Gov. Inslee
Gov. Jay Inslee

When the transportation deal passed, the Republicans inserted a “poison pill,” which will redirect $700M in statewide multimodal money to highway funds if the governor enacts a low-carbon fuel standard.  At the time, the Governor said he would accept the poison pills as part of the deal, and I think many of us assumed that that would be that: the low-carbon fuel standard was dead. As Jim Brunner reports in the Times today, the Governor is actively mulling taking the pill and enacting the fuel standard anyway:

[Sen. Doug] Ericksen, who voted against the gas-tax package, argues Inslee outplayed Republicans on the transportation deal.

He said Inslee used the threat of a clean-fuel rule — which he believes was a tenuous proposition that would have faced legal challenges — to win full Sound Transit authorization.

“He was able to use a weak hand and trade it for Sound Transit funding. That was the brilliant part,” Ericksen said.

Despite the poison-pill, Inslee’s office has signaled he is still considering moving ahead on a low-carbon fuel standard. While that would trigger a shift in transit money, Inslee and his allies could gamble on a fight to restore the funding in a subsequent legislative session.

The governor appears eager to show his environmental bona fides, and, having secured the full $15B authorization for ST3, feels that he can take a hit on pedestrian safety and mass transit projects.  From what I’ve heard, the Governor is seriously considering moving forward.  Climate activist Patrick Mazza echoes this sentiment on his blog, adding in the political calculus:

Inslee may calculate that the fuel standard will do more to reduce carbon emissions than the transit, van pool and bicycling alternatives that would be lost.  A state government contact confirmed that staff is running numbers. And since this is only the first years of a transportation package that runs through 2031, the governor may also calculate that these losses could be reversed in future legislative sessions.  The Democrats hope to re-capture the State Senate with presidential year turnout in 2016.

I’ve known Inslee for a number of years.  Based on that my gut says he is preparing to pull the trigger to implement Clean Fuels.

Washington is the only West Coast holdout in a low-carbon agreement that includes California, Oregon, and BC.  If enacted, multimodal (e.g. transit, bikes, pedestrian) money would be transferred to the state’s Connecting Washington account, per the terms of the deal, to be spent on roads.

So what would actually happen if Washington implements a low-carbon fuel standard? There are two funds which would lose revenue streams under the “poison pill”, both detailed in SB 5987. The poison pill would redirect funding from the multimodal transportation account and the highway safety account to the Connecting Washington Account, which is administered by WSDOT for highway work, if a low-carbon fuel standard is enacted before July 1, 2023.

Section 202 of SB 5987 would redirect revenue from the motor vehicle weight fee and motor home weight fee, amounting to ca. $62M per year, which currently goes to the multimodal transportation account. This is the only source of funds that would be redirected from multimodal transportation purposes. The multimodal account also gets funding from rental car sales tax amounting to ca. $29M per year, the motor vehicle retail sales and use tax amounting to ca. $40M per year, and vehicle certificate of ownership application fees amounting to ca. $10M per year. These latter three sources of funding for the multimodal account are not touched by the poison pill, and collectively add up to more than the redirected funds, so a majority of multimodal funding will remain intact.

Sections. 206, 207, and 209 would redirect fees for commercial learning permits, commercial drivers’ license skills tests, and non-citizen drivers’ licenses and ID cards from the highway safety fund, amounting to what appears to be a diversion of ca. $8M per year. Given that the only strictures on Connecting Washington Account funds are that they must be spent only upon appropriations by the legislature, they cannot be spent on the SR 99 viaduct replacement project, and they have to be spent on highway purposes, it is unclear whether any programs in the highway safety fund would be seriously impacted.

Importantly, ST3 isn’t touched by the poison pill. There were other hard-to-swallow trade-offs, of course, but no money under threat of being diverted to the Connecting Washington Account.

Thanks to Brent White for contributing to this post.

169 Replies to “Is Gov. Inslee Getting Ready to Swallow the Poison Pill?”

  1. I’ll be damned. If this is the case I may have to significantly revise my view of Inslee’s Governorship.

    1. Agreed. If the Gov does this he will have completely skunked the Reps on the Transportation negotiations. They’ll be boiling, so next year’s legislative session should be a doozie.

      So far as “taking back the State Senate in 2016, somebody has been smoking Washington’s finest. Ain’t gonna’ happen, but at least he’ll get the urban Democrats to come out for his re-election, which looks tenuous at best these days.

    2. There’s a carbon tax initiative going around; I signed it this weekend. I’ve stopped signing most initiatives because of concerns over their narrowness or simplemindedness, but I made an exception for this one because it’s right and it’s a variation of what the governor was going to do anyway. This initiative would tax carbon fuels and direct the revenue to reducing the sales tax; the proponents claim a 1% reduction. I’d rather have a revenue-neutral refund like Alaska’s oil-royalty fund, but the sales tax is regressive and the result is sort of the same.

      I’m still not enthusiastic about initiative-driven government (see: unfunded class-size reductions), but this does give some leverage against the poison pill. The legislature may not be able to prevent a carbon-disincentive law, or may be forced to implement their own law to avoid voters establishing a less-polished one.

      1. Yeah, I think a lot of initiatives are silly, because they promise something without explaining how you will pay for it. Or the opposite, where they restrict taxes, but don’t tell you where to cut. Both have passed in this state (of course).

        Some initiatives are different, and just reflect the political fears at the time. The legalization of weed was like this.

        This is a bit strange, and falls into an area best left to the legislature in general (since it involves a lot of back and forth) but at least it passes the first test. By enacting a tax and telling you where to cut, it is revenue neutral. This is a good thing, and I’ll probably sign it.

  2. I hope he swallows the Carbon Pill. Why wait until 2023 to fall into line with the rest of the west coast on this one. The R’s laid out the bait, and it looks like the big fish in the pond is about to strike.

    1. The “low-carbon fuel standard” is crazy weird; I had to read through the description several times before figuring it out.

      On the surface, it requires gasoline refiners to blend in cellulosic ethanol rather than corn ethanol. *However*, this is likely to be expensive and impractical. but the refiners are given the alternative of buying ‘renewable energy credits’. I haven’t managed to find details on what these are (!!!). If they’re the same credits which are used in the electricity market, they would be much cheaper to buy, so the refiners would do this. So this would end up resulting in transferring money from the refiners in renewable energy projects. Which would be a decent result.

      I’m still not sure I understand this correctly, though.

    2. Whatever it is, it’s probably going to be loaded with giveaways to the various special interests and do little to actually reduce carbon, once the production of the fuel itself is considered, rather than just the emissions out the tailpipe. Not that any proposal that applies only to Washington State can do much to fight climate change anyway.

      While it may help Inslee secure some campaign donations from the special interests that would benefit, the reality amounts to cutting walk/bike funding, while not anything to help the planet in return.

      1. Thank you asdf2 for helping me bring sanity to some of the folks down here.

        The reality is as you said, “While it may help Inslee secure some campaign donations from the special interests that would benefit, the reality amounts to cutting walk/bike funding, while not anything to help the planet in return.” Yup, and for rural areas really be more divide & conquer & isolation.

        There are more uniting alternatives out there that don’t end in divide & conquer & isolation for transit, multimodal and environmentalists.

  3. Maybe I need coffee this morning, but consider me a skeptic. Imagine a 2017 where Dems fail to retake the Senate, Republicans are out for blood, and those poor, expendable, unimportant transit/bike/ped people get nothing. But hey, more EVs in Puyallup on a brand new freeway and light rail in Fife!

    1. Reducing our carbon footprint through market forces will have the ‘Greater Good’ in mind compared to delay on some sharrows or mini vans for transit. Directing that $700m into road projects that increase carpools would certainly equal anything our transit agencies have to offer for environmentalists.

      1. “Directing that $700m into road projects that increase carpools would certainly equal anything our transit agencies have to offer for environmentalists.”

        SERIOUSLY?

        You cannot be serious!

      2. Deadly Serious Joe. Look at the growth of mode share over the last 10 or 20 years.
        Transit remained nearly flat-lined while carpools and vanpools surged. A vanpool is more efficient (carbon or otherwise) than the average bus counting all the service hours expended, not just cherry picking a 70% or better trip to make the case.

