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Showing posts from May, 2009

Using State Agencies & Non-Profit Organizations to Drive Environmental Initiatives

Using State Agencies and Commissions to drive governmental mandated obligations on the reduction of greenhouse gas emission seems not to be exactly a first choice for the State of Washington, considering the tight budgetary constraints that are out there. The State’s Department of Ecology and Energy can design and implement strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the environment. It is also possible for the Washington State Department of Transportation to work hand in hand with the Federal Department of Transportation to explore pathways for reducing oil consumption and adopting other alternative fuel as ethanol, synthetic diesel fuel and hydrogen, to reduce transportation greenhouse gas emissions levels. What may however undermine the state’s agencies and commissions’ efforts in effecting reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, is not only the budget constraint, but the institutional factors that constraints state and federal agencies in achieving efficiency in executing tas…

Using our K-12 curriculum to drive global climatic and environmental stability

Progress toward global climatic stability requires reforms in public policy, classroom instruction and human endeavor. It requires management of environmental and industrial activities, holding down carbon emission levels in both the industrial and chemical complexes, making people accountable for their carbon footprint, helping people experience change in life activities that support growth of clean energy and teaching all these knowledge to our young ones. Achieving climatic stability requires solutions for greenhouse gas emissions and adoption of regional and national climatic initiative to help achieve substantial change in the current environmental status. To advance public support to help achieve collective habits in automobile driving, coal driven energy generation and other forms of pollution may require teaching, classroom teaching for all, especially the new generation of Americans who will take the mantle of leadership in the coming century.

To attain high-quality environmen…

Healthy imagination on the politics of greenhouse gas reduction in Washington State.

I am in the mood for a healthy imagination on the politics of greenhouse gas reduction, not the exact imagination contained in our governor's executive order which directs Washington State agencies to: 1) continue to work with six other Western states and four Canadian provinces in the Western Climate Initiative to develop a regional emissions reduction program; 2) work with the Obama Administration to help design a national program that is strong, and reflects state priorities; 3) develop emission reduction strategies and industry emissions benchmarks to make sure 2020 reduction targets are met; 4) work with TransAlta to reduce emissions from the company’s coal-fired power plant near Centralia by more than half; 4) ensure Washington has trees to capture harmful carbon, while creating financial incentives for the forestry industry; 5) work on low-carbon fuel standards or alternative requirements to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector; 6) join with other West Coa…

Climatic Change Day for Washington State: Driving environmental policy with Executive Orders?

Washington State Governor has chosen to resuscitate the ideas behind some environmental bills that died in both houses of legislature through executive orders. By signing the executive order on May 21, 2009, the governor has lifted the bar of negotiation on regional energy program and initiatives to a higher level. Although the governor may have meant well in furthering the course of climate change and managing greenhouse gas emissions, the use of executive order is tantamount to scuttling the will of the people, which had been reposed in their legislators. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for environmental initiatives that manages environmental pollution, create clean energy jobs, reduce global climate change and break American’s dependence on foreign oil, however, using an executive order to achieve this cause is un-democratic and that is what makes me cringe. Washingtonians respect and support the collective will of our representative legislators, even if it is at variance with our imm…

Looking for Solutions to Global Warming

There is the assumption that global warming is a problem created by environmentalist and that data collected on atmospheric climatic conditions do not give any credence to the problem of global warming. This assumption would have been plausible except for the fact that: many of our large cities are experiencing prolong erratic weather conditions, excessive heat wave in the summer months, more than mild winters, rising sea level that makes coastal cities vulnerable to the problem of flooding, unstable seas and river levels which have caused frequent floods in areas once considered floodless or with low incidence of flood and global warming pollution.

Politicians, academics and researchers understand the need to get started in tackling a problem as huge as global warming however, because there is not yet a consensus as to the gravity or definition of the problem, everyone continues to drag their feet. Solutions to climate change are within us, only if we can get everyone to talk to each …

Stemming Global Warming: the great modern debate

The concern over global warming has created opposing camps of debates regarding what is best to do for American Economy and people. The economist and climatologist have opposing view on one hand with respect to how best to curb carbon dioxide emission and hence global warming; on the other hand, chemists and environmentalist are having their opposing position on what the data is saying regarding global warming.

