Environment

Showdown Postponed on Sweeping Carbon-Pollution Policies for State – Climate Panel Likely to Continue Next Year

A state climate-change task force canceled its final meeting Wednesday – and with it appears to have gone any chance that next year’s Legislature will be dealing with big, sweeping policies that aim to reduce greenhouse-gas pollution. But the decision appears merely to have put off a showdown that was coming over policies Democrats call past-due and Republicans call half-baked. The panel plans to continue meeting — and the 2015 Legislature may see the relaunch of a debate on cap-and-trade, low-carbon fuel standards, carbon taxes and other policies that could have a big impact on the state economy.

New Poll Shows Statewide Support for Coal Terminal, Big Opposition to Gas Tax Increase

A new poll shows voters statewide favor a coal terminal proposed for Longview 56-31, two-thirds oppose a gas-tax increase, and public confidence in the economy is on the decline. But maybe the most striking thing about the survey of voter mood statewide, released Friday by Gallatin Public Affairs and GS Strategy Group, is that for all the agitation over the last year for pro-environmental “progressive” policies, primarily from the greater Seattle area, the rest of the state just isn’t on the same page.

As Business Urges Caution, Labor Declares Support for Sweeping Climate-Change Program

After months of argument, one new thing came out of the public hearing Friday on the state’s ambitious and rather vague effort to do something about the global climate. In a conflict that seems to be pitting greens against jobs and the economy, labor is taking the side of the environmental groups. Battle lines are being drawn in a fight that probably won’t end Wednesday when a state climate-change task force is expected to take an inconclusive vote. Pressure seems to be building for some sort of state action, and cost be hanged.

Don’t Hold Your Breath on Greenhouse Gas Task Force – Governor Triggers Meltdown When he Seeks Vote on Cap and Trade

If there really was ever any chance the Legislature would take up sweeping climate change legislation next year, it seemed to melt away faster than the polar ice caps Friday. A state task force charged with designing a greenhouse-gas attack plan finally had that breakdown that seemed so long in coming, and the main question now is whether it will produce a report later this year that anyone will find useful. And you have to love some of the comments from the meeting: The atmosphere in the room got a bit hot.

Senate Contemplates 11.5-Cent Gas-Tax Increase – but Inslee Cap-and-Trade Plan Could Mean Trouble

At long last, a new transportation proposal surfaces in the Senate, replete with big reforms, more money for mega-projects, no tolls on I-90 — and a slightly higher gas-tax increase than passed the House this year, at 11.5 cents a gallon. Big issues remain to be negotiated with the House, and there is no telling whether lawmakers will reach agreement before Nov. 21, when another special legislative session might be held. And it is becoming clear that Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to seek greenhouse-gas legislation might throw a monkey wrench into the process. But now, finally, the dealmaking can begin.

Inslee Signs New Pact With West-Coast States, B.C., Promising to Enact Cap-and-Trade Plan – Catches Lawmakers Off-Guard

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Monday signed a new agreement with leaders of California, Oregon and British Columbia that among other things promises to enact a cap-and-trade plan in this state to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions – and it left at least some Washington lawmakers gasping for oxygen. As governors of the three west-coast states touted the agreement as a model for the world, frustrated lawmakers here say it looks like an end-run around the Legislature. It wasn’t as if he asked anyone about it beforehand. And they say it could frighten the dickens out of Boeing just before a key announcement on the triple-7X.

Labor Blasts State Coal-Port Permit Plan – Calls it ‘Radical Environmental Economic Imperialism’

Union officials delivered a blast Wednesday on what appears to be an Inslee-Administration plan to use the environmental permitting process to block coal shipping from the state of Washington. They say the Department of Ecology’s decision to inject global issues of climate change into an ordinary environmental review could be used to shut down any industrial project. And they say the political statement might make environmentalists happy, but it won’t make the air any cleaner. It’s greens versus jobs — and you don’t have to guess where labor stands.

If Climate-Change Panel Won’t Ask Tough Questions About Green-Energy Policy, Lawmakers Want Auditor to do It

Nobody’s asking the tough questions about I-937, Republican lawmakers complain. Sixteen of them, and six chambers of commerce, have joined the Washington Policy Center’s call for a performance audit of the state’s renewable-energy policy. It requires utilities to purchase high-cost windpower even though they don’t need it — and is expected to cause electric bills to spike as it takes full effect. The request can be seen as an expression of frustration with the governor’s climate-change workgroup, which appears to be backing away from promises of a tough cost-benefit analysis.

Army Corps, Ecology Announce Divorce – Will Write Separate Environmental Impact Statements on Coal Ports

The Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Ecology are announcing a divorce, citing irreconcilable differences over the state’s controversial decision to inject the world’s environmental problems into what ordinarily be a simple review of a pair of coal-port proposals in Washington state. As the state pursues plans to assess the impact of coal-burning on the other side of the world, the Army Corps abandons plans to write a joint environmental impact statement and says it will go it alone. Announcement came with an oblique reference in the Federal Register Friday.

Ecology on Hot Seat About Coal-Port Analysis — Business Calls it Bizarre, Worrisome

Ever since the state Department of Ecology announced a month ago that it would measure a coal-port proposal near Bellingham against an unprecedented yardstick – air pollution on the other side of the world – critics have been wondering if the state’s environmental review process will have even a distant relationship with fairness. Now a letter from Ecology to state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, seems to confirm the worst of their fears. Nowhere does it mention that the state plans to ask a basic logical question – “compared to what?” And it asserts that state regulators have the right to determine which products can be shipped from the state of Washington whenever they believe the environmental impact will be “significant.”