Monday, June 29, 2009

Washington Politics: Who is the greenest Candidate for King County Executive?

You have heard this before: there are no victimless crimes in politics. That is of course, if you have been listening to Bill Moyers on PBS radio or television. This is once again true if you have been inquisitive and talking to people in the know, regarding who is likely to replace Ron Sims as the King County Executive. For those of us who are not familiar with Washington State politics, let me bring you up to speed: The biggest county in terms of population and commerce in Washington State lost its county executive to the Obama’s administration. Rom Sims, the former chief executive of the county is now an Obama’s executive. His temporary replacement, who had worked in close proximity with Mr. Sims, is Ballard resident Kurt Triplett, who had worked with the county for 17 years. Immediately Mr. Triplett indicated in his acceptance of his interim position with the words: “The reason why I was chosen was I’ve been with King County in various levels of senior management,” the politics of permanent replacement for Sims began.

Debates were rife as regards why Mr. Triplett must never be a member of the class of people who should replace Sims permanently. Sims himself put the ‘buhaha’ to rest when he indicated in his outgoing or resignation speech that the caretaker or interim County Executive, should not be someone who is planning to run for the office permanently, as this will give him an unfair advantage. The statement irked many of his council members who had be canvassing behind to be the seat warmer, and probably gain an undue advantage when the election for the office comes to play. Here ends the up-to-date events.

Now to the issue proper, who is likely to replace Mr. Sims permanently? There are arrays of qualified persons in and out of the current council members. I got to meet one of them on TV the other day: Ross Hunter, who had in the past worked for Microsoft for 17 years, holds a Bachelor’s from Yale University and represents the Bellevue district in the State Legislature. According to Mr. Hunter in his interview with KING-TV, he will like to provide a functioning transit system for the county; he will advance a more compact transit system and wants to pursue a clean environment agenda. He understands the budget problem, which most of us in the county are worried about; we will all like to know when we are going to pay attention to the gorilla in house. The county is about 100 million dollars in the red. He will also like to work with other cities and county to solve the issue of annexation of unincorporated areas around the county. He wants to increase the county’s revenue base and guess what? Increase salaries of King County employees.

Much as I admire his enthusiasm, I wonder about his ability to make good judgment about our budget items. Here is an incoming executive, who is facing a gapping hole in the county pocket, proposing to increase county employees’ salaries. He is either disingenuous or playing dumb about the gravity of the county deficit. A county of about 2 million people, carrying a debt in excess of 100 million dollars, is not one that should be contemplating increasing salaries. The whole state and county economy is not doing well, and the county had just put in place a mandatory unpaid vacation days for its employees, and here comes a replacement to the county executive’s position, brandishing a golden stick of increasing salaries of county workers. This hardly sounds like someone who understands the implication of a budget shortfall in the order of challenges facing the county. The county had also cut several critical county services, including public health, safety and human services in light of the budget shortfall. This county does not seem like a financially healthy baby. Hello? The interesting thing as well is that those (Sims & Triplett) Mr. Hunter is trying to replace probably do not understand the same budgetary implication, considering their recent pronouncements. The interim County Executive recently indicated that, the challenge of the transit system is that everyone needs more not less. How the county is going to be able to maintain its triple A’s rating while committing to project(s) at a scale that empties its pocket, is still the catch 21 question. While I am not going to flog this issue any harder now, I am a little bit skeptical of the judgment of this potential Sim’s replacement. I appreciate and welcome his green politics, but I am weary of his sense of appreciation of the challenge the county is facing.

How is the new county executive going to deal with the traffic issue, when residents are already complaining about the burden of traffic congestion? Mr. Hunter was not really explicit on this question. Can we really continue to dumb down to use public transportation when possible, pay the real costs of driving on our roads and make changes in our lives that will cut down on the need to use our cars, as are pursued by the current king county executive? What exactly is Mr. Hunter’s solution to the traffic issue? Current agenda by the outgoing King County executive’s administration seems a likeable green solution to the traffic congestion problem, but many of us are not convinced, we want bolder initiatives that will help cut down on environmental pollution from automobile fumes and rebuild back the budget short-fall in King County.

I will come back in my future blogs to debate other candidates as they show up in the public arena. This will give every candidate an equal opportunity of being assessed as a replacement candidate for the King County Executive position.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The challenge ahead: Passing the Waxman-Markey Bill in the U.S. Senate

Passing the Clean Energy and Security legislation of 2009, the Waxman-Markey bill, may be a major turn around when it comes up for voting before U.S. Senate. If the closeness of the voting result in the U.S. House on the bill is any indication, one can safely assume that we have a clear challenge ahead of us. For those of us who are perturbed by the marginal result in the house, 219-212 vote, I’ll say, hold your breath, we have not lost it yet. We have tried to convince the world that we need this bill, it is important that we remain optimistic as the debate begins in the senate. We should never lose faith in our level of support; neither should we take anything for granted. We need 60 votes in the senate and we will fight for every one of them. We need support for a bill that will set our nation and people apart for the better, and this bill is the most likely candidate to change the way we treat our environment and ourselves. Waxman-Markey is set to change federal laws on energy, pollution and global warming. It is a bill designed to help curb the heat-trapping gases that contribute to climate change around the world.

A bill expected to help combat global warming and American dependence on fossil fuel, it is anticipated to bring about expansion of new technologies, one of which is the green technology. A bill anticipated to help advance the cap and trade system in the carbon market, a market hitherto considered rudimentary. It is anticipated that the bill will help scientists; engineers, environmentalist, and policy makers address issues of global warming, green technology, wind technology, wave power, coal plants maintenance and carbon sequestration. How we go ahead in making progress in expanding the new green technology depends on the upcoming senate debates and voting on the Waxman-Markey bill.

