and the parking analysis assumes loss of this lot for both daily and special event use. ” Yet both a call to the Parks Department and a discussion with Martin Floe, Ingraham’s Principal, and also the Project manager for URS, provided no problem with the current use of the Park’s Department parking lot or indicated any reason to expect it to end. No other use is planned for the existing parking lot.

But the assumption that it is not available in determining parking needs for Ingraham results in a big impact on the neighborhood, adding some 113 new parking spaces and encouraging more traffic and parking. The only justification seemed to be that the School District somehow couldn’t trust the Parks Department or the City to continue the agreement in the future, even though the Athletic Fields at Ingraham are shared with the city and they don’t have any problems with that.

Currently peak parking for 1200 students, faculty and staff is 185 cars. At some point the school might add 200 more students but this is not even certain. But the Mirai Parking study suggests that 200 additional students will require some 45 more parking spaces. Seattle is an urban area, yet to calculate the additional cars, Mirai uses something called “the peak trip generation for suburban high schools in the Institute for Transportation Engineers Trip Generation Manual.

This is almost double the current rate for students at the school. The difference represents some 22 parking spaces. How can you justify using a calculation for suburban schools for an urban school?

The deadline for responding to the Notice of Determination of Non-Significance is 4 PM on March 19, 2008. The DNS and Checklist can be viewed at the School District’s website www.seattleschools.org/area/facilities/SchoolProjects/IngrahamLink.xml

Urge that they do a more thorough environmental analysis of their project that assesses the real costs of building in an urban forested area and looks at alternatives to cutting down old growth trees and that also evaluates alternatives and mitigation measures to reduce demand for parking in general at the school rather than adding new parking spaces.

Send comments to:
Ronald J English, Environmental Officer
Seattle School District No 1
PO Box 34165, MS32-151
Seattle, WA 98124
phone: 206-252-0110
fax: 206-252-0110
Seattle Public Schools is also holding a public community meeting on Tuesday March 18, 2008 from 7 PM to 9 PM in the Ingraham School Library to give a presentation of the design team for the renovation.

It seems that a high school in Choteau, Montana thinks the best way to educate its students is to deny them the unique and rare opportunity to hear what a Nobel laureate has to say about global warming. What are they afraid of – that some students might actually be persuaded that global warming is real? Are they afraid that some students might come to question why more isn’t being done to protect their future from climate change?

The New York Times today reported that Nobel Laureate Steven W Running’s scheduled talk before 130 high school students was canceled after a few local conservative citizens complained to the school board and school superintendent.

Dr Running is a Professor of Ecology at the University of Montana. He was “a lead author” of the Report on Global Warming done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the Nobel Peace Prize 2007. The IPCC shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore.

As noted by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in selecting the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change to receive its Nobel Peace Prize for 2007:

“Indications of changes in the earth’s future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth’s resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world’s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.

Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.”

Most high schools would view the opportunity to hear a Nobel Laureate speak as a great educational learning experience. And certainly most speaking engagements give an opportunity for students to ask questions. But if schools operated on the principle that if anyone in the community disagreed with a proposed speaker, he or she couldn’t speak, then the probability is that schools would never be having any guest speakers.

Sticking your head in the sand on global warming isn’t going to change the reality. Some people in Montana still need to realize that global warming will affect them also – that the world global means just that. Like it or not, it includes Montana. Global warming, if not brought into check, will have major impacts on Montana farmers and ranchers and conservatives. Global warming will not discriminate as to whether someone is conservative or liberal. It will affect us all.

At the Priorities for a Healthy Washington Legislative Workshop held in Seattle on Saturday, it was disclosed that Governor Gregoire was going to announce on Monday that the “Climate Action & Green Jobs” bill would be a Governor’s Request Bill. This action will elevate the visibility and importance of this legislation and add to the momentum to get this this bill passed this year.

The Climate Action & Green Jobs bill is one of the 4 bills the environmental community has selected as their priorities for the 2008 Legislative Session starting Monday. The other 3 priority bills being pushed by the environmental community deal with “Local Solutions to Global Warming“, “Evergreen Cities” and “Local Farms – Healthy Kids

from the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s Legislative Proposal:


“The Climate Action and Green Jobs bill creates a structure and timeline for implementing the state’s global warming pollution reduction goals, and creates a program to prepare Washington workers for good jobs in the clean energy economy, providing pathways out of poverty for lower-income communities.

