It is true this year’s drought and wildfire season wreaked havoc on the state, a point that Gov. Jay Inslee makes while promoting his government-centric carbon emissions reduction plan. But the governor’s labeling of those who disagree with the details of his plan as “fear mongers” is not fair.
There is no denying there is more work ahead, but there is also no denying that Washington employers and their employees are already leading the way toward the cleaner future that Gov. Inslee — and frankly all Washingtonians — so strongly desire.
Employers and workers have made it abundantly clear they share the governor’s goal of lowering carbon emissions, even if they disagree about the effectiveness of the governor’s proposed carbon cap.
Gov. Inslee has continued to say “it’s time to lead,” but Washington employers and employees are already leading the way toward environmental solutions that work — without top-down, bureaucratic mandates that raise taxes on everyday citizens but don’t solve the problem. Here are just a few examples:
- From 2007 to 2014, the Boeing Co. reduced its U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 9.3 percent while increasing production rates 50 percent.
- Spokane-based IEDS installed electronic on-board recording devices in its trucks this year to allow the company to track real-time drive and vehicle performance information to optimize delivery routes. In two months, the company reduced engine idle time by 40 percent and increased mileage per gallon by 8 percent, decreasing fuel use by 3,780 gallons. With the overwhelming majority of carbon emissions coming from the transportation sector, this kind of progress makes a real and positive impact on our environment.
- Nucor Steel in Seattle is known for being the greenest steel mill not only in the country, but throughout the world. It has been a first-adopter of energy-efficient technology and is operated using green power — hydroelectricity — giving it one of the lowest carbon footprints of any steel mill in the world.
- Spokane-based Avista Utilities is at the forefront of evaluating how a new battery technology can be used to improve power quality for customers while maximizing the economic value of hydropower and potentially optimizing the grid to accommodate wind and solar energy storage and use.
- Alaska Airlines, a founding member of Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest, is a leader in exploring opportunities for the use of biofuel in commercial air travel.
- Over the past 15 years, Inland Empire Paper Company has implemented carbon reduction strategies that have reduced the company’s footprint by 30,000 tons of carbon per year, lowered natural gas consumption by 77 percent and has developed a state-of-the-art algae-based water treatment technology.
There are hundreds, even thousands, of examples like these that illustrate how employers in our state take seriously their shared environmental responsibility — all done with private investment that protects consumers, jobs and the environment.
As a result, Washington emits less carbon dioxide today than it did in 1990, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, despite adding 2 million new residents since then — and our state has the eighth greenest economy in the nation.
That didn’t happen by accident. Working together with their employees, Washington employers have proven to be innovators and responsible partners in our shared effort to build a great economy while protecting valuable natural resources including air, water, wildlife and forests.
To us, this is anything but fear mongering. It embodies our spirit of ingenuity, collaboration, responsibility and innovation, the pillars on which our dynamic economy is built.
It is in the best interest of business and labor to continue to work together, building upon our success.
In the spirit of collaboration, we should park the name-calling and focus on the values, goals and solutions of our Washington.
Kris Johnson is the president of the 7,900-member Association of Washington Business. Daren Konopaski is vice president and business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302.