In light of our last appeal to the House of Representatives, we will like to implore the senators to appreciate the potential they can make in doing the following for Americans:
• Make America a leader in energy efficiency and technology;
• Begin America in a historic direction to change the way we look at the forces of human behavior that affect climate change and energy conservation; and,
• Establish renewable energy standards that allow electricity generation from renewable sources such as windmills, solar panels and geothermal technology, if only to 12% level.
Expectations are promises of what is anticipated. Whatever happens to the bill on the US senate floor, our progress so far in the house, would be counted as a clear gain on our anticipation, considering the challenge that we have faced so far in making sure that America makes progress on its climate change problem.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Seeking Congressional Support for Clean Energy Legislation: Waxman-Markey

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Congressman:

As you debate the climate change initiative and vote on the Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey) today in that hallowed building of all, I, like most Americans will want you to consider the following 10 observations by experts, federal agencies, politicians and ordinary people:
• The energy efficiency provision of Waxman-Markey could save households approximately $1050 by 2020 and $4400 by 2030, according to an updated analysis by the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE);
• The legislation is expected to create 305,000 jobs and through the energy efficiency that could occur will help generate 770,000 jobs by the year 2030;
• The legislation will help cut down on green-house emissions, by gradually capping its emission level at seventeen percent below the 2005 level by 2020;
• The nonpartisan Congressional Budget office estimated that households may save $175 annually by 2020 and government sales of auction permits will help offset clean-energy research costs associated with the legislation;
• The legislation will help America cut down on carbon pollution and create economy-wide cap and trade corrective initiatives that will help America advance its national objectives;
• The bill will not only help in cutting down carbon pollution, introduce building construction with 30% more energy use efficiency by 2012 and 50% by 2016, but also create an economy-wide cap and trade system that reverts current pollution level;
• Although the Environmental Protection Agency estimated the bill will cost an average household a $100 a year, it has the potential of creating new innovations, revolutionizing engineering, manufacturing and energy industries with an added advantage of jobs creation for millions of Americans;
• The bill is a rule of the road legislation that helps America rebuild its tattering economy, create cost and energy saving technologies and put a price on carbon emission;
• The bill starts to guarantee that by 2020, 20 percent of electricity generated in the United States will come from renewable energy sources; and,
• The current compromises that has been made on the bill as it passed through the legislative process, has produced a legislation that not only put a cap on carbon emission but also introduces a national renewable electricity standard and energy efficiency requirements.

If the nation is to remain a world leader in fighting global warming, we will have to cut down on our green-house gas emission, hence contribution to global warming; and, this bill offers the nation the opportunity to do this and much more. The hysterical notion that the bill forces agriculture and other productive sectors of the nation’s economy into a severe competitive disadvantage with trading partners as China, India and Europe, is all a ruse. Many of the economies cited as being advantaged by our introduction of Waxman-Markey are battling more economic disequilibrium than we are; and, certainly do not gain any competitive advantage over America with our introduction of this bill.

Please vote to pass this bill because it matters very much to our energy independence from the tyranny of oil producing states that do not like America and our way of life.


Christopher Adekoya.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Assessing Washington State legislative debates: A look at the Climate Change leadership debate

Connecting to the House of Representative debates on Climate change leadership in Olympia, Washington State, during the wee hours of the night, could be very fascinating. While the average citizen attempts to connect to the legislators by watching their debates on TVW, more ardent believers call for transcripts on debate(s) before the house. Which ever way you get your legislative deliberations or fix, you are not very far from the reality of what goes on in the halls of power. Some of the debates you hear are so flabbergasting that you wonder why on earth a legislator advances a bill or proposed an amendment that seems very far in content and spirit of the actual bill. One of such experience was my incursion into listening to debates on several amendments to ESSB 5560, Clean Energy Initiative as late as 11:06 (Pacific Standard Time - PST), on April 16, 2009.

During the debates that led to the full house consideration of the bill, amendments were raised by legislators that seem, at best slightly related to the initial bill, and at worst, far from the spirit and content of the initial bill at first or second reading. The three amendments raised during the night’s debate included amendments 759, 729 and 715. While only one of these three amendments was approved, results of rejection of the remaining two by voice voting remained puzzling. One fails to appreciate the fact that not all the three proposed amendments went through the necessary litmus test of approval or rejection, in terms of voting. As feverish as the debates were, with comments like: “ we are all looking for energy efficiency and energy cleanliness, but we should rather be considering item as the menace caused by small engine pollutions/polluters”; “there is need to be flexible when considering pollution activities of residents of rural areas as against those in urban settings”; When talking about climate change, we need to fix the problem on the ground rather studying data”; We must be leaders rather than followers when it comes to climate change”; “If we have in place good forest management practices, we will be able cut down on the carbon dioxide pollution”; and Forest management issues impact the rate of forest fires, vis-à-vis carbon monoxide poisoning of the air. One would have appreciated the rejection or acceptance of any of the amendment by the same voting style. Voice voting as a way of determining consensus on an amendment or complete bill, is not the same as a roll call. The resemblance of a thing is not the thing itself, so goes the saying.

While due parliamentary procedure was followed during the debates of each amendment, the same cannot be offered on the voting style for acceptance or rejection of the amendment(s) to the bill. The speaker should have attempted to equalize the criteria for voting for all three amendments. The legislators themselves may have required it, or in some circumstances, should have weighed the support or dissension from the amendment by evaluating the parliamentary procedure used to articulate voting on the bill, hence subsequent rejection or amendment to the bill. As we assess the parliamentary process for evaluating the recommendations on the climate change initiative, one is apt to believe that the use of voice voting rather than roll call for consideration of the amendment(s), actually abridged the parliamentary process and jeopardize the credibility of the results of the voting. For now, I will like to believe that this is a problem of fatigue, an exception not the rule: the debate was being held at night, about 11:06 PM, when all souls and body were tired out. Sufficient unto the day, time to rest, so says the Psalmist.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Somewhere in the horizon is a health care system of the people, by the people and for the People.

An annonymous writer once said: “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” In the spirit of this annonymous saying the greatest American President ever known, whom our current President touts as a role model, invested huge govenment expenditure to improve bridges, railroads, canals, college education and the lots of ordinary workers. I believe that President Lincoln, if confronted with the current Health Care System in his time, would have done the same, invested the state’s money, time and wisdom in seeing that ordinary Americans get a shot at the type of health care system that does not bankrupt them or their enterprises. Like a resourceful leader, Lincoln kept his eyes on the sparrow believing in a conviction that a good government must be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, including my friends of the skid rows in Los Angeles.

The answer to the question of whether President Obama should spend some of our tax income in restructuring our healthcare system would not have been complicated if we see health care for Americans as a matter of rights rather than priviledge. The question that surfaced again and again with Lincoln’s proclaimation is that the purpose of government is to attend to the welfare of the citizens. If this identification is true, President Obama must hold this to be self-evident that as in the reform of American Education System through the introduction of the land-grant University System, a concept percieved as radical in college education during Lincoln's years, the reform of our healthcare system is imperative, if we are to meet the needs of the people.This notion, which is percieved as radical at this time of economic depression, can only be construed as good governance. If Obama's administration is able to guide us through the rough waters of criticism to achieving affordable healthcare for Americans, he would have written his name in the annals of political reform and democratic excellence. Quality and affordable health care services must not remain the prerogative of the rich and privileged. The people, ordinary workers, whom President Lincoln was addressing in his pedigree are facing once again a challenge that requires a Messiah like him, to lead us out of the wilderness of deprivation of insurance companies who will like to continue to amass wealth from their annihilating insurance premiums; and, medical doctors who will like to continue to bill us for endless and unnecessary lab tests and medical procedures.