Accountability: The bill would make the Washington State Department of Ecology responsible for achieving the state’s emissions reduction goals. It would direct Ecology to develop responsible limits on all major sources of global warming pollution in the state.
Opportunity: The bill would create a competitive grants-based training program, to be funded and implemented in 2009, that will train and transition workers to clean energy jobs.
Regional solutions: The legislature would affirm the state’s participation in developing a regional market-based pollution trading system—like the one Washington is now helping to develop with numerous other western states and Canadian provinces.
Responsibility: requires reporting by those that are responsible for the greatest amount sources of global warming pollution.”

Gregoire’s Director of the Department of Ecology, Jay Manning, was the workshop’s lunch time speaker. Manning praised the environmental community for its successful efforts in developing the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s Agenda and noted that being selected as one of the 4 priority bills gave a piece of legislation credibility in Olympia.

Over the last 6 year’s the success rate of passing the Priorities for a Healthy Washington’s 4 bills each year has increased, going from one bill passed the first year to seeing all four bills passed last year. Part of this success Manning noted was because of the environmental community’s accepting that sometimes compromise needed to be made. It’s willingness to be flexible has elevated the credibility of the environmental community in Olympia.

Manning noted that while the ideal solution to act on global warming was a national response, in the absence of action by the Bush Administration, it is necessary for the states and local cities and counties to do what they can.

Manning said that unlike other states, Washington State with its immense hydro power resources does not have a major CO2 problem from coal plants. Instead 50% of our CO2 emissions come from cars and other vehicles. This is why he said the state is appealing in Federal Court the recent decision by Bush’s EPA Administrator to deny Washington State and other states the ability to implement the California fuel emissions standards proposed as part of Clean Car Legislation enacted in some 16 states.

One goal will be to reduce the vehicle miles traveled (VMT)in the state. This includes trying to make fewer trips, driving less, increasing density and better planning to concentrate development with localized services, infilling undeveloped areas, and stopping building more roads.

Another component will be to continue to expand strong programs to reduce waste which Washington State leads the nation in. Recycling and waste reduction programs reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

There is a potential threat, Manning said, that there could be an further attempts by the Federal government to limit state action on global warming. He said the current efforts by state and local governments are concentrated on the West Coast, New England, and Wisconsin and Minnesota. He said that the recent West Coast Climate Initiative held in Portland Oregon had some 370 people in attendance and another 400 on the phone.

It is obvious that Manning and Governor Gregoire are already working hard on dealing with global climate change by trying to get Washington State to take action to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. This is not something you would have seen from Republican Dino Rossi if he had been elected.

And if you are concerned about global warming Republican Dino Rossi is not someone you want to see become Governor in the future. The Sierra Club lobbyist in Olympia, Craig Engelking, noted that when Rossi was in the Legislature he “voted for a bill that would have said Washington’s environmental standards could not exceed federal minimums.”

That means that if Rossi was Governor now he would not be appealing the recent decision by the EPA to deny Washington State the ability to implement California’s Clean Car standards, which exceed the Federal standards.

In addition, Engelking said “Rossi voted against a bill to create a privately funded Washington climate center that would research simple and innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. The center would have also helped identify what types of impacts climate change could have on Washington and what we can do about it. (SB 5674, 2001)

A number of news sources now point to the fact that Dick Cheney was heavily involved in the EPA’s recent decision to try to void California’s, Washington’s and 15 other state’s attempts to enact Clean Car Legislation to restrict car emissions.

Last Thursday from Los Angeles Times 12/20/2007

“Johnson said California’s request was unlike others that had been granted by his agency that covered “pollutants that predominantly impacted local and regional air quality.”
He said the EPA acted after he and his staff reviewed more than 100,000 written comments and “thousands of pages of technical and scientific documentation.”
Asked if there was White House influence, Johnson said, “My decision was an independent decision.”

