Walla Walla wind farm

photo by Umptanum / wikipedia

The Washington State Legislature opened the 2019 regular session Monday. Seven bills directed at dealing with greenhouse gas emissions had already been pre-filed, with most of them scheduled for hearings this week.

At the request of Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D – Seattle) introduced Senate Bill 5116, which would:

  • Require electric utilities to cease generation from coal-fired power plants by the end of 2025.
  • Require electric utilities to be carbon neutral by the end of 2029, but with allowances for various credits and offsets.
  • Require all retail electricity to be provided by non-emitting sources by the end of 2044.

There is a lot of devil in the details, but those are the overarching deliverables. With over half the Senate Democratic Caucus co-sponsoring the bill, it appears to be going places. Indeed, it is scheduled for a public hearing at 10 am today in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, & Technology.

House Bill 1110, by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D – Burien) would direct the Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program to limit the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. These limits are based on recommendations from the Department in 2016, as part of the process from the previous similar law passed in 2008. Several exceptions are enumerated, including exported fuels, fuels used by aircract, fuels used by vessels, fuels used by railroads, and the 2015 Transportation Revenue Package. The bill was heard in the House Committee on Environment & Energy Tuesday, and is scheduled for a committee vote next Thursday.

HB 1112, by Rep. Fitzgibbon, would set a schedule for quickly phasing out most commercial uses of hydrofluorocarbons.

HB 1113, by Rep. Vandana Slatter (D – Bellevue) would commit the state to achieving its share of the US’ commitment to greenhouse gas reductions under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, even though the US withdrew from the agreement in 2017. In particular, the bill would commit the state to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 19% below 1990 levels by 2025, 40% below 1990 levels by 2035, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

HB 1114, by Rep. Beth Doglio (D – Olympia) approaches the problem from a more intersectional angle of looking at ways to reduce food waste.

House Bills 1112, 1113, and 1114 are all scheduled for public hearings today at 8 am in the House Committee on Environment & Energy, and then committee votes next Thursday.

HB 1127, by Rep. Jeff Morris (D – Mount Vernon) would encourage electric utilities and public utility districts to study and consider participation in the electrification of transportation.

And finally, in his first act as a state legislator, Sen. Jesse Salomon (D – Shoreline) is sponsoring SB 5145, which would ban fracking.

But wait, there’s more! Three more greenhouse gas bills have been introduced this week so far.

HB 1257, by Rep. Doglio, and its companion bill, SB 5293, by Sen. Carlyle, both requested by the Governor, would provide incentives and regulations that are designed to encourage greater energy efficiency in all aspects of new and existing buildings, including building design, energy delivery, and utilization and operations. SB 5293 is scheduled for a hearing next Wednesday.

SB 5336, by Sen. Guy Palumbo (D – Maltby), and requested by the Governor, would update and extend some tax and fee breaks for electric vehicles.

30 Replies to “Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions on the Fast Track in Olympia”

      1. Thanks for the suggestion, les and Bernie.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_aircraft

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_human-powered_aircraft

        Could be considered points against Jay he didn’t even mention these as preferences that unfortunately had to be subordinated to his other scheduled duties as Governor.

        But nothing funny about Mr. Inslee’s leaving the whole area of public transit completely out of the initiative that’s today’s subject.

        With reserved lanes and signal-pre-empts, we’re talking about an essentially capital-neutral set of measures that can keep buses moving close to their optimal fuel efficiency.

        And attracting passengers whose cars’ emissions would otherwise count for measurable amounts of air pollution. Someone who’d slight this facet at this time, I’m not sure I’d want for Governor if I had a choice. Dog catcher’s no longer elected.

        Bringing me to a point I’m ready to have [OT’d] due to its belonging in a whole posting, finally come around max on topic. My own transit lifetime’s effort of anywhere near the required impact was spearheaded by a Republican.

        The man I mention has earned his peace and privacy. But reading today’s posting and comments, I think a lot more than transit depends on the rescue of his lifelong political party from the hands of the forces it defeated in the last Civil War.

        Having watched this tragedy throughout my adult life, I believe that as the Republican Party came under the control of the very Southern Democrats whose politics hailed from the ways and days of slavery, the Democratic Party at all levels lost a priceless mechanism of balance.