According to some economists, if the objective in resource use is to achieve economic efficiency, a carbon tax is probably the best solution to stemming global warming. It is essential to make industries and people take into account their behavior to pollute or not pollute, by evaluating the financial consequences of their behavior. The extent to which a carbon tax is able to impact behavior however, depends on the elasticity of demand and supply of a pollutant. If the demand elasticity to pollute reaches zero, a factor that is improbable, it may be possible to control carbon p…

TRIBUTE TO THE BEST OF AMERICANS ON THIS MEMORIAL DAY

TO THOSE MILITARY HEROES WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR US TO LIVE IN OUR CUL-DE-SAC, DRINK CHAMPAIGNE, DRIVE OUR CADILLACS, TALK BOASTFULLY AND BANKRUPT SOME OF THE GREATEST CORPORATIONS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH, OUR HEARTFELT THANK YOU.

TO THOSE MEN AND WOMEN WHO BELIEVE THAT OUR TRADITION OF LIBERTY, FREEDOM AND PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS WAS AS IMPORTANT AS THE UNSPENT LIVES AND TIMES OF THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO FOUGHT AND DIED FOR US OVER THE LAST TWO AND HALF CENTURIES, WE ARE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL. TO ALL AMERICANS DURING THESE TRYING ECONOMIC TIMES, LET US NOW TREAD CAUTIOUSLY, HUMBLED IN OUR THOUGHTS AND CREATIVE IN OUR EFFORTS TO MAKE THOSE STARS AND STRIPES SHINE ONCE AGAIN.

TO MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, LET US KEEP WORKING HARD, EXPLORING OPPORTUNITIES, SHARING OUR THOUGHTS AND KEEPING FAITH WITH THE FLAG AND FELLOW AMERICANS TO LEAVE THIS PLACE BETTER THAN WE MET IT.

Are the watershed programs and ecosystem-level plans sufficient to clean the Puget Sound Basin?

People are waiting to see the nature of watershed programs and ecosystem level plans that could help us clean the Puget Sound Basin. A Washington State inaugural watchdog council set as its agenda the provision of a blue print on watershed programs and ecosystem-level plans that would speed up the processes to the year 2020. Some of their initiatives had been incorporated into several other environmental, energy and green house bills that had been funneled through both houses of legislature in the current open session in Washington State. Pollution clean up in the marine waters of the Hood Canal, Whidbey island, Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, South Puget Sound and, North and South Central Puget Sound, had formed the basis of many of the council deliberations. The council had been both visionary and circumspect as regards how law makers treat their ideas and had made effort to present some recommendations that is flexible for adoption into bills on the floor of both houses. …

Investing in productive environmental legislation and the fear factor

In the Senate legislative debate on reducing green house gas emission, there were presumptions that companies will never consider moving into Washington State because of the potential of the bill restriction on greenhouse gas emission levels. Opponents did not envisage that other factors draw companies into a location, and that regulatory factors could actually be a plus, not a minus. The caps and tax program which allows companies to trade and sell credits for ability to pollute beyond the maximum allowable level could be positioned at a level that is considered a better opportunity cost than what obtains in other states. This therefore may actually help many companies move in and those already here, remain.

The current impact of a caps and tax program to limit greenhouse gas emission in some Northeastern states and in some European countries of the size of Washington State, have not driven many of the polluting firms away from their location. The fear tactic in the argument of the op…

Freeing us from that heavy Carbon-diet: energy generation without pollution

Opponents of the Clean Energy and Security Act have a lot on their mind today. Turning down Federal stimulus money designed to help reduce carbon emission level seems to be a ploy by some of them, to halt the engine of progress across the country. Their position is unenviable, considering the fact that they have to explain themselves out on what to do with millions of tons of pollutants pumped into the atmosphere everyday from the coal and petroleum industrial complexes in their various states.

The Legislation affectionately called the Waxman-Markey bill, making its way through the Federal House Energy and Commerce Committee, is obviously a nightmare for many opponents of the Clean Energy and Security Act. Many Coal producing States and heavy carbon emitting industrial complexes would love not to have this bill pass as it sets a new standard for them to comply with and creates a situation of accountability for the level of carbon emission in their various domains. What is probably obv…

Making a good argument for Global Warming: What the marketers already know!