Last Friday from Los Angeles Times 12/21/2007

“The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ignored his staff’s written findings in denying California’s request for a waiver to implement its landmark law to slash greenhouse gases from vehicles, sources inside and outside the agency told The Times on Thursday.”California met every criteria . . . on the merits. The same criteria we have used for the last 40 years on all the other waivers,” said an EPA staffer. “We told him that. All the briefings we have given him laid out the facts.”” …

…three sources said, Johnson cut off any consultation with his technical staff for the last month and made his decision before having them write the formal, legal justification for it. “It’s very highly unusual,” said one source with close ties to the agency.Normally the technical staff would be part of the final decision-making process, including briefing the administrator and writing the formal legal document before his decision. In this case, the briefings were done, but the formal finding has yet to be drafted. …

Some staff members believe Johnson made his decision after auto executives met with Vice President Dick Cheney and after a Chrysler executive delivered a letter to the White House outlining why neither California nor the EPA should be allowed to regulate greenhouse gases, among other reasons. The Detroit News reported Wednesday that chief executives of Ford and Chrysler met with Cheney last month.”Clearly the White House said, ‘We’re going to get EPA out of the way and get California out of the way. If you give us this energy bill, then we’re done, the deal is done,’ ” said one staffer.”

Detroit News November 2, 2007:

Vice President Dick Cheney met with the CEOs of Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC in recent days in the wake of a push on Capitol Hill for dramatically higher fuel economy requirements.
Cheney met Wednesday with Chrysler Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli and on Oct. 24 with Ford Motor Co. president and CEO Alan R. Mulally, officials told The Detroit News. … The companies declined to confirm or deny the meetings. Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment.

Numerous other meetings have taken place between automobile representatives and the Bush Administration. In fact the White House even has a picture posted on its website from last year. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney meet with automotive CEOs Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006, in the Oval Office. The automobile industry has opposed higher fuel efficiency standards for the last 20 years. In the past they also opposed seat belts, higher collision standards and air bags.

Cheney has been Bush’s point person on stopping efforts to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions from cars and trucks. For almost seven years they held off efforts to protect the health of our families, cities and our environment. For those naysayers in the press and other who try to equate the Democratic Congress with the previous Republican run Congress, let me tell you – there is no comparison.

The just passed energy bill which increased fuel efficiency standards and set up efficiency standards for appliances was a step that only a Democratic Congress was going to pass. They did it despite the efforts of Bush and Cheney and the Republicans to stop it.

The Clean Car legislation from California and Washington State and other states goes even further. The refusal by EPA’s Johnson to grant the waiver to move ahead with tougher emissions standards is going to be challenged in Court. The people want action to deal with global warming and climate change, not the obstruction coming from the Republicans and Bush and Cheney.

But being a Democrat I suppose I should not fret too much. Each action by Bush and Cheney to delay action on global warming only makes a stronger case for why people need to vote Democratic in the 2008 elections. Change is needed away from the corporate oligarchy that Bush and the Republicans have tried to impose on America. Its time to take the country back from the corporations.

The Environmental Protection Agency has continued oilman Bush’s reactionary campaign against those working to reduce global warming. Wednesday, Bush’s EPA denied a waiver to California allowed under the Clean Air Act to set its own vehicle emission standards. The action thwarts efforts by 17 states, including Washington State, to set stronger fuel efficiency standards for vehicles than that of Congress. See also NY Times

Anyone who thinks Bush has had a recent change of mind or heart regarding his past efforts opposing strong actions to reduce global carbon dioxide is mistaken. George Bush is still a corporate oilman at heart; and profit, not the future of the earth is his God. For all of Bush’s professed religious righteousness, it seems he has forgotten some of his God’s admonitions to
provide wise stewardship of the earth.

Bush opposed until the bitter end the energy legislation just passed by Congress to raise fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. He and his fellow Republicans in the US Senate weakened the legislation passed by forcing removal of provisions that would have shifted some $13 billion in tax breaks from the oil industry to renewable energy programs. Also removed were provisions calling on states to institute a goal of achieving 15% of the their energy being generated by renewable energy.

In the Washington Post today Bush is quoted as saying, “The question is how to have an effective strategy. Is it more effective to let each state make a decision as to how to proceed in curbing greenhouse gases or is it more effective to have a national strategy

The fact is that we have only one state making a decision – California and that they want to implement fuel efficiency standards faster and tougher than what Congress passed. The other 16 states say they want to implement what California does. The Clean Air Act says they can do that.

