A story in the New York Times in February said, “The global scientific consensus is clear: Emissions of planet-warning gases must be cut by nearly half by 2030 if the world is going to have a good shot at averting the worst climate catastrophes.” However, the United Nations reported this year that new climate targets submitted by UN members would reduce emissions by less than 1 percent.
A report published in The Lancet medical journal in December indicates about 25,000 people in the US died prematurely in 2018 due to particulates released into the air by the agriculture and transportation industries. There were also 19,000 heat-related deaths in people 65 and older. Because global warming and environmental pollutants are already accelerating deaths, it called on lawmakers to “stem the rise of planet-warming gases in the next five years.”
The Seattle area last month had the lowest coronavirus death rate of the 20 largest metropolitan regions in the country. If our political leaders and the people who live here can collaboratively achieve that distinction, why can’t we be equally successful in dealing with the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?
SEM is hopeful our legislators in Olympia can still pull some rabbits out of the hat before the session ends on April 25. But the in-fighting, obstructionism, and roadkill have been phenomenal.
Straight-line partisan votes characterize most of the bills sponsored by Democratic legislators which deal with plastic pollution (it’s made from crude oil), “Climate Change & Washington’s Growth Management Act,” GHG emission reductions, and the health impacts of GHG emissions on disadvantaged populations. Why isn’t there strong, bipartisan support for such bills?
A bill requested by Governor Inslee on clean fuel standards comparable to the longstanding ones in Oregon, California, and British Columbia doesn’t even have the support of all Democrats. They’ve also been squabbling over carbon tax bills.
Puget Sound Energy and other gas utilities are waging a $1 million campaign to oppose policies/laws which require all-electric buildings, and they trounced a “Healthy Homes & Clean Buildings” bill.
The Washington State Petroleum Association, Western States Petroleum Association, and Association of Washington Business have enormous clout in Olympia. There are disproportionate GHG emissions from on-demand transportation vehicles since they’re continually being driven. Lyft and Uber supported a bill which called for mandatory emission reductions by on-demand vehicles, but it failed to advance in the House. The electric vehicle bill supported by SEM (Clean Cars 2030) also failed to get a floor vote.
Fortunately, a bill to facilitate an electric vehicle charging and refueling infrastructure across the state is doing well, as is a bipartisan bill to establish a tax incentive program for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. A bill to accelerate forest restoration and expand our ability to respond to wildfires was unanimously approved in the House.
Unfortunately, Washington is failing miserably in achieving its GHG emission goals. And oh, so much more has to be accomplished as we get closer and closer to the 2030 deadline which scientists say is the critical date to contain the climate crisis.