        Upon whose restoration literally everything depends. The Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery is a five minute walk from the Volunteer Park end of the Route 10. I can’t believe Washington State’s only remaining Lincoln Republicans now make that their sole mailing address.

        Mark Dublin

  1. “Require electric utilities to be carbon neutral by the end of 2029, but with allowances for various credits and offsets.”

    The focus on carbon may be what finally kills us. How does it help the fight against climate change if we are transitioning from coal based power with high carbon emissions to gas fired power with high methane emissions. The latest studies show that methane emissions, primarily associated to natural gas extraction, may actually be worse for climate change than coal.

    We need to be careful that we aren’t playing right into the natural gas lobby through policies targeting carbon reductions (which is backing many of the national “carbon” reduction goals). Any legislation needs to cover comprehensive reductions in all greenhouse gas.

    1. “How does it help the fight against climate change if we are transitioning from coal based power with high carbon emissions to gas fired power with high methane emissions.”

      Americans’ fundamental lack of scientific knowledge is what will ultimately kill us. “Gas-fired” = we burn the gas, with an output of carbon dioxide and water.

      Admittedly, if we are truly concerned with methane emissions – as we should be – the targets would be to reduce livestock production and leaks from natural gas production. If we eliminate the “carbon footprint” by eliminating fossil fuel production (which includes natural gas), you eliminate the second of those two items. No natural gas production means there are no production facilities to leak. Getting people to move towards a plant-based diet is a cultural change that simply can’t be done with the brute of the legislature.

      1. Only 9% of greenhouse gases come from agriculture. And the majority of those come directly from serving a “plant-based diet”

        “Specific activities that contribute to N2O emissions from agricultural lands include the application of synthetic and organic fertilizers, the growth of nitrogen-fixing crops, the drainage of organic soil, and irrigation practices. Management of agricultural soils accounts for over half of the emissions from the Agriculture economic sector.”

        Is the emittance difference from the conversion of plants to livestock energy really that big of a deal? Or is it just another false commentary by vegans and an attack on flatulence.

      2. Governments can’t mandate people ride bikes, but they can make it safer to do so. The same is true with plant-based diets.

        Seattle’s efforts to rate restaurants is somewhat useful in pointing out who is having trouble with health codes. However, when items you expect to be accidentally vegan turn out to be fried with the chicken (like the tortilla chips at one of the Mexican restaurants in my neighborhood), or even items you expect are there to provide an option to those following a plant-based diet, like falafel, that, when you ask whether it is vegan, you often get a blank stare or told, that, yes, it comes with salad fixings, we have a long way to go with the Basic Restaurant Food Safety Network.

        So, sourcing one’s own ingredients from a grocery store where most everything is labelled is the default. And that’s okay. There is probably less food wastage that way. I generally stick to Franz for bread because they label their vegan offerings. Killer Dave’s doesn’t, and doesn’t respond to my emails with questions, so I avoid that brand.

        We do know that vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise, but scientifically valid data on true numbers is hard to find. But we also know the US&A is far behind the rest of the world on that score.

        All that said, there is some argument in the scientific community about whether herds of megafauna are essential to preventing the desertification of grasslands.

        And humans, even vegans, emit carbon dioxide and methane. And there are billions of us. Raising the status of women, and its correlative effect on reducing human birthrates, is all well and nice, if the countries that have proclaimed themselves to have raised the status of women weren’t eating the most food and producing the most waste per capita.

      3. @les,

        The production impacts are less of an issue (unless the land is being deforested to turn it into single-story monoculture) than the transportation impacts. At least for Washington, the politicians seem to be sure that half the emissions are from transportation. (And yet, they all seem determined to stick to the 2015 Roads package that they never gave the voters a shot at turning down.)

        In that case, the most impactful food-purchasing decision is to buy locally. Thank you, PCC, for your locally-sourced portabellas that are now a staple of my diet!

        And since we now know we do just fine without the highway 99 connection in the middle of town, let’s convert the white elephant tunnel into a veloway bypass for downtown! If the state would agree to that, it would be a significant piece of the state’s contribution to emissions reductions. Oh, and keep the Battery Street Veloway open, too.