Senator Barbara Boxer on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer tonight noted that the just passed energy bill mandating Federal fuel efficiency standards explicitly stated that nothing in the Act diminished the right of states under the Federal Clean Air Act to set higher state standards for air quality.

Senator Boxer said to expect that California and other states will go to Federal Court to challenge and overturn Bush’s decision. Despite the news media seeming attributing this as a decision of the EPA, the fact is that this is a Bush decision.

Senator Boxer reported that Congress will be investigating the denial of the waiver by Bush. A report in the Washington Post said the final decision by the EPA per se was contrary to the internal advise within the EPA.

As reported by the Washington Post,

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson demanding “all documents relating to the California waiver request, other than those that are available on the public record.”

Waxman told Johnson to have EPA staff preserve all records. The decision against California “appears to have ignored the evidence before the agency and the requirements of the Clean Air Act,” Waxman wrote. He asked for all the relevant documents by Jan. 23.”

If only we had a President that spent as much energy trying to solve global warming problems we face instead of trying to obstruct efforts to take action. Bush and the Republican Congress could have enacted stronger fuel efficiency standards years ago.

Americans need to realize that it was the Republicans that did not take action on this issue for years, not the Democrats. And with only a slim 51 vote majority in the US Senate this year and 60 votes needed to end a filibuster, Republicans continue to hinder needed action. Congress is not the problem – it is the Republicans in Congress and President Bush that have avoided acting earlier on global warming.

Only with a change of leadership to Democrats in the Presidency and a 60 vote Democratic majority in the Senate will we move forward without so much obstruction from Republicans that are so beholden to the wishes of the corporations over the general welfare of the American people and our environment.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last week slapped slapped George Bush’s hand again. They rejected his wimpy do almost nothing fuel efficiency standards for light trucks and SUV’s. See New York Times article. Bush’s proposal was to increase the average fuel efficiency for light trucks from 22.5 mpg to 23.5 mpg by 2010. The standard for cars is 27.5 mpg.

The Court ruled that the Transportation Department did not take into account the economic costs of not reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Washington State was not a party to the suit although it certainly had a chance to join. Washington State’s Attorney General Rob McKenna chose not to participate.

Eleven states , 2 cities and 4 environmental organizations had filed the original suit. Washington State was absent from the list of states that were part of the suit. California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico, Oregon and Minnesota and New York City and the District of Columbia were parties to the suit.

Washington state’s absence from this suit is not surprising. Rob McKenna is a Republican. George Bush is a Republican. McKenna‘s loyalties are first to his party, not our state. In fact all of the states that joined the lawsuit had Democratic Attorney Generals. No Republican Attorney General saw fit to join the lawsuit to try to curb global warming.

Rob McKenna will of course protest, saying wait a minute, Washington state was a party to another significant Supreme Court decision in April 2007 that said the EPA had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. In fact he even put out a press release after it was decided praising the decision. The truth, however, is that McKenna did not originate that suit. It was Washington’s current Governor, Christine Gregoire, when she was Washington State’s Attorney General, who joined the lawsuit when it was filed in 2003.

I have previously written about McKenna‘s lack of enthusiasm for bucking his fellow Republican George Bush by his lack of tackling the global warming issue. I wrote the Attorney General asking why he was not involved in the lawsuit last year and urged that Washington state join the lawsuit. I think the year and a half that has passed since then has significantly shown the importance of our needing to act to curb global warming and the need for significant and meaningful action like drastically increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

You can read my press release here – Press Release – “Attorney General Rob McKenna Should Join Federal Lawsuit on Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standards

see also:
MajorityRulesBlog Missing in Action – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna
MajorityRulesBlogUpdate on Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna Asleep at the Wheel
MajorityRulesBlog 2nd Update – Still Waiting to Hear from Attorney General Rob McKenna
MajorityRules Blog 3rd Update –Washington State Attorney General McKenna Should Join Car Fuel Efficiency Lawsuit

Here is the response from McKenna‘s office and my comments – “Washington State Attorney General’s Office Responds to Not Joining Other State’s on Fuel Efficiency Lawsuit”

Rob McKenna missed his chance to be part of the solution rather than stick his head in the sand. McKenna is running again for Attorney General of Washington. Inaction on critical issues when the opportunity arises like it did for McKenna to join the Federal lawsuit and represent Washington state’s interests are legitimate issues that one can use to evaluate and judge whether a public official is representing the voters interests or not.

