1. It's not a huge surprise given our earlier report about the partisan divide in the Climate Legislative Work Group (CLEW), a legislative task force in Olympia that was created last year to come up with recommendations for meeting Washington state's greenhouse gas emissions goals.But the group—Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-40, Orcas Island), Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34, Burien) and non-voting member Gov. Jay Inslee on the Democratic side vs. Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42, Ferndale) and Rep. Shelly Short (R-7, Addy) on the GOP side—released its respective (and disparate) formal recommendations this week.
The Democrats, warning that the state was 9.5 million metric tons off track to meet the first check-in (the goal is to get back to 1990 levels by 2020) wrote: "Our statutory carbon pollution limits will not be met without additional action...current state and federal policies will get us...halfway toward the state’s 2020 emission limits...and even further actions will be required to achieve the limits in later years."
The "later years" goals? Get to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The Democrats' report goes on to make five recommendations: establish a "cap and market" system (basically a carbon emissions cap); reduce reliance on coal-powered electricity from other states; establish construction guidelines that promote green building practices such as incorporating energy-efficient appliances and on-site power generation; incentivize clean energy R&D; and view the state's transportation planning policies through a climate change lens by, for example, taking a "broader" view to "connect land use and transportation plans" and "incorporating multimodal transportation systems and prioritiz[ing] investments in choices such as transit that reduce carbon emissions."
"Our statutory carbon pollution limits will not be met without additional action ...current state and federal policies will get us...halfway toward the state’s 2020 emission limits...and even further actions will be required to achieve the limits in later years."
The Republican report takes a much more sanguine view. Stressing that "the adoption of these policies by Washington would do very little to mitigate global climate variability," they argue that "Washington's energy profile is much cleaner than most other states. ... Washington's per-capita energy-related GHG emissions are 10th lowest among states, and the state has already taken numerous and costly actions to reduce its GHG emissions...Washington's energy-related GHG emissions are...far behind China, the world's largest emitter, and less than one third of one percent of the 31.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted worldwide."
With that, the Republicans dismiss a carbon cap or tax, saying it would hurt Washington's economy, and they make three recommendations: drastically reform 2006's voter-approved I-937—which mandated a scheduled increase in renewable energy sources at Washington electric utilities—by allowing hydro power and conservation to count toward the goals; increasing the state's flexibility to use non-power production measures to be "banked" as credit toward meeting the goals and to be counted in annual reports on emissions; and investing in R&D for alternative energy sources such as bio-fuels, and invest in nuclear energy.
The GOP report also recommends keeping the work group up and running through the end of 2014 to help study and facilitate its proposals (the task force was charged with completing its recommendations late last year). The Democrats want to move on to the next phase and let the executive branch get to work on the recommendations.
2. Speaking of environmental issues, we're giving "Testimony of the Week" to Sightline's Eric de Place, who spoke to the house environment committee in favor of Rep. Jessyn Ferrell's (D-46, N. Seattle) bill to regulate oil trains coming through the state.
Watch his response to Rep. Shelly Short's (R-7, Addy) statement that Washington's system is safe.
A close runner-up: Spokane City Council President, Ben Stuckart. Check out his testimony starting at the 58:45 mark.
3. With yesterday's news that U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5) will be delivering the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union next Tuesday, January 28, the Washington Post published (an oddly banal) list of "Five Things to Know About Her" including the fact that she's a descendant of pioneers and that she's the first member of Congress to give birth three times while serving.
Neat-o. But more relevant, we think, as 2014 is apparently shaping up to be another election year when abortion rights are used as a wedge issue, McMorris Rodgers emerged around this time in 2012 as the GOP's front person to dismiss the idea that there was a "War on Women."
And, blast from the past, here's a PubliColaTV item on McMorris Rodgers back in 2009 when she spoke at a Tea Party rally.
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee will deliver the official Tea Party response to Obama's SOTU.