      3. Okay mic, I can respect that. Part of the problem transit has is transit got whacked hard by lack of funding in the Great Recession. Part of the problem is that a certain transit agency has a great slogan but accompanies it with young people moving around instead of middle aged folks sitting in a Double Tall scooting past congestion.

        But yeah, I respect your POV. Please keep commenting!

      4. “Transit remained nearly flat-lined while carpools and vanpools surged. A vanpool is more efficient (carbon or otherwise) than the average bus counting all the service hours expended, not just cherry picking a 70% or better trip to make the case.’

        I would love to see the numbers to back that up.

      5. Vanpools at great for getting to work at suburban employment centers where lots of people work in the same place, at least for those willing to stick to the same work schedule every day, without exception.

        On the other hand, they contribute nothing to avoiding the need to own a car in the first place (since they don’t get you anywhere except work), and even regular vanpool riders typically have to drive separately all the way, both directions, whenever anything in their schedule causes their commute to differ even slightly from the established routine.

        Vanpools also don’t help people who are self-employed, or work for smaller employers, nor do they scale well enough for places like downtown Seattle. Throw every transit rider headed downtown into a vanpool, and I guarantee you, even with every seat full in every van, the result would still be gridlock.

      6. Vanpools are great for commute trips. That’s pretty much it. The problem is a lot of travel is not for commuting (PSRC, Travel Characteristics of Puget Sound Residents, 2008). Transit works best during peak for commuting but is not good enough off-peak for many people to ditch their cars for their other trips.

    2. $80 million per year, and growing, from other state fees that will still be going to the multimodal transportation fund regardless of what happens with the fuel standards, is not “nothing”.

  4. Take the pill and make sure to make a media storm about it. Hopefully we can get the “Majority Coalition Caucus” to retreat with their tail between their legs.

  5. Going to be a double screw over of rural areas.

    First, for those in rural communities who need transit grants we lose ’em.

    Second, for those in rural communities who need affordable fuel, we lose the affordable part.

    Oh and for those in rural communities with Inslee signs – you guys also lose an effective negotiator.

    Do not take the pill, I say again, do not. Have the environmental groups go to voters if this is so important.

    Also, the same people who want Inslee will take the pill will vote D in any general election against almost if not any R. Just so that’s clear.

    1. With the majority of the state funding for the multimodal transportation account still intact, how do you know the transit grants would get cut before capital improvements?

      1. Where do you get, ” the majority of the state funding for the multimodal transportation account still intact”? Especially when the Island Transit County Connector money is only in the new revenue budget.

        You know what I get from the Crosscut link is, “in the package that would automatically shift $700 million from transit and multimodal transportation”.

        Now let’s stop defending shifting money out of transit, okay? Thanks.

      2. Where do you get, ” the majority of the state funding for the multimodal transportation account still intact”?

        It’s explained clearly and directly in the post. Key graf:

        Section 202 of SB 5987 would redirect revenue from the motor vehicle weight fee and motor home weight fee, amounting to ca. $62M per year, which currently goes to the multimodal transportation account. This is the only source of funds that would be redirected from multimodal transportation purposes. The multimodal account also gets funding from rental car sales tax amounting to ca. $29M per year, the motor vehicle retail sales and use tax amounting to ca. $40M per year, and vehicle certificate of ownership application fees amounting to ca. $10M per year.

        29+40+10 > 62

      3. I don’t think any of us who are worthy of the title “transit advocate” can be advocating for LESS state money for transit right now.

        We have D state politicians who use us to give our money to other causes.

        We have R state legislators who in most districts would love to shut down the WSDOT Transit Grants office.

        This is something we transit advocates just need to oppose. On principle. There’s no upside for us transit advocates.

        Unless, that is, Seattle Transit Blog isn’t about transit any longer, that is.

      4. Is the Island County Connector being funded from the multimodal account, or from somewhere else?

        Is there other transit being funded from the multimodal account?

      5. Brent yeah it’s multimodal…

        (1)(a) $13,890,000 of the multimodal transportation account—state 8 appropriation is provided solely for projects identified in LEAP 9 Transportation Document 2015 NL-3 as developed June 28, 2015.
        . . .
        (c) $2,300,000 of the amount provided in (a) of this subsection 24 is provided solely for Island transit’s tri-county connector service for expenditure in 2015-2017.

        Page 6 of http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/lbns/1517T5988-S.PL.pdf .

        Uh, transit advocates do not advocate for transit funds to be a slush fund for other priorities like education and highways. Especially when some of this multimodal money is for special needs transportation. Right?

        Please clear this up Brent.

      6. I think you cleared it up, Joe, other than the education reference that has no relation to the poison pill.

        It would be good for the governor to detail what items will keep their funding and what will get cut if he swallows the pill.

      7. Thanks Brent and I appreciate you accepting my clarity. I think the Governor should do as you recommend. After he puts the poison pill in the trash can and say, “Sorry environmentalists but you are on your own and I’ll sign the first petition to let voters decide”.

        Let the voters decide if this carbon fuel standard is so important. After all, voters have decided on gay marriage, weed/pot/marijuana, education spending, our primary system, and other issues of state unity.

      8. I don’t think any of us who are worthy of the title “transit advocate” can be…

        Joe, with all due respect, I don’t think someone who regularly votes for Republicans is in a position to run around declaring litmus tests for who counts as a “transit advocate”. I understand that you are a transit advocate, even though your Republican voting habit works against transit, because you have other priorities that you place above transit when choosing which party to support. I don’t think your other priorities are correct, but that’s neither here nor there. Some of us think climate change is a really big problem, and using the tools we’ve got to start getting our carbon emissions under control is a very high priority, and when a tiny amount of transit funding is the tradeoff, it’s a real cost, but a real cost worth paying for what we get. I understand you don’t understand or care about the threat of climate change, and so your priorities are different, but please don’t pretend you have any standing to declare who is and is not a worthy of the labe ‘transit advocate’.

      9. djw, with respect, I get what you’re saying. I don’t share your priorities and you clearly don’t share mine such as getting more transit more places & making transit bipartisan.

        But I think it’s time some of us around here started defining “transit advocate” instead of letting people act in our name and use our endorsements to get re-elected only to do things like give WEA union bosses $500 million of ST3 money or in my very personal error endorse a US Congresswoman who won’t answer my follow-up post-2014 endorsement question why she in early 2015 voted against Amtrak funding.

        If you want to join in that conversation, sure. I encourage it – once you sign your name, not some silly handle.

      10. I like the Initiative idea, also. I doubt it will pass, but it will give a good test of the level of actual approval of the concept. If more than 40% approve it the first time around when few people understand the idea, it should be possible to pass it on the second or third time.

        Then it won’t be a political football.

      11. I don’t share your priorities and you clearly don’t share mine such as getting more transit more places

        Nope. This isn’t fair, reasonable or correct. You’re working hard to not get it. I support this, and you know it. I ride the county connectors occasionally and think they’re a great service. There are somethings I might be able to trade a state subsidy of that program for. I make tradeoffs with the various things I support when I have to. Note that if the party you work to keep in power had had less power, this trade-off might not have been necessary. By supporting Republicans you risk transit, but you do so, presumably, because there are some other things Republican deliver that you value more. We all make trade-offs, it’s just we have different prices. Your pose here is that we should all accept you as a transit advocate even though you fight to give the anti-transit party more power, but when the rest of support trading off some transit goal for something we find to be more urgent or important, we’re traitors an not really transit advocates at all. Can you really not see the double standard here?

      12. Let’s grant your premise that Republicans are anti-transit for a moment.

        Okay, so why did Republicans in the 10th Legislative District fight, fight, fight for transit so hard?

        Why did Republicans over Senator Curtis King’s public objections grant MORE transit grants?

        Why did Republicans give Sound Transit almost the full transit authority until a DEMOCRAT decided to give $500 mil to the WEA because she didn’t like WSDOT getting excused from the sales tax to fund more projects, more often? It’s another DEMOCRAT who is working to take MORE money away from transit.

        Are you sure Republicans are your only problem?

        No, I think both parties have a problem with transit. I also think people who think other parts of the state budget are non-negotiable but transit’s budgeted funds are negotiable need to look in the mirror.

