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Showing posts from June, 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…

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, po…

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 c…

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 bes…

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 o…

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.…

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 underpe…

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 ach…

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 seco…

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…

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 detergen…

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 doub…

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 …

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. Pro…

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 n…

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 recen…

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 t…

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 th…

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 enviro…

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 o…