In the spirit of Lincoln assertion of what good government is, Americans require an healthcare system of the people, by the people and for the people. If our health care system is of the people, it will respond to our flexible healthcare needs. It will allow the people to recieve medical care from any provider of their choice, it will give them the freedom to carry their healthcare benefits when changing jobs, it will not allow the people to remain at the mercy of gluttonous insurance companies who will like to amass profits at the expense of the welfare of the people. Finally, if the healthcare system is for the people, it will attend to their immediate and long-term medical care needs, whether at a general practitioner’s clinic or at a specialist hospital. The system will not restrict treatment to the citizens because of pre-existing conditions or because the HMO has not given prior approval for treatment. The President must continue to see the necessary reform in our broken health care system as an obligation to good governance.

I will like to change the way people, especially critical Republicans, see the current President's effort to reform our health care system? Can you people please work with me?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Clarion Call to the faithfuls in support of reform in American Healthcare System

Public health insurance options that saves citizens money is what the Obama administration is shooting for, so goes the advert to drum up support for the health care reform initiative before lawmakers. Whether the Republican Party will allow him to do just that, is still subject to debate in light of the growing budget deficit. Many congressmen, who have waited several years to see reform in the health care system, are complaining that the brutal tactics being employed by opponents of the bill may still allow some citizens to remain uninsured, despite an extension of some reform in current healthcare packages that may make the complete overhaul, a little less challenging.

Opponents are already indicating that Obama has chosen the ‘borrow and spend’ strategy to advance the national health care reform. The probable One trillion dollars price tag associated with the reform by the Congressional Budget Office has not helped either. The nonperforming economy helps complicate issues further. With the level of unemployment and government deficit skyrocketing because of the added burden of fighting unnecessary and unwholesome wars, the associated trepidation of some law makers whom we could have counted on for wholesome support, and the political theatrics of republican lobbyists, all these are making the journey to the promised land, very daunting; and, escalating the fear of not being able to accomplish this essential and necessary strategic reform to the American health care system by the administration, on time.

As FDR once said, what we need to fear is fear itself. We must not be deterred or discouraged by the opposition to the bill working its way through the congressional process. We must expect some trepidation even among loyal democratic law makers. Further, we must not take lightly the criticism from much opposition out of fear of the unknown. We must come to expect to some degree resistance even from our progressive lawmakers as we make the good faith effort to reform the dilapidated American Healthcare system.

As we advance to redefine the structure of the healthcare system to accommodate many more of our citizens, we must see this effort as a duty to our nation and not to any special interest group. We cannot allow the nay Sayers to get us off the tracks of a balanced, durable and responsive law to the millions of yearning Americans who are holding on to the thread of hope in anticipation of an inclusive healthcare system that delivers appropriately priced healthcare service and finds the associated means to pay for it without getting us bankrupt.

Today, we have chosen to do what is essential not only for the people of America, but for many entrepreneurs who continue to complain that the rising cost of healthcare and the employer’s portion of providing health care insurance to many employees is eating dip into their profit; and for this reason, many employers have remained token healthcare provider to many of their staff, whom they understand, are probably not in the best position to take advantage of employer’s supplemented healthcare coverage because of the higher than usual employee’s co-pay. Even an effort to describe the current dispensation on the ground is very discouraging and tiring!

What do you think? Give me a feedback, people.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wither to: An Inclusive National Comprehensive Health Reform?

The intense level of debate in the congress with respect to a national comprehensive health reform was made possible by some elements of our democracy that make it imperative that issues are given first, second, third and probably many more looks before we reach a consensus. By the beginning of the century, congress had invented and perfected legislative processes, which projected a bill from the committee level deliberations, to first, second and probably third readings in the house; to fevering debates on house and senate floors; to the merging of preferences between voted agreement from the floor of the house to that of the consensus in senate; before a final accord is reached on a bill that is forwarded to the desk of the President to be signed into the law of the land. This arduous process looks like a long, challenging and sometimes frustrating approach to making a law. It is even more crushing or breathtaking, when the bill is a comprehensive health reform in the age of underperforming economy. The Obama Administration wants an open, inclusive, and transparent process where all ideas are encouraged and all parties work together to find a solution to the health care crisis.

Some of us are no doubt uncomfortable with the long democratic debate process for an issue as important as health care reform, while others are just right with the process. The use of filibuster to kill or delay a bill from passing on either floors of the congress has been known to give stomach ulcer to sponsors during the debates of the bill. Now, you understand why supporters of a bill as comprehensive health care reform, are apprehensive about it passing. No matter the frustration this time around though, we must not resort to sometimes unsavory tactics to get the bill passed. Here lies the beauty of patience. You all have to cultivate the noble quality of having patience when it comes to a debate on a national comprehensive health reform. We must not use infuriating language in our debates or resort to crafty tactics in railroading our opponents, or in challenging unwanted amendments to the bill that will come anyway. As they say, patience is a virtue that only a few disciplined souls can boast of in these days and time.

The Democratic Party and our leader want a comprehensive health reform that: 1) reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government; 2) protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health costs; 3) Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans; 4) Invest in prevention and wellness; 5) improve patient safety and quality of care; 6) assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans; 7) maintain coverage when Americans change or lose their jobs; and 9) end barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical condition. I wish I could find wisdom at this time to explain point by point what President Obama is trying to accomplish with the comprehensive health reform initiative. However, wisdom is very elusive, it comes only slowly and painfully, and it requires a lot of reflection to be able to address the wish list of the democrats on health reform. The following are probably the parameters from where the President’s point men and women are contemplating a comprehensive health reform: a) Just as we have attempted to protect the vulnerable children among us with the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), it is essential that we assist those adults that are about to fall through the crack because of lack of health insurance and current restrictions on portable health insurance system; b) How to create an inclusive atmosphere for stakeholders, congress, doctors and hospitals, businesses and unions, who are sometimes holding diverge views on what constitute health reform, to work together in putting in place a more responsive health law.