        We should have fought for regulatory relief for transit agencies for more projects, more often. Let’s make that the goal. Because for transit advocates, appeasing WEA union bosses is NOT our problem. Funding the fight against global warming from our busted budgets is NOT our problem. Covering for tax loopholes given to the roads lobby is NOT our problem. Our problem is more transit, more places, more often. Gee, maybe I’m turning into our own pet little Curtis King.

      13. Some Republicans support transit some of the time. They all support Curtis King for majority leader–not something anyone who supports transit in any meaningful or serious way can do.

        There are a few pro-life Democrats in the house. If I were pro-life, I’d be pretty unimpressed with their commitment to the cause; their occasional vote for a restriction on abortion would pale in comparison to the impact of their support for Nancy Pelosi as the leader (and, if a majority, agenda-setter) for their party. The best–most direct, most obvious path at the state level to support transit funding is to minimize the amount of power Republicans have. *Of course* Democrats aren’t perfect, but we’re doing a comparative analysis. In the case of the political play that broke Joe’s brain, Ferrell’s gambit was only possible because Republicans had already ran with the idea of dipping into ST to fund other priorities.

        What do you think ST would be getting right now with Governor McKenna and GOP control in both houses?

        Funding the fight against global warming from our busted budgets is NOT our problem

        That’s a dishonest description of the situation, as you know perfectly well. The money will be funding other things altogether. The Republicans as good as cut the funding themselves when they made it the price for enacting one of Inslee’s signature goals. They may not have known what he was going to do, but they knew it was a real possibility. They didn’t care because they don’t care about transit.

      14. djw, I’m tired of your justifications of your party. But I gotta tell ya, any transfer of transit victories in dollars to other governmental functions is wrong to me. Jessyn sold us out – we could have had a referendum on the gas tax instead. [ad hom]

        Sound Transit’s role is not to pay for education, that’s NOT our problem. Transit’s role is NOT to pay for more roads because that’s what this “poison pill” WILL do.

        No OUR problems are more transit funding, some regulatory relief to speed up transit projects and protecting what’s ours. Because when what’s theirs/other government functions is not negotiable and what’s transit is negotiable – we will ALWAYS lose. ALWAYS.

        As to, “What do you think ST would be getting right now with Governor McKenna and GOP control in both houses?” I think we’d get a fair deal. I know Rob, he isn’t anti-transit.

        I’ll say it again – both parties have a problem with transit.

      15. I just crossed the line. I should have said “enough about the sellout” not “the traitor”.

        I didn’t mean to impugn Jessyn Farrell’s patriotism in any way. Dammit Joe, you should know better!

      16. How, you’re vying for the title of “most BS spouted in one post” award. The Dems did NOT – I repeat, DID NOT – transfer money from ST to education. It was republicans, and only republicans, who at first taxed ST $518M. Rep Farell added an amendment to move that money from the general fund into a new Puget Sound only education account.

        It’s amazing to see someone rewriting history that’s only a few weeks old.

      17. Okay as a comment vigilante, I’ll just say let’s have this discussion if Jessyn is so Beyond Sanity as to come here and ask for a STB endorsement in 2016. OK?

        Let me also say in the name of integrity, I think in all fairness a Jaime Herrera Butler who I endorsed in 2014 to put the final seal on a megaproject highway bridge over the Columbia River Ben S. and a lot of you guys didn’t want to happen was a big mistake in endorsing. Jaime repeatedly votes against Amtrak likely because it’s on a conservative group’s scorecard. That’s anti-transit too.

    2. What I just sent Governor Inslee:

      Dear Governor Inslee;

      I am asking you to reconsider efforts to undo the successfully negotiated agreement on a new revenue transportation package. I am asking you to please consider the fact rural voters like I will be screwed twice if you enact a low carbon fuels standard: First because you will take away our transit grants that Island Transit needs to connect between Skagit County & Island County. Second because our fuel bills will be even more expensive. A double-whammy that will give us in rural areas almost nothing of tangible, take-home value.

      Now if we get all Republican control of the Governor’s Mansion and the State Legislature, there will be little to no incentive for them to restore the transit grants that lost money in 2015. But many will vote Republican to get need financial relief from your low-carbon fuel tax. So as an Island Transit user, I am urging you Governor to please be reasonable.

      If you truly think this low-carbon fuel standard is so important, please just send it cleanly to voters. If voters vote it down, at least its advocates did their best on an issue of state unity.

      There you go. I decided to omit the fact I generally vote Republican.

      1. You might want to read the whole article first, especially the part detailing how the majority of state funding going to the multimodal transportation account will not be touched by the poison pill.

    3. @Joe “Also, the same people who want Inslee will take the pill will vote D in any general election against almost if not any R. Just so that’s clear.”

      Seeing what happens when the (R)s have power in this state, how could you ever expect anyone that typically votes (D) to ever vote for an (R), even if they were a true, centrist politician? Ever since Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom crossed the partisan line, the (R)s have been holding our legislature hostage, and it would be hard to believe an (R) that says they are going to vote their values rather than party (holds true for (D)s too).

      In my opinion, they only reason the (R)s actually negotiated and passed the recent budget (with numbers and items favorable to what the (D)s wanted) is because a big election year is coming up and they know people are growing tired of their obstructionist garbage. The poison pill and the 10% “tax upon tax” for ST are their way of saving face with one last “gotcha” as they retreat. The governor is calling out their bullshit and it’ll be interesting to see how the (R)s react after the pill is churning in Washington’s stomach.

      1. Your comments prove my point the same people who want Inslee will take the pill will vote D in any general election against almost if not any R. Just goes to show there is NO upside to throwing away vital multimodal dollars we will never get back for our great state.

        You think compromise is “holding our legislature hostage”. You also don’t give a damn about who that poison is going to hurt, you selfish….

        Ds like you are why I left the Left.

      2. When the moderate Republicans prove they have enough state represenatives to reliably neutralize the knee-jerk anti-tax, anti-transit, anti-urban ideologues, then I’ll consider voting Republican again. But the fear now is that too many of them are ideologues, and even those who are not can be jerked around by their party. I wouldn’t mind half the legislature being Avgeek Joes, but it’s not happening yet.

      3. Thanks Mike Orr, heady stuff I need to think about in relation to Republicans today.

        Problem is, as we all know now, I’m all for putting the education industry on a leash. Ditto the roads industry. Ditto the prisons industry.

      4. Yeah, what Mike said. There just aren’t that many Dan Evans type Republicans anymore (despite the fact that we had a bunch back in the day). It sucks, because even when one appears, they are overwhelmed by the rest of the party. So someone like Joel Pritchard (a great state representative) wouldn’t get far in today’s Republican Party, I’m afraid.

  6. The problem I see with the USA’s approach to low carbon fuel standards is that it seems to assume that various biofuels are lower carbon than gasoline and diesel from mineral oil. Sadly, the methods used in the USA to produce ethanol make it worse than gasoline and almost as bad as coal. Not that you should trust Wikipedia, but the graph in the Wikipedia article is a good start for further reading.

    Propane and methane are both better fuels in terms of carbon content per unit of energy, and propane is already sold at a number of gas stations. Propane vehicle conversions are not unusual, and in fact I’ve run into taxi cabs in BC that are propane conversions.

    It seems to me that a program that helped encourage propane conversions for gasoline vehicles and LNG vehicles in place of doesel could do a lot more good than promoting ethanol and biodiesel.

    This isn’t necessarily completely irrelevant to transit. The first logical step for promoting propane conversions would be those places (such as possibly King County Metro’s parts warehouse) with propane powered forklifts. Such places already have fueling systems in place for propane vehicles. Next up would be the gasoline road fleet that are used for various tasks.

    It would also be nice if some progress could be made on the Washington State Ferries liquified natural gas conversion proposal. There are some ferries in Europe that are using this already, and Tacoma happens to have one of the nation’s experts in converting locomotives to liquified natural gas. Some of the ferries use the same engine design.

    1. Methane is definitely the lowest-carbon fossil fuel. If the ferries can be converted and roughly keep their power — a big “if” because diesel has a much higher “energy density” than even liquified methane — then do it, definitely.

      If nothing else it would make ferry crossings much more pleasant on the upper deck……

      1. Believe me, horsepowwer loss is important to Canadian National and the other freight railroads that are working on this.

        They are doing it, by the way, entirely based on economics.