Global warming is a significant issue affecting the future of our state. The public has a right to question the inaction of public officials in addressing this problem. On this one McKenna came up missing in action.

First, let me congratulate Al Gore for winning the Nobel Peace Prize today. But I strongly disagree with his statement as quoted in the International Herald Tribune today.

We face a planetary emergency,” Gore said. “The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.”

Yes it’s a moral and spiritual issue but the climate crisis is also a political issue. It is an issue that Bush and the Republicans and the corporate free market mindset they have foisted on America has chosen to ignore. It is political because the Republicans and Bush have opposed taking decisive action to deal with it.

It is a mistake to not acknowledge that politics has been a major stumbling block in getting the United States to take a leadership role in trying to address the issue and find possible actions and solutions we can work with in the international community.

So again congratulations Al, but please, global warming has been so politicized by the Republicans that we are years behind in addressing this problem. Fortunately for Democrats, the Republicans and Bush look like such fools on this issue, that their hostility and inaction has greatly contributed to the Democrats’ chances of taking back the Presidency and the US Senate next year.

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There’s a lot of wind in Kittitas County, Washington. Kittitas County is east of the Cascade Mountains. East of Ellensburg, 110 windmills already are operating as part of the Wind Horse Wind Farm. More are on the way.

Just like with building any large facility for energy, be it nuclear, coal, natural gas, or hydropower, there are changes and impacts to local communities. Weighting these local impacts against statewide significance is not always easy. But windmills aren’t nuclear power plants.

Still its not necessarily surprising that local Kittitas County Commissioners last year rejected another wind project near Ellensburg called the Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project.

However the local commissioners did not have the final say. Energy projects of statewide significance are approved on the state level by EFSEC – the Energy Facilities Site Evaluation Council. EFSEC on a 6 to 1 vote subsequently approved the project to build 65 windmills, overruling the local land use decision. In a nod to local concerns they only gave approval to about half the number originally proposed.

However now Governor Gregoire has asked EFSEC to re-evaluate whether a setback of 1600 feet from residences could be increased while still keeping the projects viable. Kate Riley, an editorial columnist for the Seattle Times, wrote a column entitled “Wind-farm storm shouldn’t blow governor off course” She’s right.

The Governor may be trying to cater to local concerns but we’re not talking about putting a coal plant or a nuclear plant in someone’s back yard. The Governor should go along with the EFSEC decision – the wind plants will create 125 new jobs in Kittitas County while not adding more CO2 to the atmosphere or producing nuclear waste that will be around for hundreds of thousands of years.

Last year Washington state votes passed the Clean Energy Initiative, Initiative 937, to promote renewable energy like wind power. The voters want to move forward and if Governor Gregoire wants to micromanage where every individual wind mill goes she is moving backward not forward.

As noted in an article in the Seattle PI by Helen Wise of Ellensburg and Sara Patton of the Northwest Energy Coalition

many were shocked when the governor failed to confirm state regulators’ endorsement of a well-sited wind energy project near Ellensburg. The state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council had voted 6-1 for Horizon Wind Energy’s proposed Kittitas Valley Wind Power Project. The project had passed every environmental test and Horizon had halved the number of turbines to address some local residents’ concerns.
The governor wants EFSEC to investigate an issue already addressed during the five-year process — the economic feasibility of greatly increasing the distance between clean energy-generating turbines and outside properties. Horizon officials testified during the EFSEC and earlier county proceedings that doing so would kill the project.
The governor’s remand jeopardizes the many benefits the project would bring to Kittitas County residents, which only begin with direct payments to project landowners. A Kittitas Economic Development Group report says the wind farm would increase county property tax revenues more than $1 million annually — a 5 percent rise — and create 125 full- and part-time jobs.
The move is also a threat to state and regionwide interests. The Kittitas Valley project is the first proposed renewable-energy development to come before the governor since voters approved the state’s clean-energy Initiative 937.”

One has to wonder what’s up? Other wind projects are also in the pipeline to be considered. Governor Gregoire needs to be clear about the value of these projects in producing clean energy and not increasing global warming. She is sending the wrong message questioning a 6 to 1 decision by EFSEC that already reduced significantly the approved number of viable wind turbines.

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