How do we go around the machination of congressmen who will like to add amendments to this bill when it is about to pass? Would we suffer the maneuvering tactics of some super Congressmen who serve the interest of the corporations when it comes to the Comprehensive Health Reform as was found with the case of Big Pharmaceutical Companies on the issue of Medicare prescription drug coverage? How do we enact a comprehensive health care reform without a bloody fight which may hamper cooperation on other bills in the workings? With close to a monopoly of power by the Democratic Party this time around, can we achieve this initiative that once failed under the last Democratic Party Governance? What exactly were the pitfalls of the last effort under President Clinton? How can we minimize the influence of the K Street buddies, yes the lobbying firms, when it comes to this very august bill? How do we prevent money from interfering in a good did: helping more Americans secure portable health care coverage at a humane and bearable cost? How do we play by the rule of democracy rather than the interest of a small group of lobbyist who are often bent on making their dreams come through rather than those of the masses? Can we protect the well being of all Americans through the health care reform and is this a morally right thing to do in this challenging economic climate? Answers to all these questions will help us determine if we will be able to get it done this second time around.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Delivering Voting Success for the Clean Energy & Security Act of 2009: the way forward.

Going forward, supporters of Waxman-Markey bill must learn to manage both the transactions (operational influence in peddling a bill through the committee deliberations stages to the House and Senate debate floors) with transformation (changing the way opponents perceive the goal of the bill), for there to be widespread support for the bill at the stage of final voting. In getting the bill passed, there is a need for operational influence that is dynamic, not changing the content of the message but addressing the concerns of potential critics and making sure that concerns are immediately and effectively countered: point for point. This proactive approach requires constant reflection(s) as we debate the merits of the bill. The approach to the debates on the floors of both houses must be peppered with communication effectiveness and efficiency, while staying grounded with the spirit of the content of the bill and the ethos of democratic values. We must understand that nothing can be achieved on the Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, through unnecessary bickering on both house floors. What is needed is leadership and strategic influence that transforms the position of our opponents to true believers, who will in turn influence others to be more receptive of the contents of the bill.

Further, we must tout our leadership and strategic influence, through a process of micro and mega influence in sub-debates that are often going around in the offices of congresswomen and men, outside the open floor debates. We will do this by aligning our message on the bill with the goal, objectives, and the spirit of other bills under construction in various staff offices of congressmen and women. We must listen to opponents’ opinions at each stage of the floor debates on the bill and attempt to integrate some of their preferences into the reworking of the bill without damaging the real message (goals and objectives) of the Waxman-Markey bill. Just as current committee deliberations had gone through a bull work of criticism, we must move our support of the bill with deliberate and innovative ideas that build ultimate support and consensus from a greater chunk of the voting members on the floors of both houses. We must work to cultivate support from voting members attuned and sometimes weary of our position, to help them gravitate towards the success of the bill at voting time. We must constantly perceive our opponents as people that love to work with us but want a reason to. Our leadership and strategy of communicating the benefits of the Clean Energy and Security Act must always remain positive to help bring critics around. In all our transaction and efforts to garner support for the bill, we must remain honest, always ready to deliver real value to our constituent and the nation.

Finally, although we do not know what the future holds, we obviously understand the need to manage our environment, such that industries pollute less, the air we breathe becomes cleaner and the water we drink, remain precinct. We appreciate the fact that factories must remain profitable in the process of manufacturing items for the country and making their tax bill that supports the whole economy. Yet, the paradoxes of producing goods and services while remaining ‘green’ are what have brought us to this bill. We therefore must call for support of the bill from a more open and reflective audience, conventional and non-conventional, using modern media and technology (blackberry, iphones, podcast, blogs, emails and more) to deliver the benefits of the bill during the congressional debate period. Efforts must be geared towards achieving dominant success at the first round of voting, by constantly, in real-time, communicating the benefits of the bill to all constituencies: supporters and adversaries.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Redeeming the promise of America through Universal Health Care

People of Federal Way, People of King County, People of Washington State, People of America, there is no more important thing on my mind than the health care initiative being debated in the corridors of our government nowadays. I am pausing today to talk about an issue that is as important as the environment: health care for the millions of Americans who are either under insured or uninsured. Finding the solution to the thorny issue of cost, if we ever get to the stratosphere of providing universal health care for all God’s children, Jews and Gentile, Protestants and Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’i, Unorthodox and Orthodox (my apologies to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), will be a minor issue. Whenever there is a will there is a way, so goes the saying.

Listening to Governor Gregoire talk to KUOW/NPR yesterday in their ‘meet personalities in government’ program, gave me an eye opener: It will take us everything to get the universal health care initiative through the congress this second time around. She said she is about to visit the other Washington to confer with President Obama, to help move the initiative through the doors of the high and mighty. She says, we appreciate what the Clinton Administration did for health care, though not much, but it is now time to pull the bull by the horn and find solution to the ever rising cost of health care for all Americans. My deduction from her interview with KUOW/NPR is that the promise of America, at least with respect to health care, has not been realized for most Americans.

So where do we go from here? Tentatively, no one actually knows. However, we are going to need more conviction, courage and dedication to this course, if we are to win the current debate. We need a conviction in a health care system that does not discriminate on the basis of economic status of any American. As good as capitalism is, it often leaves behind the weak, the least privileged, and allows the winner to take all. As much as I love our capitalistic system, it has wrecked a structural crisis on the health care system. Apparently, the reality of life’s events is that death and dying happens to all. Without a healthy population, without patients receiving attention from doctors, nurses and all the medical personnel as soon as they need one, we all suffer ailment and death, whether poor or rich. That is the crust of this debate. We need a health care system that does not short-change anyone because of their employment status or bank statement.

Today, we need the courage to tell our congressmen and women that all Americans deserve and expect affordable healthcare coverage. Each American is an individual with one form of health status story or another. Some have lost their life savings, homes, and probably have filed for divorce and bankruptcy due to the unyielding cost of health care service. A healthy America is a productive America. We must inform those Americans who currently are against affordable health care for all, to put themselves in the shoes of a family that lost their homes or file for bankruptcy due to excessive health care cost and obligation.

The truth of the day is that we need affordable health care for all because it makes economic sense. Providing affordable health care for all Americans is not only a practical thing to do in light of current economic dispensation, it is probably the only thing that makes economic sense. Let us restructure our health care system and fund it with a conviction that we all reap the benefit of a healthy population. When people are healthy, they work hard and pay more taxes to the government to overcome whatever deficit that is so much the prerogative of those who would like the system to stay as it is.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Connect the Dots: National Health Care Insurance and Limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Efforts to introduce a National Health Care Insurance Policy for Americans has received criticism from opponents in the past on the basis of who was behind the first initiative at the executive wing; costs of such initiative; and, the fear that an initiative of this nature can only be construed as Health Socialism, since it will not allow for complete freedom of choice, including the: 1) freedom to pick one's doctor and treatment source; 2) freedom to move care to a provider of choice when there is an unsatisfactory performance in the care of loved ones by medical personnel; 3) freedom to allow pharmaceutical companies to conduct basic research that may dramatically improve production of revolutionary drugs and vaccines that will solve the challenge of cancer or similar ailment.