      2. Even if methane is low-carbon, it still contributes to global warming in its own right. In fact, method is a far more potent planet-warmer than carbon is. Replacing carbon with methane is exactly the opposite of what we want to do if fighting climate change is the objective.

      3. asdf,

        You’re right we don’t want to release a lot of Methane to the atmosphere. It’s a powerful greenhouse gas when free (17x Carbon Dioxide IIRC). But we’re talking about burning it here. CH4 + 202 ==> C02 + 2H20. Ratio is 1 mole carbon dixoxide to 2 moles water. There’s no better ratio of C02 to water in any hydrocarbon.

        Heptane (“regular” gasoline) is C7H16. C7H16 + 11 O2 ==> 7 C02 + 8 H20. Ratio is 1 mole carbon dioxide to 1 and 1/7 mole water. MUCH worse.

        Diesel is a longer chain hydrocarbon and only partially saturated, C12H23 according to Google which means that the water yield per mole of carbon dioxide is even lower.

  7. I was really upset when our legislators allowed the poison pill because it meant something like this could happen.

    As an advocate for the Northgate Ped bridge I feel like we are being jerked around.

    I suppose next we’ll have to fight to pass bridging the gap. Hope that funding doesn’t get moved around to somewhere else too.

    1. The only transit funding being jeopardized is the vehicle weight fee collected by the state. Bridging the Gap and Move Seattle are funding by local taxes and fees.

      1. Brent,

        The funding at risk includes the Northgate Bridge funds. There were specifically included in the mobility/transit funds for the state package. When the governor signed the bill we thought our job was done, but now its at risk again.

        Its also been included in the bridging the gap levy, but we actually have to pass that first to secure the funds, and giving how the council members have been shifting funds around on the measure even before we pass it, there is no guarantee that the funds won’t get moved after we pass it.

        I am venting frustration of feeling like you had won a hard fought battle just to have the rug pulled out from under you again.

      2. There’s no reason why Sound Transit and SDOT, with their huge tax streams and forthcoming ballot requests, shouldn’t be able to cover the Northgate Station bike-ped bridge, even if Gov. Inslee were to eat the poison pill and lose the state’s contribution. I would expect STB to demand no less.

        Is a carbon standard worth devolving these projects to local governments? We can also remember that many of these multimodal grants, for rural transit and even certain bike trails, serve GOP-held districts whose reps would need to face angry constituents. Discuss….

      3. As to;

        Is a carbon standard worth devolving these projects to local governments? We can also remember that many of these multimodal grants, for rural transit and even certain bike trails, serve GOP-held districts whose reps would need to face angry constituents. Discuss….

        What tangible effects will some “carbon standard” get us versus great transit?

        As to tangible effects, I mean:

        Will we see less congestion? NO.

        Will we see it cheaper and faster to get more Sound Transit projects done? NO.

        Will we see any new bus stops anywhere? NO.

        So why is there even a debate about this? Why? We can go without the standard we don’t get anything for as transit advocates or we can give up vital transit dollars for other causes.

      4. @Mike

        I suppose you haven’t been paying any attention to what has been going on with the bridge project for the last several months. Folks have already demanded several times that ST and SDOT provide more money for the bridge. We already know they will not. In fact, we have already seen that they are willing to drop all funding for the bridge if no other funding is forthcoming.

        These two vehicles (Bridging the Gap and the state transportation budget) are the best opportunity we have seen yet and to tell us we should go back to and ask ST/SDOT again is about the same as telling us to give up or just hope that everything will come out ok.

        This isn’t going to happen without a lot of effort, and folks who keep saying “just ask ST/SDOT to pay for it” aren’t helping anything.

      5. The tangible effect is that Washington State will have actually done something to combat Climate Change. It will have changed the equation of the economics used to justify the production of refined fossil fuels and thereby lessen the demand for them. It will spur innovation to utilize alternative forms of energy for transport and in the production of goods and services. It will spur people to live closer to their work, to live more densely, and to make use of public transit and carbon neutral forms of transit. It will be acting in concert with the other 2 coastal states and the Province of British Columbia in creating a powerful economic zone that values conservation, and environmental stewardship.

        But when you have stooges like Sen. Inhofe throwing snowballs on the floor of the US Senate in the valiant effort to further the falsities that climate change is not human caused or is not happening, it is hard to see the tangible effects when people are distracted by such charlatans.

      6. You lost me at, “The tangible effect is… It will spur people …to make use of public transit and carbon neutral forms of transit.”

        I thought we didn’t need to rob from rural transit grants to pay “to make use of public transit and carbon neutral forms of transit.”

        Or am I just terminally stupid and need to take a long, probably one way, hike in the North Cascades until Al Dimond the Bear finds me and starts eating on me?

        That said, I get we may or may not have climate change. I certainly get burning fossil fuels with CO2 – Carbon to the simplistic – is not as sweet as burning H2O or using electricity from a beau-ti-ful damn dam.

      7. Joe, it’s not open for debate any longer. Anthropomorphic climate change is happening. When you get that, then pithy arguments about rural funding of transit have a different perspective.

        And may I remind you that we wouldn’t be having this discussion if “your” party hadn’t behaved so badly.

      8. Well Charles, this may discomfort some, but since you addressed me I’m going to respond.

        I’m not a climate change denier. I’m a skeptic about the details. I do agree that more CO2 – carbon dioxide, not carbon – in the air is gone from ok to too much of a good thing to simply a bad thing when from fossil fuels excessively burned.

        I don’t think hurting rural transit is a thoughtful solution to healing the planet from CO2 from fossil fuels. Even Martin H. Duke agrees with me, it’d be a disaster for rural areas that need the grants and won’t get the money back.

        Oh and my party behaving badly? Uh huh, yeah, well both parties have. You can take this idea to the voters, or you can forget about it. Quit picking on people who, with the exception of Joe here, can’t really speak up or fight back or know the stakes.

        Multimodal transit grants getting voter approval? We’re the ones that need protection because we can’t get the money to even have a think tank to protect transit funding. You climate change activists got the money, go to the voters.

      9. “Is a carbon standard worth devolving these projects to local governments? ”

        Absolutely not, for the following reasons:

        1) Any carbon standard that Inslee comes up with will likely be challenged in court. If Inslee loses, the poison pill becomes all loss, no gain.

        2) Even if it holds up in court, it’s likely to be so riddled with loopholes, sketchy science, and giveaways to special interests that the end result won’t really be doing anything to help the planet anyway. Most likely, it’s going to be some sort of mandate for biofuels. Great for the biofuel industry, while not really reducing real emissions, as forests get cleared to produce the fuels. (Biofuels also burn less efficiently than plain-old gasoline, so you need more of it to move a car the same amount of distance).

        While I definitely want to stop climate change as much as the next guy, I am skeptical that what Inslee wants to do will really help stop climate change vs. just create the outward appearance of such, while securing him campaign donations from the biofuel industry.

        3) Global warming is a global problem, and Washington State’s carbon emissions are insignificant compared to that of the rest of the world. There is nothing that Inslee or Washington State can do to make any real impact in climate change besides have plans in place for the state to adapt to it.

      10. asdf2, why didn’t I think of these arguments? Wowza, time these STB folks got their heads outta their butts and opposed this with my level of tenacity!

        Transit will do a lot more good for the environment then political games! Time for Inslee to be a GENTLEMAN and honor his agreements.

        Get that people? Get that?

      11. Big things happen when individuals act in concert. I’ve seen a quote attributed to the Dali Lama that says: ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.’ In order to address Global warming/Climate Change, it requires action from all parties. It is silly to say we’re just a small part and our part won’t matter.

        I don’t think anything worth pursuing should be cowed by the threat of a lawsuit. “Bring it on”.

        And as for Gov. Inslee, what agreement hasn’t he honored in this? The Republicans simply wrote a “consequence” into the law which they saw as damaging to Democratic interests. The threat got amended by Democrats to shunt the money transfer towards education in Democratic dominated Central Puget Sound, but leaving intact the impact on Republican dominated rural areas.

        By the Governor taking the poison pill, we get 4 things. 1) We get progress in environmental management 2) money for education 3) Full funding authority for Sound Transit 4) shifting the pain mostly to Republican districts. The Republicans gave Inslee a choice and he took it. Seems like he lived up to the agreement exactly.