      4. The conversion loss for meat production is very real.

        That being said, vegetarianism carries a certain level of responsibility, as well. You need to be vigilant of things like food transport. Sorry. No fresh peaches or strawberries in February. Storage produce (apples?! yams!!!) in the winter, or things that are canned, jarred, or frozen, and what is in season through the rest of the year. Yep, I can remember the walls of glass jars in the basement at both Grandmas’ houses growing up, all stocked with semi-fresh preserves picked from the back yard and canned in the kitchen in August & September. (One Grandma hardly even had any grass. It was all fruit trees and raised planting beds. Grandkids were relegated to playing street hockey, riding bikes on the front sidewalk, or hunting for “potato bugs” to see who could find the most and put them in a jar.)

        Making locally-sourced, non-transported food widely available is something that has been lost on 99.9% of American consumers. Imagine the emissions cut if we stopped importing barges of produce from South America and Australia.

        Here’s another thing, every paycheck, when you pay Uncle Sam, you are directly subsidizing this destructive food production system through farm subsidies. My question is where are the farm subsidies for local, small, sustainable producers like (the now defunct) Terry’s Berries, which had a transport cost of near-zero, didn’t package anything in plastic, and raised eggs from hens that wandered the fields (no additional footprint and minimal feed) and allowed a neighboring farmer to keep bees on-site? That’s the kind of farmer we should be – and are not – subsidizing. Anybody remember victory gardens in WWII? For all of the single-family homes in the region, I’d additionally argue that the USDA should be subsidizing family backyard egg and vegetable production, if for no other reason, to encourage people to better utilize these weird plots of land that we all live on. Oh, but we’ve moved on to better things, like HOAs and manicured golf course grass.

      5. “Capturing CH4 from manure decomposition to produce renewable energy.” is becoming more and more common among cattle operations therefor decreasing the footprint of a meat diet even more.

      6. @Bob, 42% of 9% is 3%. Then factor in the replacement factor and this becomes 1%. Then throw in manure and methane management and you are at less than 1% of total emissions.
        Given my love for ice cream, “real butter”, yogart, cheese, hamburgers and etc I think this is not significant. When transportation and electricity total to 56% I am not got to sweat a little flatulence.

      7. This right here. NG Plants are extremely efficient at converting methane to carbon dioxide and water (this is different than power efficiencies, which are around 60% at load for NG).

        Thus, they are “cleaner” than a coal plant can ever be and produce less carbon dioxide than a coal plant for an equivalent power output and we would definitely be better off if all coal plants were magically converted to NG.

        But they are still a lesser evil in terms of carbon emissions and not a permanent solution.

      8. Michael Pollen and Mark Bittman, the food writers, have an interesting point that 75% of the edible products in supermarkets aren’t really food. but chemical syntheses that are more harmful than beneficial. Before the mid 20th century they required the word “Imitation” on their label, until the processed-food lobby got the government to repeal that requirement. Bittman sometimes calls them UFOs: Unidentified Foodlike Products. So you have breakfast cereals with as much sugar as candy, and all manner of things that lie to your taste and smell senses about what they are. This is doubtless a significant source of emissions, because of all the hidden ingredients and intrusive ingredients that don’t belong there. (Why is it very hard to find bread without sugar?)

      9. I saw a similar chart a few weeks ago, although it may have been energy inputs rather than carbon emissions, but the ratios were similar. I was stunned that beef was twice as energy-intensive as chicken and turkey.

    2. Since the Kyoto protocol has been signed, the one of the largest decrease in global CO2 emissions has been … american utilities switching from coal to natural gas.

      But Jay inslee doesn’t believe in NG as a bridge fuel, so whatever.

      1. It has nothing to do with what he believes in. It’s all about posturing to make his bid for the democratic nomination in 2022. For the most part we’ve had pretty good Governors in Washington. Even Dixie Lee Ray and Christine Gregoire. Inslee is an embarrassment.

        The US is literally burning money. A rational person who was genuinely interested in the financial well being of this State and reducing the impact of our energy footprint would be embracing natural gas infrastructure. A great start would be building LNG fueling facilities and switching over the WSF fleet. Expanding on that to the cruise ships and eventually container traffic would bring measurable benefits to the Puget Sound.

      2. We don’t have time for bridge fuel infrastructure production and use. We have 12 years to stop CO2 production, which (L)NG belches out plenty of (if less than coal). It’s not a useful source of energy unless we want to give up on trying to save ourselves from ourselves.