Here are a couple of reasons why the Clinton Administration’s stab at the first National Health Insurance initiative failed: 1) It’s goal of designing a comprehensive universal health care for all Americans was essentially too ambitious; 2) using the spouse of a sitting President to drive the objective of the plan opened it up for detractor’s criticism from both the right and the left, as this effort was unprecedented in the annals of public policy; 3) The voluminous (1000 pages) representation of the core element of the plan called for enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance to their workers through competitive but closely regulated health maintenance organizations (HMOs), without defining the role of the HMO’s in relation to employers and government funding of the program; 4) the bill suffered from not having a bipartisan support and cooperation and failed to take care of the little intricate issues associated with bills development and canvassing; 5) the process and the plan of enacting a gigantic bill as this needed more backroom hobnobbing and cooperative understanding to be able to get the bill through; 6) Unwillingness of the political parties to confront the associated risk of using Health Management Organization to manage part of the plan; 7) Failure of the initiative to allow for some state as well as private market to control medical pricing services; and 8) Medical staff and institutions who were to become key players in the process, doctors, hospitals, clinics and pharmacy, were not properly informed about health services deliveries nor offered a better appreciation of how far we have come to passing a healthcare insurance bill in the last 2 decades. Just before the introduction of the bill on the Senate floor, the far right political groups started singing new tune. A tune essentially designed to scuttle the progress already made at the committee level. They taut the National Health Insurance Initiative as unworkable given the existing dispensation of Medicare and Social Security laws.

The Obama’s Administration staff must now cross their T’s and dot their I’s before bringing their new bill and proposal on health care insurance and control of the burning of fossil fuels (green house gas emissions control). Drafters of the health insurance and carbon control initiatives must endeavor to answer the following questions about either of the proposals:
1) What can the Senators and Congressmen do to support the bill so that the potential of it passing has a greater chance, either in the short-term or in the long-term;
2) What can be done to execute the process of facilitating and ushering the bills on the floors of the house and senate and ensuring that guaranteed promises will not be broken;
3) How best can we explain the added cost to national health care bill from the mining of coal and the associated pollution of fossil burning without sounding trite?
4) What are the components of the proposed health care insurance that needs to be explained to any potential opponents to the bill;
5) Where do we go from here if we once again fail to convince the congress to pass these bills?
In these questions we will not only find answers to concerns of the current nay Sayers to a national health insurance bill or green house emission standard, but also avoid the pitfalls of the Clinton Administration that led to the demise of the first effort in congress regarding National Healthcare Insurance Initiative.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

American hotels effort to Conserve Water and Energy

I have been away for a week at University of California, Los Angeles. One of my good friends invited me to the graduation ceremony of her daughter in Films and Television at that California premier flagship college in Films, Television and Theater. It was a good time to visit with some of my classmates at Oklahoma State University some of whom I saw last thirty years ago. I stayed for three days at Piccadilly Inn Hotels in Fresno, California, where I was treated to some decency in hospitality. That was however, half of the fun, the other, was seeing in the market place, what American hotels were doing in conserving water and energy. The hotel in collaboration with the Project Planet program ran campaign around their hotel rooms with fliers saying: We invite you to join with us to conserve water by using your linens and towels more than once. In addition to decreasing water and energy consumption, you help us use fewer environmentally harmful chemicals and reduce the amount of detergent waste water that must be recycled within our community. This campaign is estimated to help save thousand of gallons of water and hundreds of gallons of detergent. With a widespread campaign like this, the hotels are bringing to our consciousness the importance of this effort to conserve resources, especially those that we use frequently and occasionally, if not often, wastefully!

The Piccadilly Inn and Hotels in collaboration with the Project Planet want us to: 1) recycle paper, aluminum, cardboard and other items where possible; 2) look for opportunities to be more environmentally friendly; 3) change linens every three days or upon request and towels, only as needed when guest stay more than one night; and, 4) use more environmentally friendly cleansers and detergents, among other things. The American Hotels believe that they are helping change the world through these practices, and would probably save 70, 000 gallons of water and 500 gallons of detergent annually at each medium-sized participating member in this august campaign. This is very heart warming. The hotels, known for the drive to make profit are reflective in their practices, looking at how they do business and see how they can be an instrument of change by encouraging millions of summer travelers who visit their hotels all around the country, to help conserve water and energy.

The question now is what other industry out there is attempting to help us go greener? If you know of others, I would like to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quality of municipal water supplies: The Case of Federal Way, Washington

Lakehaven Utility District's wastewater treatment plant provides water and sewer service to approximately 112,000 people in an area of approximately 35 square miles, including most of Federal Way and small portions of Des Moines, Auburn, Pacific, Tacoma, and Milton, Washington. The utility brought on stream a $220 million water supply project in collaboration with some neighboring water utility districts to supply 65 million gallons of water per day, including the city of Covington, Kent and Tacoma, Washington. This is not a small feat considering that many large cities in the United State use about 150 million gallons per gallon per day. Much of this water is used to carry waste away from the cities and a small fraction of the supply is used as drinking water.

The recent effort of Lakehaven Utility District to flush neighborhood water pipes has had tongues wagging about the exact quality of the water supply. Not that the quality of the water from the utility is necessarily in doubt, but the question of neighborhoods having to deal with some variable water quality during the flushing periods, makes one wonder. The audit of the utility which I could readily lay hands on was that of the calendar year of 1998, about eleven years ago, in which the States’ Auditor’s office, found the utility as being in compliance with State laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures. What exactly are the state’s laws and company policies and procedures?