        So, I’m sorry your rural transit district got hit, (and I’m sorry a Seattle project I care about may be a casualty of this as well) but your short sighted, selfish representatives probably don’t care much for your transit district if they were willing to use it as cannon fodder. They probably see Transit as some evil socialist thing that should be snuffed out. If you want to help your transit district get funding, tell your representatives, to stop f##king with urban metros. Or better yet, vote for representatives that will work for real collaboration rather than brinksmanship.

        It would have been great if Dems and Repubs could have played nice and for the best interests of all parties and fully funded transit everywhere needed (and education too). But, if we have to play the game of brinksmanship, I have to say my original assessment of Inslee as a lazy entitled snob just got amended to “cunning bastard.” One that I’ll vote for again, this time, gladly!

      12. Charles;

        As to,

        1) We get progress in environmental management 2) money for education 3) Full funding authority for Sound Transit 4) shifting the pain mostly to Republican districts. The Republicans gave Inslee a choice and he took it. Seems like he lived up to the agreement exactly.

        Please excuse yourself from the transit advocate table. None of those goals are pro-transit or help move the ball forward in making transit bipartisan. All of those goals are for partisan Democrats and Seattle Transit Blog isn’t an extension of the WEA or the Democratic Party.

        My agenda here is clear: More transit to more places more often. I thought that was what transit advocates were for. In that context, you are part of the problem.

        Oh and the agreement is one that should be honored. Inslee could have said no, but he took the deal so take it like a man and move on. Undo this, and no Republican will be able to negotiate in good faith with this Governor’s Office. Or possibly the next Democrat on any issue.

        If you think brinkmanship is bad, try party of NO. NO transit, NO education funding, NO environmental protection and certainly NO compromise. The Republicans have the gavel in the Senate.

        I’ve said enough. Goodbye and good riddance to losers using us transit advocates for their hyperpartisan agendas.

      13. “Oh and my party behaving badly? Uh huh, yeah, well both parties have.”

        Joe, do you really believe Skagit County or any of the rural counties would vote for a transit tax if it were offered them? Large cities vote for transit, rural counties don’t, and suburban cities are swing. What happened in the last Pierce Transit vote? Tacoma and Lakewood voted for, Puyallup and the rest of the exurbs voted against, and it failed. Spokane Transit’s failed too for essentially the same reason. Everything I’ve seen suggests that rural/exurban areas are associated with conservative/Republican views, an the majority of conservatives/Republicans are pro-highway and anti-transit. I’m glad there are exceptions like you and I hope you and your allies can turn things around in your party, at least in Washington state, but it’s a long shot and a long-term goal.

        The Democrats have been more mixed. Frank Chopp could have helped transit numerous times but chose not to. But a large percentage of D’s believe in transit for equality/ecological reasons, and the leadership at least nominally does even if it’s not always visible in policy. In contrast, a large percentage of R’s believe transit is incompatible with their capitalistic/libertarian values, or when they do support transit it’s only for commuter expresses in the suburbs/exurbs. The leadership reflects these policy trends, which is why the R’s wanted to haircut ST3 at $11 billion, and why the legislature is more supportive of ST than of local transit agencies. It’s not “both parties behaving badly” and running away from the center. It’s one party running away from the center, and the other party trying to hold the pieces together and keep things running and having some flaws.

      14. Mike,

        Great comment but yeah both parties have room to improve on transit.

        I know in 2008 Skagit did vote for a transit levy lift. Island Transit did in 2009. So your generalizations about rural areas are a bit off.

        I will say the Republican Party is slowly coming my way on transit as we educate the public.

      15. “By the Governor taking the poison pill, we get 4 things. 1) We get progress in environmental management 2) money for education 3) Full funding authority for Sound Transit 4) shifting the pain mostly to Republican districts. The Republicans gave Inslee a choice and he took it. Seems like he lived up to the agreement exactly. ”

        The governor taking the poison pill only gives us 1) and 4). 2) happens if ST3 passes. 3) has already happened, in the sense that we now get to vote, but still requires passage by the voters to spend the money.

      16. It’s worth pointing out that “shifting the pain to Republican districts” is a terribly illiberal thing to do. The idea that opportunity should not be limited by geography is a core liberal idea. In this age of wealth concentration it’s not one to be forgotten. It feels like bad politics, to me, to kill these grants — like something to alienate suburban and rural swing voters, more like a desperate power play than political leadership. It would have to be one hell of a fuel standard to be worth it.

      17. I suppose I should point out that it is mere supposition that transit grants would be defunded. We don’t know which programs would get cut when the poison pill reduces annual multimodal account funding from $140 million down to $80 million. It might very well be grants to urban areas that get cut first. Unless we hear from the governor, I don’t think we know which programs will get slashed.

        And, BTW, please don’t assume that those analyzing cost/benefit of the poison pill are saying “take the poison pill”, unless the commenter is actually saying, “Please take the poison pill”. We can have a rational, open-minded discussion, I hope.

      18. Thank you Brent, very well put. I hope most of us are opposed to Inslee taking the poison pill for questionable if any benefit to transit advocates. It’s time to let it be.

        The fourth arm of government – direct democracy – is already working on a low-CO2 solution. Odds are I’d support that over doing nothing or a poison pill that turns Republicans from negotiators to blatant obstructionists. If you think the last 6 months were difficult…

      19. It’s worth pointing out that “shifting the pain to Republican districts” is a terribly illiberal thing to do. The idea that opportunity should not be limited by geography is a core liberal idea.

        I don’t disagree, but it’s a bit more complicated than that, isn’t it? For one thing, the Representatives of these rural districts did this to themselves. They decided to try to prevent Inslee from accomplishing one of his signature goals by making the price for that goal shifting money around in a way that would harm transit in their districts. For another thing, it seems quite likely that their constituents, who evidently don’t care much about transit and virtually never use it, would probably approve of shifting that money to roads.

      20. Joe, I’m quite comfortable at the Transit Advocate table. And I’m also an advocate for Urbanism, for public education, for public safety, for healthcare as a human right and many other things.

        When faced with obstructionist, anti-transit, anti-urban anti-government actors in the legislature, I applaud the Governor for looking out for the best interests of most of the people and reminding the enablers of these obstructionists that there is a political cost to playing those games. Central Puget Sound is going to get more light rail if it wants it, they will get more education funding despite obstructionist desire to starve our schools. And we will get a mechanism that acts to change the equation of our Co2 producing habits.

        Things that we may sacrifice in the short term like our pedestrian bridge and continued funding for bicycle infrastructure are short term losses. Their loss will engender people to redouble their efforts to seek change and to neutralize the external threats to them.

        And Joe, it’s interesting that in the face of the boomerang of these obstructionist tactics that just smacked you in the face you would suggest even more of that. You know that if the legislature including Senate Republicans fail to fund education, the Supreme Court is going to open a can of whoop ass on them. This could even include jail time. So, tell me again how doing nothing is going to get you what you want?

      21. Charles,

        No you’re more comfortable at the Democratic Party table. I’m not real wild or comfortable about somebody who is in the “many other things” business who will say transit dollars are negotiable but other governmental functions are not.

        I want more light rail. I want the proper amount of education funding as defined by McCleary without stealing from Sound Transit instead of reforming the tax code to pay for it.

        Oh and there is, a “mechanism that acts to change the equation of our Co2 producing habits”… it’s called TRANSIT. Another “mechanism that acts to change the equation of our Co2 producing habits” is attempting to get on the ballot. Direct democracy, it’s a wonderful thing. Get with it, bro, you’ll like it when your voice isn’t muzzled by a prostitute, aka a typical legislator.

        As to, “You know that if the legislature including Senate Republicans fail to fund education, the Supreme Court is going to open a can of whoop ass on them. This could even include jail time” – well instead of stealing from transit, I’d love to see the Supremes say tax loopholes are no more until the funding is there to meet legal requirements passed by the same whorish, prostituting legislature.

        As to, “tell me again how doing nothing is going to get you what you want?” Uh, we didn’t do nothing. We negotiated for a good transportation package with compromises by all to get more for transit. Start undoing those compromises and the Republican State Senate is just going to become like the Other Washington where they just sit there in a corner and say “no, we don’t trust you to keep your word”. Is this what you REALLY want? Are you sure?