    3. Dude. Methane is carbon, it is CH4. Burn it and you get CO2 and water. The water component of the exhaust is why all the high efficiency natural gas appliances in your house have condensate pumps on them — because they are so efficient at extracting heat from the exhaust that the water condenses out and needs to be handled.

      A properly designed and maintained gas fired plant power plant shouldn’t emit any methane. Methane essentially is the fuel, CO2 is the exhaust. Methane could only be released by leaks and/or accidents.

      Yes, leaks and accidents happen. And, yes, it is a more powerful GHG than CO2. But the good thing about methane in the atmosphere is that it doesn’t last as long as CO2. Release some methane into the atmosphere and half of it will be gone in 7 to 10 years.

      You just can’t say that about CO2 in the atmosphere.

    4. Methane has carbon in it and produces carbon dioxide when burned. While the production of methane does leak some as mentioned by Lazarus, burning it in an environment of abundant oxygen (e.g. a well-designed, modern burner) yields twice as much water as it does carbon dioxide.

      CH4 + 2 O2 -> C02 + 2 H20

  2. I just can imagine a day without coffee mixed with some raw sugar, or not having bananas on my kitchen counter, or not enjoying an avocado in my salad, or…..etc, etc.

    The fact is, it is more economical to grow greater volumes where an item grows best. Washington apples grown on the cooler wind swept slopes of the Wenatchee or Chelan valleys always taste much better than those grown in the arid area of Wapato or other flat and dryer terrains. And the greater the volumes the cheaper the prices. I refuse to eat the apples from the trees I see on the fringes of the Burke Gilman. With orchardist, and farmers in general, constantly being educated on the virtues of things such as organics and better soil practices I don’t see how local produce can win out.

    1. You could choose not to eat tomatoes in winter, and to eat pineapples only occasionally. and to enjoy Washington’s bounty of apples, cherries, onions, kale, chard, blackberries, blueberries, and cranberries. I’ve had reservations about the “avocado in every smoothie and on every sandwich” that some people do, although I understand that vegans don’t have as many alternatives to it. But it’s worth at least considering that maybe our grandparents had more rational eating practices.

      Long-distance organics lose some of their benefit in travel, being picked prematurely, and monoculture. Yes, they were grown without harmful pesticides and that benefits some soil somewhere, but generally I’d rather get local conventional over long-distance organic.

    2. grown on the cooler wind swept slopes of the Wenatchee or Chelan valleys always taste much better… I refuse to eat the apples from the trees I see on the fringes of the Burke Gilman

      You’re right about the economics but the taste has to do with intense research and creation of hybrids (thanks WSU). Growing apples in Wenatchee is only possible because of the public works irrigation projects which have other environmental impacts. Western Washington heirloom apples are very tasty. But they don’t store as well, withstand the rigors of transport or satisfy the American sweet tooth. The way to have apple in the winter used to be to can apple sauce in the summer/fall. Or, hard cider :=

  3. This is still a transit blog, isn’t it? Then why is the Governor getting a complete “pass” this morning for his tomb-grade silence on measures like electric rail and reserved transit lanes?

    Or did I just forget to plug in the charger on my hearing aid last night- which come to think of it could possibly be powered by coal and nobody told me. Lot of that happening lately.

    Mark

    1. If @MayorJenny won’t make 3rd Ave transit-only 24/7 (or at least the blocks without any parking or loading) so it can be painted red and be obvious instead of a ticket trap, why would you expect more of Gov. Inslee?

      Hopefully, the Lege will give us a boost by ensuring Rep. Fitzgibbon’s bill requires a lane to be painted red before it can have ticketing cams. I don’t know why the Lege should take the mayor seriously until she takes transit lanes seriously.

      BTW, Which transit lanes on state highways is Inslee blocking?

      Also, he did sign the bill authorizing ST3. But he didn’t veto the Roads Package contained in the same bill.

      1. Didn’t say that Jay was actively blocking any pro-transit measure. He’s just leaving whole subject off the table.

        What would he have to lose by even mentioning efficient public transit as a counter to automobile related pollution.

        Also, don’t think it’s unreasonable for a governor to mention a state-wide measure like diamond lanes just to remind a Mayor that she maybe forgot the item locally.

        If memory serves, politically I think that used to be called “Leadership.” Meantime…if Elizabeth Warren will go with me on this one, can I vote for her instead?

        Mark

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