Although the US Environmental Protection Agency have taken the lead to open up debates on global warming at two big cities across the country, the challenge of selling this idea to skeptics is still an uphill battle. Across the country, many city councils have voted in support of policy changes to recognize the possible impact of global warming on the atmospheric conditions in their cities, and some of them have been able to convince their state legislatures to find answers to this problem at the State level. The bodies of research evidence at many Universities and private research institutes across the world have provided us with volume of knowledge showing that global warming is not only affecting the world’s weather condition and activities on all continents, but also the health of humans and animals. Skeptics however still maintain that the idea of global warming having impact on human activities and health is a fluke. They challenge protagonists of the idea of global warming, to …

US Environmental Protection Agency Global Warming Conference in Seattle: the journey toward a zero carbon-emission economy.

As human activities increases in a carbon-based economy, there is a general likelihood of higher emission levels of carbon waste. Chemical and Petroleum plants have been known to emit higher levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases while processing their products. Being a carbon-dependent economy, it has been difficult to fight off many of the carbon waste emitting firms through regulations and enforcement of standards, because of the wealth and political influence of these firms. Today, the greenhouse effect of the higher emission levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other cell damaging gases have been well documented. Scientific studies have shown that when human and wildlife are exposed to high levels of carbon-based gases, there are the possibilities of damages to their physiology. Epidemiologic and comparative clinical studies conducted on impact of poisonous gas by many research labs, including the carbon-based gases, have provided clear evidence of detriment…

Green house gas standard, what a way to go!

With economic conditions in the nation unclear, the choice of a green house standard for automobile building is probably the boldest step taken by the Obama Administration. The Federal government is demonstrating that it can command respect from probably two unlikely friends: the environmentalist and automobile manufactures. Even with probably a declining industry, the automobile builders are supporting a new direction for their industry and American economy. Desired changes in how cars and trucks are built henceforth is coming from within the automobile industry, the State and Federal Governments. We now appreciate the effort of the State of California in striving to institute a higher standard for carbon emission reduction in trucks and cars built to run on their roads. Like in other progressive issues, the State of California, while not the most favorite state in the Union in terms of budget management, has made remarkable effort to lead the way in cutting down on carbon emission i…

Philosophizing About the Environment

The traditional approach to evaluating the impact of air pollution is taking a new dimension especially with the issue of environmental pollution and the notion that pollution from excessive consumption of natural resources is necessarily bad for the air we breath, water we drink and the environment we live in. If we are to insist on the notion that pollution is bad for the environment, we must infer consequentially that to pollute, is to be anti the environment; and hence, the total equilibrium of man to nature. There is however a school of thought, based on scientific findings and intellectual research: that man can co-exist in equilibrium with nature, if only he is more conscious of how he uses resources relative to other plant and animal specie. Co-existence is a term used here to recognize that man is not the only specie inhabiting this earth; and to a greater extent, man of all specie has the opportunity and ability to reflect on his action. Man has the privilege of instituting …

Staying Engaged with Capitalism and the Green Economy.

We come to the readers of this blog today with a sense of commitment to Capitalism and a Green Economy. In these times when it seems everyone you know is suffering from some form of financial handicap or job loss, we want to stay engaged with the American Public who love and cherish this land. We want to share our commitment and dedication to a Green Economy for America, despite the fact that our most cherished and proudest of all industry, the automobile industry, is facing its greatest challenge at anytime in the history of this American Enterprise. Our commitment in this realm of duty to some is heresy, because they cannot envisage profit making from automobile building enterprises without pollution or damage to the environment. Our purpose is to reassure these people that we are as committed to the notion of: In God we trust, all and everyone, must pay in Dollars! We have reflected on many of our business and human practices, even with the declining automobile industry, and we are…

Environmental Risk Assessment in the Age of Storm water run-off Pollution

The variable health condition of some of the rivers and surface waters in Washington State has brought us to discussion of risk assessments in managing environmental resources like surface water, rivers and ocean. Many of the havocs done to our ground water in the Puget Sound region, especially in Elliot Bay, has made scientist skirmish and launch effort at evaluating the impact of environmental stressors, including chemical pollutants, industrial run-offs, invasive grass species and climate change on the quality of fresh water in the Puget Sound basin. Just like scientists, residents are asking pointed questions like: 1) to what extent are chemical pollutants poising the fishes and wild life in our rivers; 2) to what extent are agricultural fertilizers and insecticides polluting our ground water; and 3) what is the risk involved in the introduction of non-indigenous wildlife species to Washington Rivers? These questions to a greater extent are measurable; especially when the issue of…

Washington Aquatic Nuisance Management Plan: How far have we come since 2001?