  8. The climate emission impacts of this are very unknown. What does this money get spent on? If Senate Republicans as a F U force it to be spent on egregious highway expansions cross base highway style all of the emissions gains made by the LCFS standard are instantly negated.

    The chance of the senate flipping in 2016 are very low. The probability of Senate Rs rolling themselves and re funding multi modal is nil. So if this happens the nearly billion dollars of funds are gone.

    Worst case scenario for climate? This EO gets signed, enviros and Inslee claim big movement in climate. Multi-modal dollars disappear for new highway expansions. Inslee loses re elect and new governor rolls back low carbon fuels.

      1. Yup, all the more reason to tell Gov’r Inslee to blink on this one.

        He won’t be able to negotiate any more deals with any state legislature if he does his own thing. We the people of this state do NOT want another $1+ per gallon of gas and we sure as heck are tired of transit being used as a punching bag and a cheap date.

      2. Maybe our gas should be more expensive. In parts of Europe, gas costs $6-$8/gallon. There’s also a much bigger push for effective public transportation. While in the US, we have large, inefficient cars and people choosing to live far from where they work.

        I’m torn on this. I like the environment. And I like more funding for public transportation. Whichever decision Inslee makes, I hope the state makes the best of it.

      3. Maybe our gas should be more expensive.

        OF COURSE it should. It’s badly underpriced, given the externalities we’ll all be paying for from it.

      4. “Most of Europe is smaller than America”

        But it’s comparable to western Washington. $5/gallon would would buy more transit than we’ve ever seen, enough to fund something like half-hourly ST Express to Mt Vernon and Bellingham and hourly/weekend service on the connectors and Island Transit #1. That would at least approach European service levels at European distances. We could always give some kind of concession to the Rocky Mountain states, like development funds or exempting them from the tax.

        Then there’s intercity transit: there should be something going several times a day between; e.g., Seattle and Chicago and Seattle and Denver. Whether it’s a bus or a train, or privately funded or subsidized is a secondary issue. I’ve been on Greyhound’s New York – Chicago – LA-or-SF trunk and where most of the east-west routes converge between Chicago and Denver, and it’s ridiculous to think that only 200 people a day travel across the country when the population is 300 million. There would surely be five times that number if the bus/train transit weren’t so bare-bones skeletal and prone to breakdowns.

      5. Mike Orr, I don’t think we’ll ever see gas tax money go towards transit. Nice try though…

        I do agree that thanks to the slow speeds & unreliability of mass transit a lot of people fly commercial cross-country.

      6. Energy tax credits are not the same as “Gas Taxes” A Cap and Trade system means that either the producers minimize their environmental impact or they pay for the privilege of polluting our environment. That cost is likely passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

    1. “If Senate Republicans as a F U force it to be spent on egregious highway expansions cross base highway style all of the emissions gains made by the LCFS standard are instantly negated.”

      They already did the F U, it’s in the poison pill. By the time they get get back to the next two-year budget, they’ll have other priorities to think about. Even if all the money is spent on new highways, which is already predictable because (A) it’s a highway fund and (B) they always prefer new miles over maintenance, that doesn’t mean it negates all the gains. The gains are perpetual, and once a carbon-pricing mechanism is in place it can be expanded or improved later. If it’s not in place you still have to take the first small step. It’s like Link. Before it opened everyone was dubious about it and it was hard to pass, but once it’s on the ground and people see it and ride it, soon every neighborhood and city is clamoring for it. Or like gays in the military, which took decades to pass and then it did, and it turned out to be no big deal and it’s hard to understand what all the fuss was about.

      The highways only generate carbon emissions if people drive on them. The urban growth boundary and the exurbanites’ hatred of density will limit the population in those areas that can use the highway. And I can’t believe that the next thirty years will be exactly the same as the last thirty. People will eventually take carbon emissions seriously and drive less. The car-loving boomers will be in nursing homes, the smartphone-loving millenials will be middle-aged, and their children will be in college and probably driving less than the boomers. In any case, even if the highways add to emissions, those are just a few more of the many wrong turns we’ve made, like the deep-bore tunnel for instance, and they’re dwarfed by I-5’s, 405’s, I-90’s and SeaTac airport’s impacts. And by our lack of commuter/regional/intercity rail investments since the 1970s oil crisis. You’ve got to turn around at some point, and it will always be a few highways and deep-bore tunnels earlier or later.

  9. How could anyone ethically vote for state republicans, with BS like this??

    I do admire the political courage of Jay Inslee to eschew transpo money to get this international compact through, though delaying the Northgate Ped bridge is devastating.

    1. “How could anyone ethically vote for state republicans, with BS like this??”

      Maybe some of us do NOT want a low carbon fuel standard that will raise the price of gas WITHOUT voter approval?

      Maybe some of us wanted a REFERENDUM on the gas tax instead of, well, every time we discuss it we all get angry… so we’re tabling it for six months.

      Maybe some of us distrust government and want government on a leash after all the abuses like bullying epidemic in public schools, Island Transit mismanagement, wasteful spending on retreats at ritzy restaurants instead of public education, I can go on. Just ask.

      If you want your low carbon fuel high tax buddies, send it to voters.

      1. The whole point of a representative democracy is not having to vote on every issue. That’s why we elect people to do that. Don’t like what they are doing? Vote them out. Frankly, too many things go to the voters as it is. An engaged electorate would do wonders for the productivity of multiple areas of government.

        Your vote for your representative is your leash.

      2. In gerrymandered districts designed to protect incumbents, that leash isn’t strong enough. I’d like to see a certain R voted out of my district as too rabidly right – now she’s running for Congress, most likely to be replaced by another anti-transit legislator.

        The fourth branch of Washington State Government – direct democracy – counters that weakened leash.

      3. Lol, classic deflection tactic. Even if you don’t like the policy, there is no reason to hold up appropriate appropriated appropriations that ought to go to one project instead go to another, demonstrably destructive one when that policy is enacted.

        It’s a thuggish tactic and makes me wonder how one could support a party that is so anti-republic.

      4. Now hold on a minute….

        This low carbon fuels standard could always go to voters.

        I’m pro letting the flawed transportation stand.

        How is that anti-Republic? Oh, that’s right you’re wobbly when it comes to defending transit funds because you want to use transit funding to fund education and low carbon fuels standards where the multimodal money will go towards funding highways.

      5. No, using transit funding to fund education was solely a consequences of policies of the Republican Party. In a coup to that party, Dems were able to shift that money from road constructions to puget sound education funding. Another great example of one party being good, one party being incredibly horrible.

        At this point, you’re not really gonna be rational, I don’t think, so I’ll stop engaging.

      6. I will vote for Republicans with my eyes wide open. I will NOT however give Republicans a blank check and voted for the Democratic Party candidate in one 39th LD race due to her opponent being so rabidly right anti-transit.

      7. Hey Zach L –

        In representative government, you don’t always get what you want.

        Watching your comments closely the last few weeks, it is clear that you are totally inflexible to positions taken by those that do not hold *exactly* the same positions as yourself.

        This the first time in years that the Rs have had any power at the state level. While I typically vote D, I appreciate the fact that there was, for once, some real back and forth in Olympia. Too often Western Washington politics are left and lefter. This does not lead to optimal policy decisions, as every party has a blind spot.

        Neither option for Inslee here is that great … Given that, I’m with Joe, forget about the low carbon standard for now and keep the transit funding. I’d rather see alternatives to driving (given unpredictable oil prices) than more expensive fuel at the pump and transit choices that can’t keep up with growth.

      8. Left and lefter would be a good dynamic. Unfortunately, you’ve always had a strong right-wing strain in your Democratic Party in Washington State.

        Otherwise you’d have an income tax by now. Washington “tax haven for billionaires” State is not exactly left-wing.

      9. The reason we have a representative democracy, a republican form of government guaranteed by the constitution is that we expect our legislature to do the hard work of balancing taxes and outcomes. People selfishly only looking out for their own pocketbook are not reliable sources of solutions in a civilization.

  10. These latter three sources of funding for the multimodal account are not touched by the poison pill, and collectively add up to more than the redirected funds, so a majority of multimodal funding will remain intact.

