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.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

LIVE from Bell Harbor: EPA listens to testimony on climate crisis findings

All today the United States Environmental Protection Agency is holding a hearing to gather public input on its Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act (wow, that's a bureaucratic mouthful). In other words, the EPA is holding a meeting to get public reaction to its conclusion that global warming is real and our planet is threatened by a climate crisis.

As you might expect, the prevalent theme of all the testimony so far today has been it's about time. During the Bush error, the EPA was unable to effectively carry out its mission, and many commenters alluded to that in their remarks, expressing relief that the Obama administration is now in charge.

Since convening at 9 AM this morning the EPA has heard from Governor Chris Gregoire, State Representative Dave Upthegrove, State Senator Phil Rockefeller, Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark, and the head of Washington's Department of Ecology, Jay Manning, along with speakers representing the state's environmental community and many socially responsible businesses.

EPA Hearing in Seattle
Above: EPA staff listen to testimony at Bell Harbor Conference Center

The governor was first to speak, and less than an hour after her she testified, her office announced she was issuing an executive order to reduce greenhouse gases and battle the climate crisis. Said Gregoire: "This executive order benefits our economy as much as our environment. It will protect our natural resources, while creating thousands of green-collar jobs and strengthening our state’s competitiveness in the global race for a clean energy economy."

Gregoire's office says the executive order directs state agencies to:
  • Develop emission reduction strategies and industry emissions benchmarks to make sure 2020 reduction targets are met.
  • Work with TransAlta to reduce emissions from the company’s coal-fired power plant near Centralia by more than half.
  • Ensure Washington has trees to capture harmful carbon, while creating financial incentives for the forestry industry.
  • Work on low-carbon fuel standards or alternative requirements to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Join with neighboring states and the private sector to implement a West Coast highway accessible to electric and alternative-fuel vehicles.
  • Address rising sea levels and the risks to water supplies.
  • Increase transit options, such as buses, light rail, and ride-share programs, and give Washington residents more choices for reducing the effect of transportation emissions.
  • Continue to work with six other Western states and four Canadian provinces in the Western Climate Initiative to develop a regional emissions reduction program design.
  • Work with the Obama Administration to help design a national program that is strong, and reflects state priorities.
The Environmental Protection Agency is represented here today by Rick Albright, Rona Birnbaum, Dina Kruger, and Jason Samenow.

UPDATE, 11:50 AM: Mayor Greg Nickels just spoke. People can say what they like about his record as mayor, but his remarks were powerful, polished, and extraordinarily concise. He did a really good job of reviewing the harmful impacts the climate crisis will have on Seattle and Washington State. I'll try to post a transcript of what he said later.

My favorite speakers so far have been Terri Glaberson and Kristen McCaa from CoolMom (who brought their very well behaved kids!), KC Golden of Climate Solutions, and Gifford Pinchot III of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (yes, he's the grandson of the first leader of the United States Forest Service).

UPDATE II, 12:21 PM: It's lunchtime! I'm going to head outside to check out the rally, and then home afterwards. For continuing coverage. follow David Roberts on Twitter... he's microblogging what's going on.


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