Working my tail off with a group of community and neighborhood clean-up crews last month exposed me to some very interesting observations: 1) that with the warmer weather our neighborhood river has a lot of exotic weed already spreading faster than we can say jack rabbit; 2) that the Aquatic Nuisance Management Plan instituted by the Washington Department of Fishery and Wildlife in 2001 will need some re-evaluation; and 3) that a much aggressive effort to detect, monitor, control and probably eradicate aquatic nuisance species in our neighborhood rivers, is long overdue. With the growing acceptance of the fact that climatic change may actually cause rapid changes in coastal and estuarine ecosystem, it is now possible to appreciate the fact that warmer water temperatures and increased storm water runoffs can help aquatic nuisance species grow beyond coastal ecosystem, including many of our smaller rivers. The reality of many ecological observations in the Puget Sound Region is that wa…

Moving toward a better pollutant discharge limitation: Revisiting that Exemption in HB 2053.

HB2053 wants to exempt certain cities in Washington State from pollutant discharge limitation into the municipal storm drainage system because of the unique nature of the soil and topography of the cities. According to its proponents, certain Washington cities should not be required to be covered under the national pollutant discharge elimination program, with respect to the storm sewer systems permit program. The dark side of this argument is that legislatures proposing the argument, often wants to add exemption to solution of a problem that potentially can protect these cities from unintended consequence of pollutant discharge into the environment. Every city has either a topography or soil problem that can circumstantially allow them to be exempted from this national standard. Unless a city is sitting on a perfectly flat terrain, where the composition of the soil and topography is perfect, the pollutant discharge limitation paradigm will always apply. Even at that, no one area in t…

A Second Look at ES2SSB 5854

Given tightened budgets, government building managers are already taking another look at cost-effective ways of complying with the provisions of Public law ES2SSB. To make the most of the law, property managers are reviewing architectural, engineering, security and technical stability of most buildings under their care. They are seeking cooperation and team work to help meet the provisions of the law. This is hardly a surprise, considering the magnitude of effort required to meet the provisions of the law.

ES2SSB 5854 goes into law in January 2010, seeking to reduce climate pollution in built environment. As provided, qualifying utilities shall upload the energy consumption data from owners of building or property managers to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s energy star portfolio manager. The choice of method used to report energy use data must maximize efficiency and minimize overall program cost. Utilities who have the obligation to report the energy use data to the US Enviro…

Solar Energy Expansion through Sales Tax and Use Exemption Incentives: the way forward?

The passing of the renewable energy, sales tax and use exemption bill of 2009, ESSB 6170, is a thrill for many of us who were worried about the progress of solar energy development in Washington State. The bill creates a cost-recovery incentive for private individual and business investors in solar energy development and expansion. In addition, it offers communities investing in electricity generation from solar technology some impetus to grow from the year 2015 to 2020. This is hardly a small accomplishment considering that the current legislature which turned down much well meaning legislation with respect to clean energy generation and clean water, approved sales tax incentives for individuals investing in solar energy generation.

One of the benefits of this bill is the possibility for an expanded innovation in the solar energy industry. From now on till the expiration of the sales tax and use exemption bill, solar powered generation by community level utility enterprises will be co…

Ensuring success in Washington State Legislative Process: The dilemma of Environmental issues.

Why did E2SSB 5735 die in Senate on the last day of the session? I was thinking about this question after my earlier blog this morning. What I concluded (after 5 seconds and no coffee) was that regardless of my position on the climate bill, we need to build a better mousetrap in terms of determining the position of our legislatures or ensuring that a bill of interest passes. We could just look at the trend of the legislatures past voting on similar bills of the nature in consideration. If the legislature have been pro a similar issue, may be they would support the bill, if not, maybe not. The problem is we cannot be completely certain if this estimation would be true. Other things we could do as concerned citizens, is to heck, send as many emails, telephone calls/messages, snail mails, or what have you until something is done to ensure the success of your concern on the legislative floors.