    Any transit advocate worthy of the title doesn’t believe in trading in hard won transit funding for anything. Not the WEA, not the road lobby, not the environmental lobby. Stand your ground, ladies and gentlemen or bug out.

    I’d rather have 101 – counting me – transit advocates ready to breathe fire than a bunch of wimps who wanna use transit money for a squishy slush fund. Perhaps because unlike many of you, I have had to actively campaign for new transit service in the wake of the Great Recession.

    Transt advocates don’t need this low carbon fuels standard to accomplish our goals. We don’t need to give the education industry or the road industry more money. We need to keep and better manage our winnings.

    I hope this impromptu Transit Advocate Whip has made my case.

  11. $62M per year statewide is chump change for urban transit systems. This is a big hit for rural agencies, mostly. If rural voters think this is a problem they should probably talk to their Republican representatives about not using mobility grants as a hostage.

    From an environmentalist urban voters’ perspective, this is pretty much a win, although a good project here or there might take a hit.

    1. For rural areas, it’s a nightmare Martin. A nightmare. Most of the time, I can’t get my own district legislators (39th) to return e-mails about transit needs and they’re gerrymandered in. I am convinced we are not going to see this funding back ever if Inslee pulls this stunt. How can any transit advocate support this, I dunno.

      Oh and we do not need this low carbon fuels standard. We do not. Our air is just fine and if there is truly a crisis, the voters can always put this as an initiative to the people and end-run the legislature. We the people – that’s you and me and the rest of Washington State – did that on gun background checks, gay marriage, pot/weed/marijuana legalization, education funding, transit funding, the list goes on.

      1. Our air is not fine. By the time we feel a crisis it will be too late to do anything about it. These are the key truths of global climate change and we’ve know them for years.

        Big cities, major centers of commerce and industry, command the resources to ensure their survival in the face of climate impacts. Small towns and farmers don’t. When the river overflows big cities build levees, small towns move uphill, and farmers just get flooded. Here I’m thinking specifically of New Orleans, Valmeyer, and Missouri farms across the river from Cairo — all of their fates federal or state decisions with lots of federal funding involved (in the case of New Orleans, the entire course of the Mississippi River held in place against immense natural forces, mostly to preserve the city). Or consider the Dust Bowl, where farmers that couldn’t grow anything lost their land and moved to the urban fringe and the towns that supported them died. People that rely on nature most closely for their livelihoods will suffer most acutely from climate change. That’s grossly unfair, far out of proportion to responsibility for climate change.

        I’m not remotely convinced of Inslee’s strategy here, and I’m really particularly worried with the effects outside the Seattle area. My first thought is that doing it this way is really risky, and that I’d rather secure a political victory on the issue before acting on it. But climate change is big. The air isn’t fine.

      2. Thanks for that well thought out post Al. Even if the carbon tax isn’t ‘over the moon’ effective, it still send a clear message that we are serious about global warming, climate change, and green house gas emissions and are trying to reverse that. Hell, if it’s that wrong, then at least we can trade that for something better later on.
        I’m sorry Island Transit stands to lose a couple of million in state funding out of a budget of about $12 m for ops. I would normally pop off and say “Start charging a fare”, but understand that wouldn’t contribute much at all to the bottom line to do so and reduce ridership.
        Joe reminds me of Ben some years ago, being absolutely passionate about his beliefs, and I respect that, but 33% of the comments on this thread today don’t make you black and white ‘Right’.
        [ot]

      3. mic;

        Let me begin by saying I miss Ben as well. But you are not a jerk and nor is Ben.

        If you want to be, “serious about global warming, climate change, and green house gas emissions and are trying to reverse that” okay then ride transit and get more people to ride transit, vanpool and carpool. There you go. No need to hurt rural transit.

        Island Transit cannot afford right now to lose the money, period. Island Transit will be charging a fare – it’s how and when that are the true questions I’ll cover for the Whidbey Daily.

        I think if you really, truly want this you should go to the voters. Or back the carbon tax shift proposal mentioned in other comments. Okay?

      4. Al D, have you ever seen the New Madrid Floodway area across from Cairo? I have several times. The entire area is surrounded by levees and every major and minor road is on a high levee. The farmers in the 1920’s and 1930’s agreed to someday possibly being flooded, and it never happened except once in 2011. Every land purchaser for the past 85 years has known that it might be used for flood relief one day; it’s in all those deeds and theoretically reflected in their land purchase prices. Those farmers are even seeing better crop yields this year thanks to the new silt added to the soil. That whole story was mostly media hype to feed a story line that the Federal government is evil. Most residents in that region knew this land was set aside for flood relief all along — and thought the national media hype was terribly misguided. It’s just not an applicable reference here.

      5. @Al S: I actually haven’t seen it in person — I would have got pretty close in 2009, as I’d planned a bike ride that went through Cairo, but realized before starting that I wasn’t in good enough shape to finish it, and that was the part that got cut.

        Of course the farmers there didn’t really get screwed. Nor did the people of Valmeyer, really. I think there’s something still about the sort of adjustment required when you’re closely dependent on local conditions for your livelihood, but I definitely reached too far with the metaphor. Thanks for pointing that out.

      6. I agree that this is a disaster for rural areas. But if rural representatives don’t think so, there’s only so much I’m willing to give up to force them to improve their constituents’ lives over their strenuous objections.

        I’m not going to debate climate change with you here, but suffice it to say it’s something that the vast majority of voters that care about transit also care about.

        It’s true that we could get the same result via initiative, but then one could say the same thing about multimodal grants.

      7. Martin;

        Great points mostly.

        But as far as multimodal grants, that’s not something most of the public is educated about, much less eager to support.

        Environmental protections, that’s a different matter entirely.

        Surprise, surprise I know but I think we need to put transit first. Keep the grant funding and let those with the wealth & influence make the case for their climate change tax. Those who need the grants are almost if not powerless to reverse the very real harm losing these grants would create – please keep that in mind.

      8. I would rather keep the $700 million in the grants for transit and multimodal support. The biking community is staunchly opposed to this poison pill and shifting to a low carbon fuel standard. This simply is a double screw for rural counties of the state and gives the Rs more leverage for the next election.

        A carbon tax in exchange for an overall sales tax reduction is something that could pass BUT a sales tax reduction would need to happen.

      9. Our air is not fine. By the time we feel a crisis it will be too late to do anything about it. These are the key truths of global climate change and we’ve know them for years.

        1. There is documentation that shows the major mineral companies knew about the problem in the 1980s from their own research, and at that time formulated plans to try to impede regulations.

        The first accepted reports in scientific literature, and later general news, was in the 1960s.

        So, it’s more like decades already that we haven’t done much.

        2. It’s not just the air. In fact, arguably the far more serious issues for western Washington is the water. Right now the Columbia River is running at 70 deg. F., well above the tolerance point for most fish in the area. Willapa Bay is closed to all shellfish and crab harvesting, due to toxic algae, due in part to high water temperatures.

        Ocean acidification caused by increased carbon dioxide in the ocean water is leading to increasingly poor fish reproductions and therefore catches. Ocean acidification is also wrecking havoc with shellfish.

        Hope Ivars has a soybean based substitute they can start using!

        I’m not saying this is the way to tackle things, but continued hand wringing is certainly not accomishing anything.

    2. Yeah, that’s the way I’m leaning on this as well. But I could also see Inslee just waiting a couple years. If he is really confident that he can win back a majority in a couple years, then just wait. From a political standpoint, I don’t know if this gets him anything. Maybe a little more enthusiasm from folks that would vote for him anyway, but that’s about it.

  12. While I understand the gravity of climate change, I really think alarmist language like “poison pill” is quite inappropriate here. A “poison pill” would be something truly drastic like selling ST assets to Disney or banning buses from public roads. We shouldn’t fall into the Fox News trap of dramatic language every time we don’t get 100 percent of what some think that we should.

    I’m not upset at all. It’s only $700M (the SR 520 project between I-5 and Montlake in Seattle is $1.5B). The highway system carries buses and bicycles and goods that deliver things to us in addition to commuters. Given the decline of the condition of the highway system, it still won’t make up for the deficiencies that we have and is not funding widespread highway expansion. We’re playing catch-up already on even our most basic highway routes that keep our economy going.

