1. I was on KPLU's weekly news roundup on Friday making the case that the poison pill—the Republican amendment to the state transportation package that prevents governor Jay Inslee from enacting low-carbon fuel standards—isn't as poisonous as environmentalists seem to think.
Making the world safer for cars is ultimately a bad move for environmentalists. For starters, accommodating inherently detrimental technology so that it's supposedly less problematic for the environment (and less of a drag on your conscience) only increases usage—and negates the proposed benefits. There's a term for this. It's called the "Rebound Effect" or the "Jevons Paradox"; in the 1860s, a British economist, William Jevons, showed that steam engines, which use less coal, actually increased coal consumption because the introduction of more efficient technology increased usage. A more topical example: Wi-Fi makes looking stuff up on the Internet faster than it took in the dial-up 1990s, yet you spend much more time on the Internet today than you did in the '90s. No?
Second, the real problem with cars is the infrastructure that we build around them—the sprawl of far-flung development. Even electric cars lead to Wal-Marts and exurbs, for example.
The best way to reduce use is to make it harder to drive and to provide alternatives. And the smartest way to fight sprawl is to make sure those alternatives promote dense development.
So, the best way to make it harder to drive? Raise the price of gas. And the best alternative to cars? Rapid mass transit.
And what did the Democrats get in exchange for forgoing low-carbon fuel standards? An 11.9-cent gas tax and (depending on how Puget Sound voters go in 2016) a $15 billion investment in light rail.
Of course, environmentalists will need to make sure the light rail alignment is done right—which is why I also warned about the possible danger of "transit-oriented sprawl" around the future light rail line.
2. PubliCola readers' favorite villain, developer lobbyist Roger Valdez, has been challenged by socialist city council member Kshama Sawant to debate rent control. He has accepted.
Mark your calendars: July 20 at Town Hall.
3. Longtime political consultant Jim Kneeland, who, according to U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, could turn nerdy topics like growth management into "poetry on paper" died of cancer last week.
The Seattle Times obituary details Kneeland's career, including a stint as former governor Booth Gardner's spokesman.