We all tend to believe that state laws and regulations are responsive or perfect. That these laws and regulations take care of the concern of the citizens regarding subjects that affect their interest. Is that necessarily true? Think again. Consider how state laws and regulations are made. Your representative legislators seldom invent an idea, draft the idea into a bill, communicate with the public and press, the merits of the bill, nor do they lead substantial effort in lobbying at both houses of legislature and with the executive branch. What in reality happens is that groups of non-legislator help draft most bills, explain away the merits of these bills to the legislators themselves, and create the atmosphere of political legitimacy for the bill. These non-legislators are often lobbyist, bureaucrats, lawyers, academics and sometimes, in very rare cases, citizens. Can any citizen resident in Federal Way today claim that he has or had made a substantial effort to contribute to the laws and regulations that guide water supply from Lakehaven utility to residents of Federal Way? Probably Not. Thus to a large extent, the basis of the last audit which Lakehaven went through to establish the utility as meeting the expected criteria for supplying clean and ‘healthy’ water, was actually written up by someone who probably does not live in Federal Way, is not confronted yearly with the challenge of having to drink water with some variable taste and probably subscribed to the essence of having a bill of that nature in place. Is this a repudiation of the legislative process? Not exactly, what I am driving down in this blog is that the criteria and standard which a utility goes through to be certified as consistent with the interest of the people, is neither drafted by the impacted citizens themselves nor their representatives, as we are made to believe.

What we propose as residents of Federal Way, Washington, is a citizen watch group in combination with the efforts of the state auditor’s office in checking routinely the utility’s compliance with State laws and policies. We will allow the board of the utility to address compliance issues with company’s policies and procedures. Without a citizen watch group, it is rather difficult to discover the intermittent problem experienced by residents of the city when the utility goes about flushing its pipes just before the seasons’ change.

Monday, June 8, 2009

On Municipal Water Quality: A voice of caution

The issue of municipal water quality is raving its head all over again. Complaints from neighborhood residents as regard lateness in the flushing of their utility water pipes and the challenge of the definition of what constitute safe water source is not making the problem easier. Just as water coming from natural sources may be considered safe, the same source of water with high levels of sodium, trace metals and or dissolved solids with high pH-value, can be considered as unsafe. Civil Engineers working for water works inform me that where the arsenic level in a mineral water source is excessive, such water source may be considered as toxic and unsafe for human consumption. Arguably, many water utility companies providing municipal water supply, work extensively to diversify the risk of source water pollution, they go as far as finding multiple sources of water harvesting to reduce the risk of water pollution and guarantee water supply throughout the year. Some use a combination of natural surface water source(s), while others make use of water from wells and/or boreholes. Further, many engage in water management practices that ameliorate chances of municipal water contamination or pollution.

Civil Engineers at California Water works differentiated water contamination from water pollution in 1963. A differentiation which is still applicable four decades over : Water contamination is the impairment of the quality of water by sewage or industrial waste to an extent that it renders the water a hazard to public health because of the potential to poison or spread diseases. Water pollution is an impairment of the quality of water by sewage or industrial waste to a degree that does not create an actual hazard to public health, but adversely and unreasonably affect the quality of water for domestic, industrial, navigational or recreational use. These definitions provide a barometer for measuring water quality standard and also serve as the foundation of established policy of what may be considered as permissible pollution. For municipal water consumers these definitions are more confusions. The consumers would just like to know if the source(s) of water they are drinking or cooking with is clean. The technicality of defining water contamination as against pollution could be tricky considering our experience in the late 80’s when the National Resource Defense Council campaigned against the United States Environmental Protection Agency on the way it handled pesticides pollution from farms. At the time, the levels of dioxins in some municipal water source were unacceptable. While the Council had its own definition of acceptable standard the EPA had its own, and this completely just muddled up the public understanding of a problem that kept everyone on the edge.

No matter what definition you may rely on in differentiating a safe water source, it is important to adhere to the precautionary principle: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or environment, precautionary measure should be taken, even if some cause and effect relationship can not be fully scientifically established. The application of the precautionary principle, gives everyone some degree of control as to the safety of water they consume.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Environmental Torture in the Age of Blackberry & Smartphone.

The concept of environmental torture may now be credited to Henry Shue, Professor of Ethics & Public Life, Cornell University, who first introduced the concept of torture into environmental discuss through an earlier publication of his, in which he contends that the human consequences of climate change borders on deprivation of social and political rights. His position is that we cannot be talking about the consequences of climate change without talking about the social and political rights of people who bear the greatest burden of this problem. For many ethicist and environmentalist as him, the poor are much more vulnerable to climate change than the rich. Further, the vulnerability of poor communities tends to be inversely proportional to their responsibility in contributing to climate change. In addition, richer communities tend to emit higher proportion of greenhouse gases, through the multiple usages of carbon-emitting privileges and are less vulnerable to climate change. Professor Shun therefore contends that the vulnerability of the poor to the consequences of higher carbon emission, hence climate change, creates a situation of social and political injustice between the rich and the poor. While I may not be willing to go that far in looking at the consequences of climate change, I share his conviction that the most vulnerable among us, now and in the future, will surfer most from climate change if we do not resolve to cut down on our carbon emissions levels from the flaming of fossil fuel.

To some extent, you may not talk of climate change impact without looking at the issue of who will suffer most from continued climate change. Mitchell and Turner of the Institute of Developmental Studies in U.K. maintain that vulnerability is a combination of exposure to external shocks (e.g. a flood) and stresses (e.g. a gradual temperature increase), and the ability to cope with the resulting impacts. Current climate shocks, Katrina floods, and stresses, somehow exceeded the ability to cope, as we saw in the failure of the Federal Emergency System to cope with the tragedies of the Katrina floods. Without action to reduce exposure and improve the capacity to cope, the gradual and sudden changes associated with climate change will increase vulnerability in many areas. People’s tendency to hedge against risk on issue of climate change continues to fall short of the realty of its consequences. A utopia goal of reducing the total cumulative ton of carbon emission to a level not to exceed two centigrades temperature increase beyond the global pre-industrial age, which has been recommended by scientists, philosopher and environmentalist may not be attainable today. However, if we are able to cut now the pace of carbon emission, it may be feasible to save children of the future, from the external shocks of climate change. According to Shue at the University Of Washington School Of Law Conference: Three Degrees - The Law of Climate Change and Human Rights, those people who recommend that we should continue to burn fossil fuels until the returns to emitting carbon reaches zero, are enemies of the environment.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Doing our duty with the environment: What Washingtonians should know.

Doing our duty means so many things to so many people and or situation. But what this essentially entails is, doing what is reasonable and right. With respect to sustainable environment and productive economy, McDonough and Braungart in their epic book, Cradle to Cradle, indicated that doing our duty means when industries and people: 1) build buildings which like trees produce more energy than they consume; 2) develop factories that produce effluents that ends up being people’s drinkable waters; 3) establish transportation systems that improve people’s quality of life as they strive to deliver goods and services; 4) produce trillion dollars worth of goods and materials that serve human and natural purposes; and 5) spin out products that are recyclable; alternatively, products that can return industrial cycles to supply high-quality raw materials for new products. Fortunately, Washingtonians are familiar with doing our duty with respect to these identified obligations. We championed neighborhood recyclable bins in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Where we have been lacking is our ability to remain consistent with our goals and prodding our law makers to do the right thing.

