Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tackling the daunting environmental challenges we face, one step at a time

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) recently moved the minute hand of their Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight (which represents the figurative end of civilization) in acknowledgment of several major environmental challenges that affect the entire world, including nuclear proliferation and global warming.

Whatever you think of the Doomsday Clock, there's no denying that we are facing some serious problems. As Representative Jay Inslee recently said, "if we don't solve global warming, nothing else will matter."

Priorities for a Healthy Washington recently presented a workshop outlining this year's priorities for the 2007 legislative session:
  • Clean Air and Clean Fuels
  • Enhancing the Wildlife and Recreation Program
  • Saving Puget Sound
  • Eliminating toxic PDBE Flame Retardants
All the priorities are important, but given that the clean air and clean fuel proposals address the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (the cause of global warming) they are perhaps the most significant. Two bills have been introduced that address the emissions problem by reducing fossil fuel consumption.

HB 1303 (sponsored by Representative Mary Lou Dickerson) would create the Clean Diesel Initiative, a school bus replacement incentive program, a clean fuels initiative, and a plan to reduce emissions of the state's motor pool. This bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources on Wednesday, January 24th, at 8:00 AM.

SB 5287 (sponsored by Senator Phil Rockefeller) encourages the development and use of renewable energy. State agencies would be required to meet certain energy consumption targets beginning in 2009. The bill has been referred to Water, Energy & Telecommunications, but no public hearing has been scheduled yet.

On the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 (H.R. 6) as part of the caucus' "100 Hours" program. The legislation is unlikely to make it past the White House and Bush's veto, but at least Congress is making an effort to act in America's best interest.

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