    I am glad that we have a compromise, and that Governor Inslee is a consensus-builder leader and not some inflexible jerk like some other governors around the country. Let’s focus our energy in a more positive way — like how to make ST3 developed in a way to be more palatable to swing voters instead.

    1. Hey, at least Inslee’s an honest man. You could do a lot worse; for instance, you could have a Republican governor.

      [ad hom]

    2. Are we the frogs being boiled alive? I don’t know for sure, but am worried enough to look for bold leadership from our elected officials. Kicking the can down the road to the next election is no longer an option. Even the Pope is on-board now.
      Swallow the pill, bite the bullet, take the plunge or whatever you want to call it.
      Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

  13. Don’t want to listen to me fine, listen to Seattle Bike Blog:

    The Governor is currently mulling an idea that would trade hundreds of millions of dollars in bike/walk safety and trails funding for so-called “clean” fuels standards. WA Bikes has sent out an alert telling supporters to oppose this idea. You can use their handy online form to send Inslee a message yourself.
    . . .
    Let’s rewind: 94 percent of the $15 billion package is already directed to highways, and most of that funding will go to new highways or highway expansion projects (not necessary maintenance or paying off previous highway-building loans). These are long-term investments in more driving, more sprawling car-dependent developments, more public health crises and more greenhouse gas emissions.
    . . .
    Inslee once again fails to make the connection between highways and greenhouse gases, despite the fact that the state’s Department of Ecology says half of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. By abandoning the only funds in the transportation package that would actually help residents of our state get around without a car, he’s not doing the environment any favors.

    But far worse, the money he’s considering pulling is designed to prevent people from being killed or seriously injured while walking or biking. This isn’t just horse trading one environmental policy for another. These are lives we’re talking about.

    Safe Routes to School would be slashed nearly to death by this decision. $56 million can build a ton of safe crosswalks, sidewalks and bike routes for kids all across the state to get to school safely. That’s the great thing about walking and biking safety projects: Your money goes a lot further. $56 million doesn’t get you very far in a highway expansion project (it’s about 1.3 percent of the 520 Bridge Replacement budget), but it could dramatically improve safety in communities across the state.
    . . .
    When you add transit funding, the total comes to about $2 billion in quality projects providing non-driving options and safe streets around the state.
    . . .
    It doesn’t matter if you make gasoline slightly less damaging to the environment if you commit the state to drive even more than we already do. With enemies like Inslee, oil companies don’t need friends.

    There you go. All of you. Goodnight and may G*d continue to bless Puget Sound with our freedoms, more airplane noises and great transit!

    1. The lost revenue for a few projects is a drop in the bucket compared to establishing a price on carbon, which sets a precedent that can be built on long-term, and any flaws in the policy can be tweaked later. I don’t buy this idea that a few more highways would cancel out all the gains and more besides, because that’s looking at only the immediate impacts of the law rather than the long-term opportunities that would come with a pivot toward carbon pricing. I’m sorry if the tri-county connectors are one of the things that’s vulnerable, but the blame for that is on the majority of your party and the majority of your county’s residents. They could support a stable funding source for rural transit and an expansion of the rural network, they only have to decide to and then it would be done.

      I don’t feel strongly either way whether the governor should or shouldn’t. If he does, it would set a precedent for carbon-disincentives, and hopefully that would be sustained. If he doesn’t, we’re no worse off than we were last week and we’ll have those bike/ped/transit amenities. The big highways will be built in either case. Meanwhile if the initiative gets a lot of signatures it’ll get the Legislature’s attention that they should do something about carbon. If it actually passes, that’s great. If it fails, maybe a similar one will pass in a few years. Many initiatives require several tries and a shift in public attitudes before they pass, but the attempts themselves are one factor in shifting public attitudes.

    2. To be clear, I’m not referring to anything the legislature did this session. I’m making a more general point, that if the majority of Republicans and rural-county residents supported transit more, they would not have put Skagit Transit, Island Transit, and Whatcom Transit in this precarious position in the first place. They would have given them long-term stable funding earlier.

      “I know in 2008 Skagit did vote for a transit levy lift. Island Transit did in 2009.”

      That’s good to hear, and I didn’t see it before my second message.

      1. Thanks Mike. I just don’t think this “poison pill” has an upside that justifies the very real harm to vulnerable populations here – especially when other means to the same well-intended end exist.

    1. The usual comments about using passenger-miles as a denominator artificially favoring sprawl seem to apply here.

    2. It presumes light rail is powered by fossil fueled electricity. 99.7 percent of electricity in Washington state comes from renewable sources, hydro, wind, nuclear. So it is impossible for a fossil fuel burning vehicle to be more efficient than a light rail vehicle operated here.

      1. Yes, it’s a national study, and an old one at that, although I doubt the relationships between modes has changed much. Seattle (and Link) are nearly all renewable energy sources which is a great thing. On the flip side, Link carries less than 1% of all trips, so the overall reduction in CO2 is minuscule. All public transit is under 5% of all trips – again not a huge factor.

      2. Don’t forget to add trolleybuses to Link to get all electric-powered transit, though, and some other factor on top of that to account for hybrid buses. But, you’re right that it’d still be <5%.

      3. But it carries enough of a percentage of commuter trips that it makes a huge difference. And with the new additions, its impact will be even more significant. Reduced need to build more freeways, parking, and other car infrastructure.

    3. The “average vanpool” is suitable only for several people in one place commuting to a large employer in another place, all at the same time. It’s not suitable for shift work, non-work trips, small employers, or widely-scattered workers. Those are the other responsibilities of full-sized buses and light rail, and if they’re less efficient, that’s the way it has to be. The point is that they’re more efficient than SOVs, and provide mobility to those who can’t drive/don’t have a car/don’t want to drive. Also, a bus route has to have emptier runs at the beginning and end of the day in order to maximize ridership throughout the day, because people won’t take transit if they’re not sure they can take it home, and they may avoid the last run to make doubly sure there’s one after theirs so they don’t get stuck.

      1. The last time I checked, Metro led the nation in Vanpools (Kudos to the CTR group), but with the electronic age, smartphones, GPS and all I think we have barely tapped that market.
        Think Flex-Vanpool with prepaid Orca when hooking an extra van seat on your non-regular ride doesn’t work out.
        How many SOV’s leave Issaquah at about 7am each day, heading for SLU? Tap that market and the carbon reduction is 8 fold.

  14. Transportation Choices has something to say about all of this and the fact an avgeek paged them is almost irrelevant:

    Let us be clear, if the Governor chooses clean fuels, we would lose nearly $1 billion worth of multi-modal funding. Investments that are essential for our environment, economy and health.

    What’s at stake?
    If the low carbon fuels standard is enacted, we will lose funding for:

    Transit projects such as SWIFTII bus rapid transit in Everett and Snohomish County, expansion of Rapid Ride bus rapid transit to Burien and Delridge, and the Spokane Central City Line.
    Important bike and pedestrian investments like the Northgate pedestrian bridge, Shuster Parkway in Tacoma, and expansions of bike trails in Anacortes, Tumwater, and Yakima.
    The critical Commute Trip Reduction tax credit will be defunded, an award-winning program that helps keep thousands of cars off the road.
    Effective grant programs such as Safe Routes to School and Regional Mobility which fund much-needed bike, pedestrian and transit investments in communities around our state.
    We would lose projects that keep our children safe, our communities healthy, and our economy moving, while writing the Senate a blank-check.
    . . .
    This is a difficult situation, pitting against each other two important and interrelated goals. We believe there is an opportunity to do both without eliminating critical transit and multi-modal investments.

    Please email the Governor and urge him to find a solution that keeps these important multi-modal investments while working to create a path forward on clean fuels.

    Yup, that’s straight up sanity. Swift 2, county connectors, and so much more on the line.

  15. Setting aside money for just a moment, does the governor really want to be responsible when a child gets hit in an unsafe crosswalk that could have received Safe Walk to School funding?

    That’s the club he’s handing his opponents if he accepts the poison pill — “he’s buying a carbon tax with the blood of children.”

    Is he seriously that stupid?

    1. The worst part is, I keep investigating this “low carbon fuels standard” thing, and it doesn’t seem to be a proper carbon tax. I can’t quite figure out what the effect will be, but it looks like it would be fairly ineffective.

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