To help us overcome this handicap, we will do the following in the coming weeks:
1) Call our legislatures and inform them of the consequences of their actions when they go against the will of the people, regarding clean energy and renewable resources; 2) Affirm the intrinsic value of clean water runoffs and why the cost-benefit analysis is an effective method for accessing impact of environmental decisions; 4) Communicate to each person around them that, while science is a very critical avenue for predicting environmental consequences of pollution, it must however be complemented with moral reasoning; 5) breath heavily on all lobbyist groups by encouraging our attorney generals to enforce laws on the books regarding lobbyist financial disclosure reports; and, 6) Call the Gregoire’s and Obama’s administration regarding our desire for a toxic free future, with safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals in the air. It is very ludicrous to presume that concern for the health of our environment is overboard. With all that is happening in the atmosphere and from scientific and practical point of view, it will be laughable if we do not raise issues with the ways laws regarding clean air, water and environment are being relegated to the back; or as my friend will like to say, kicked around the curb!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Policing Lobbyist influence on Environmental Bills in Washington State.

Something knocked me out silly today. It is the fact that many lobbying groups in Olympia are going scot free with no active scrutiny of their disclosure reports. As the debate on the clean energy bill raves in the other Washington, our experience in the loss of key active votes for Washington State Environmental and Clean Energy Bills makes me want to cry foul. The failures of some Environmental and Clean Energy bills in the recent session of Washington legislature make me wonder if the influence of money had not done damage to some of those bills. I am tempted to believe that some of the key votes that could have cradled the clean energy and environmental initiatives into laws, failed because the lobbyist groups did whatever they are known to do: Influence, Influence, and Influence.

We cannot stop lobbyist groups from continuing in a business they know best, but we can sure make them accountable about the way they conduct their business and filed their disclosure reports. In a recent review by the General Administration Office, auditors found that while some lobbyist were able to provide written documentation for an estimated 99% of their reports, a little over 14% of reports on income and expenses were full of contradictions. In few words, their income and expense submission cannot meet the necessary scrutiny to consider their filings as honest. This brings me to the question: If a man cannot be honest enough to keep his finances in order, how do we expect him to do the same when it comes to lobbying legislators on issues of concern to the public and to which the lobbyist has received payments to ensure that fairness and objectivity are least considered in the deliberations of the bills on the floor of both houses. Look to your favorite bill; and if you had it passed, praise your stars; for some of us who are mere mortals and who have made the clean energy and environmental initiatives our corner stone in Washington Politics, it sure hurts to continue to leek our wounds from losses in the last legislative session.

I understand that the United State Attorney General’s office for the District of Columbia is putting in place a system to better track, analyze and report on its enforcement of lobbyist filings on disclosure reports. While this process is going on in the other Washington, I hope the office of the Attorney General in Washington State is not looking away from the probable atrocities going on with lobbyist groups in Olympia. This is not an accusation; it is just a comment about the potential for pitfalls in the legislative process, when we all are keeping busy with other challenges of a tail spinning economy. And just as Mr. Cooper of CNN says it on his three hundred and sixty degrees program: Just keeping them all honest!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Keeping everyone focused on passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

Do any of you in Washington politics envisage that we will at this time of the year be having a debate over the underlying tenets of Waxman-Markey bill? Maybe not, especially when you look at the goal of the bill: capping and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. You imagine every one will be on this one at this time. Not exactly! I became more interested in this bill when it struggled through the voting process in the Federal House. From the voting results, I knew that we were really up for a big fight and that we cannot just rely on a few of the legislatures from either political parties to get this bill passed. Many of the critics of Waxman-Markey hinge their arguments on the disadvantages of cap-and-trade part of the bill. So contentious is this part of the bill that some democrats supporting the bill want some of its greenhouse gas emissions goal drawn back. The initial bill set an 83% reduction in greenhouse gases emissions by 2050 at the 2005 rate. Current negotiations to ensure that the bill passes seek incremental objectives: 20% reduction by 2020 and 42% reduction by 2030. As good as these compromises sound, one may wonder if in fact a draw back on the goal of the bill will actually serve the interest of all Americans. Compromises are great tools in achieving your ultimate goal in representative politics however, if the disadvantages of such compromises far outweigh their benefits, it may just be necessary to look elsewhere for support. For now, one is playing the field, trying to understand what senators or legislatures are unto when fanning the “gradualism” theory as a compromise item in the process of either killing the bill or helping the bill become law of the land. Ensuring that the bill passes through both houses of legislatures with little opposition or fanfare, is the immediate goal of refocusing peoples’ attention toward the bill and guaranteeing that doubting Thomas’s are onboard in earnest and are actually conceding their past skepticism. It is also the reason why lobby groups are asking voters to call their congressmen, to ensure that they are totally committed to voting in support of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

As it stands today, compromises are already being written into the bill, like minimizing the impact of climate legislation on workers and some industries, tasking the executive branch to establish guidelines for the operation of the carbon market to prevent fluctuation in price of carbon permits, and allowing companies to meet part of their emissions-reductions targets by using offsets protocol which does not firm very well with the spirit of the bill. These and other extensive compromises have propped some environmental groups in Washington State to put out clarion call for help from voters to call their legislature to: 1) ensure more clean energy for America and increases in renewable electricity standard to 30% by the year 2020; 2) restore the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions from coal; and, 3) reduce the number of free pollution permits to polluter and using the proceeds to create cleaner energy jobs. Whose effort of these two opposing camps will pay off, will not be known until we see the final bill to signed into law by the President.

If we rely on the comments of Chairmen Waxman and Markey, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, is a comprehensive approach to America’s energy policy that charts a new course towards a clean energy economy. To meet its goal, the Act has been subdivided into four titles: 1) a clean energy title that promotes renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequential technologies, low-carbon fuels, clean electric vehicles, and the smart grid and electricity transmission; 2) An energy efficiency title that increases energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation and industry; 3) A global warming title that places limits on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants; and 4) A transitioning title that protects American consumers and industry and promote green jobs. One may find the conviction to this bill in the comments made by the Chairman of the energy and commerce committee: With this Act, it will be possible to create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path of energy independence and cut global warming pollution. To Chairman Waxman's comments, I whole heartedly say: Amen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Triteness and policy initiatives: Is our governor’s executive order on greenhouse gas emissions control not already addressed in NEPA?