Our tendency is to become dejected when critical issues of concern in form of a bill are sidetr…

Why did E2SSB 5735 Die in the Washington Senate?

You wonder why bills fail on the last day of the house’s or senate’s session. This is one area that many interested folks on bills ponder over when it comes to ensuring that our legislatures bid our calls. The failure of the Climate bill (E2SSB) on the last day of the Washington State Senate Session, a bill designed to help reduce pollution from the state’s one coal plant and expand transportation, continues to be nagging for many people. As you can imagine, both sides of the aisle probably did their best to advance their positions regarding the bill. However, when elected officers use their office to maneuver the system, you cannot but wonder. Did Noble men and women in Washington State Senate circumvent the system to ensure that their position is never known, or to kill the spirits of a lot of hopefuls? Your guess is as good as mine.

As you can imagine, the death of the Climate bill in the Senate inspired spirited conversations at many dinner tables. As my daughter puts it succinctl…

Unleashing Waves of Innovation: Transforming Washington Rivers & Estuaries for the Future

Arguments abound on saving Washington Rivers. There are those who believe that the greatest pollution threat to our rivers stems from urban sprawl and overdevelopments, arguing that as new houses are put in place and commercial development proceeds, millions of gallons of contaminant storm water are emptied into the rivers and bays, polluting sources of drinking water for many Washingtonians. One recently in a documentary on Frontline, describes Seattle’s Elliot Bay as a brown, noxious soup of nastiness that is unbelievable. That is hardly a complement to residents adjacent to the Bay.

Washington Legislatures may have offered an avenue to unleash possible waves of innovation in the cleaning up of Washington Rivers though, through the advancement of Senate Bill (SB) 5334. You wonder what does this bill has for cleaning Washington Rivers and Estuaries. The simple answer is that for the first time, we see the concept of borrowing (investment in environmental protection priority through cr…

Cleaning up Washington Rivers and Estuaries in the Coming Decade

Investing in storm water runoff clean up is already steering some uneasiness among petroleum and oil producing firms, if not revolt. Socially responsive critics who are very concerned about the environment, are looking not only on moving bills through the Washington State House and Senate to help change the current state of unending pollution by some of these industries, but others that may also be contributing to industrial waste dislodge to Washington State Rivers.
The options contained in the clean water act do not seem palatable to the petroleum and oil executives. Frankly, as one of the executives puts it, this is just another additional cost of doing business that will be passed on to consumers/taxpayers. Did I hear another sales tax? You never can tell. However, I hope leaders of these industries, who are looking at the option of defraying the liability for paying into the clean-up fund to the consumers, appreciate the fact that, many if not all Washington Tax payers, are alrea…

Of Stern, the Green Bonds and the politics of climatic Change in Washington State.

I listen to the discussion of climate change by Nicholas Stern the other night, thought deeply about how disagreeable we economists are on issues of discounting future stream of benefits of a particular investment and came to the conclusion that, we can only work within our expectation of the future, no one can actually know how investment in curbing climatic change will precisely turn out.

Likewise, I read part of the transcripts of HB 2334 and the claim that a $3 billion investment in capital improvement projects would lead us to increased health, safety and energy efficiency in public facilities. As convincing as this argument seem, the reality of Nicholas Stern discounting of future returns to investment of this nature, makes the justification of substantial future returns of what I would now call Green Bonds, questionable. I love us to be able to correct climate change. I strongly support initiatives that help correct environmental pollution or climate change, but I shy away from…

An interesting perspective on the forthcoming Green Industry?

A few years ago, I published an article in the International Journal of Environment Studies on environmental pollution and the oil industry neglect. The burning issue on my mind at the time was why were oil companies drilling in the coastal areas not being held responsible for increasing pollution from off-shore oil drilling activities. The aim of the article was to unsettle the position of the oil companies that they were not totally responsible for the deplorable state of the aquatic and coastal areas where they drilled oil. Many in the oil drilling business were aware that there were over 300 oil spills in a day in the US and Canada at the time. I sought to bring the oil companies to an unfamiliar way of thinking in the industry: the need to be a responsible corporate citizen and neighbor.

Many surveys completed by economists, petroleum engineers, scientists, and environmental protection agencies indicated that majority of the pollution experienced in downstream oil drilling were f…