There is a growing demand for incentives to reduce carbon emission. We have seen proposals from cap and tax program to some unique programs designed to discourage use of petrochemicals industrial pollutants. The governor of the State of Washington had recently mandated state agencies through executive order, to work with their counterparts in other six western states, and probably all the fifty states and the federal government to help control green house gas emissions and to create jobs. Not that all these programs really matter considering the type of reception past government policies on the environment had received. When the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 was initiated, the objective was to have in place a policy that encourages productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment, stimulate the health and welfare of man, enrich understanding of the ecological systems and important natural resources. If one considers the grandstanding purpose of the act, it would not be far-fetched to say that, had the objective of title I of the National Environmental Policy Act been met, it would not be necessary to now be considering alternative policy strategies to address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions at the state level.

According to Title 1 of NEPA, the federal government wanted NEPA to: 1) Fulfill the responsibilities which each generation has as trustees of the environment to succeeding generations; 2) Assure Americans safe, healthy, productive, aesthetic and culturally pleasing environment; 3) Attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable and unintended consequences; 4) preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our natural heritage, and maintain, whenever possible an environment which supports diversity, and a variety of individual choice; 5) Achieve a balance between the population and resource use which will permit high standards of living; and 6) Enhance the quality of renewable resources and approach the maximum attainable recycling of depleted resources. Reading through the provisions of title 1, one can eventually say, what much difference can there be with respect to an executive order to control greenhouse gas emissions. The truth of the matter though is that NEPA has achieved a lot, yet in some realm at the State level, very little. In an effort to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, If the government of a state duplicates the policy component of NEPA, except of course an Environmental Impact Statement, would it not be trite? Would it not be trite to consider the same policy objectives that drove the initiation of NEPA forty-years ago in the year 2009? Are there no more fresh ideas at the State Level to help address greenhouse gas emissions? I vehemently disagree with those that say the problems are dissimilar at this time. That the environmental issue that NEPA had tried to resolve is necessarily different from a State governor’s mandate to control greenhouse gas emissions in the 21st century.

My contention is that we do not need to re-invent the spade. NEPA like the Clean Air Act of 1970 had both answered challenging questions about the environment that the current executive order on controlling greenhouse gas emission may aspire to resolve. Experiences and knowledge gained over close to four decades with NEPA and the 1970 Clean Air Act are sufficient enough and transferable enough to discountenance any impact that an executive order may have in resolving the issue of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington State. There is no need to duplicate the fervor of an existing federal law, voted on by a representative constituent assembly at the federal level at a state level, especially when it looks as if an undemocratic process is being used to accomplish the task.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What’s Next: Strategy to address Greenhouse Gas Emission

The strategy to adopt in addressing greenhouse emission level is rife in the political corridors of the State houses and the Federal houses. While most strategies on the table seem amendable enough to change, one thing is very certain: the concept of sustainability. Sustainability requires that prescribed strategy today does not make narrow choices that will push the responsibility of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the coming generation of leaders. As Andreas Edwards puts it in Sustainable Revolution, Sustainability entails the three Es: environment, economy and equity. The strategy prescribed must be such that the imbalance in the environment due to carbon dioxide emissions is stabilized enough, if not totally eradicated, to help maintain harmony in the ecosystem. The strategy must be such that excessive stress is not introduced to an economy that is underperforming, if not tanking. Finally, there must be equity in the quality of life attained today through correction of environmental imbalance with responsive strategies, just as what is expected by future citizens.

According to the Executive Director of Greenpeace: in the end, protecting the environment is about very clear choices. We can either standup for what is right – our health, humanity and heritage on this planet of ours – or we can sit by and watch while decisions are made that threatens to destroy our collective future. Proponents of corrective strategies to reduce green house gas emissions recommend that any strategy adopted must be two pronged: 1) able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobile; 2) able also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation. We have all witnessed the successes and failures of both the adaptive management strategy versus the pragmatic strategy of the last two administrations, with respect to forest conservation. While the adaptive management strategy emphasized environmental sustainability and involvement of local decision makers, the pragmatic strategy excluded the moral and legal presumption, focusing more on utilitarian conservation. Which of these strategies has worked well in the arena of forest conservation is still subject to debate. The baggage that either of these strategies carries has made me take a long look at many of the proposed strategies for controlling greenhouse gas emissions, and say: we must get it right this time to make the effort worth its while.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Utility Companies Commitment to Energy Efficiency in Washington State

In the May 2009 issue of Puget Sound Business Journal, the CEO of Puget Sound Energy, prides its company for having more than 130 years of trusted, safe and clean energy supply to Puget Sound residents. According to him: As good steward of energy supply, Puget Sound Energy looks for better ways to promote energy efficiency, develop renewable energy resources, protect the environment and support Puget Sound communities. Can Puget Sound Energy open its books to energy researchers, environmentalists and lawmakers to ascertain its claim? Can they honestly justify their claim to energy efficiency? As a buff of Non-Profit organizations helping support the greenhouse gas reduction initiative, it is nice to know that for profit utilitity companies are coming around to appreciate the need to reduce our carbon footprint, or have at least paid some lip-service to this course in the past, and will probably do better in the coming years. Can the State Government depend on the contribution of all organizations, profit and non-profit, to pitch in so that the dream of completely clean and safe energy can be a reality? If Puget Sound Energy prides itself as the second largest utility generator of windpower in the nation, what is number one doing that number two is not doing? Would number two dig dip and ask itself the question: do I really want to be second best? It is fine and dandy to know that Puget Sound Energy is preserving salmon lives at the Baker River Hudoelectric Generating Plant, would all utilities supplying energy in Washington State make effort to ensure that they too are environmentally responsible with their neighbors in the Puget Sound Region?

Enough questions for Puget Sound Energy today! In the spirit of challenging every citizen, corporate and non-corporate, to move ahead to a green economy, I will shift my concern to the lone coal generating plant in Washington. Can it claim to keep electricity generation clean as the Puget Sound Energy claims? Does it want to continue to disregard our community urgent needs for clean and safe energy? Is the clean energy strategy of the last 130 years adopted by Puget Sound Energy, not worthy of emulation by the coal generating plant, for the sake of cleaner air, energy and better environment. I can hear my neighbors saying I am very forcy when it comes to the green economy. They probably are saying no matter how objective I try to be, my knowledge about clean energy generation by utility companies are subjective; and, to a large extent, no observation about an issue as huge as generating clean energy can be made, without some personal dispositions to some issues rather than others. For these reasons, I am going to quit tonight and hope that the lone coal generating plant in Washington State is actually closing on, on the new game in town.