Show a green commitment

Contrary to the apparent fears of most state senators, it is in our state’s economic interest to be a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

House members should consider that as they take up a Senate bill that severely weakened the governor’s proposal to implement a cap-and-trade system in 2012.

Humankind needs to reduce its carbon footprint to curb the effects of climate change, and President Obama has proposed doing so through a national cap-and-trade system. As a member of the Western Climate Initiative, a cooperative effort of seven states and four Canadian provinces, Washington has stated its intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, with further reductions over time.

A cap-and-trade system would mandate those reductions, and create a market where polluters who stay under emission targets could trade allowances to those who have exceeded them. Staying out front on this complex issue, rather than simply waiting for the feds to take action, carries potentially huge benefits for Washington, such as:

n Maintaining the state’s reputation for green innovation, drawing entrepreneurs and clean-energy companies that will fuel the 21st century economy. That will put Washington in position for jobs, good paying jobs, when the economy finally begins to grow again.

n Maximizing the state’s leverage as a national cap-and-trade system takes shape. Washington should get credit for the ways it already curbs greenhouse gas emissions —through agriculture, forestry and the use of hydropower — something regions of the country with high emissions will fight. Being recognized as a green leader by rule makers should help, and could save state businesses and utilities billions.

The recession, however, has many lobbyists and lawmakers fearful of anything that might cost consumers and businesses more. So when the Senate passed E2SSB 5735 last week, it took all the teeth out of the governor’s cap-and-trade plan, essentially calling for more study.

The House needs to do better, at least by establishing a hard-and-fast emission cap, even if it means taking more time to develop the particulars of a trading system. (We’ll note, though, that Europe has provided a pretty good blueprint for mistakes to avoid and successes to follow. It shouldn’t take a year or more to come up with a workable plan.)

Now is the time to be setting the stage for a strong economic recovery, not for sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to lead. Lawmakers should be doing everything they can to encourage green businesses to locate here. One way is to send a clear signal that Washington is committed to doing two things at the same time: reducing its carbon footprint and fueling its economy.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial: Work ahead even if county can move to Phase 2

While easing restrictions would be welcome, there’s much to be done to get the economy going again.

Editorial cartoons for Monday, June 1

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial: State officials’ pay raises poorly timed

Set by a citizen panel a year ago, the raises begin just as the state needs to make deep budget cuts.

Editorial: If not for yourself, wear face masks for others

Masks aren’t perfect, but studies are showing they can help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Editorial: State gains keener watch of dams to protect salmon

The state can now require federal dam operators to maintain cooler river temperatures to aid salmon.

Commentary: Officers’ actions in Floyd’s death not by the book

Their treatment of a suspect went against the training expected of law enforcement officers.

Commentary: It’s no longer Trump’s economy; it’s the pandemic’s

While the economy is likely to improve, it may not recover quickly enough to help Trump in November.

Don’t sign petitions against K-12 sexual health education

Please offer your strong public support to implement comprehensive sexual health education… Continue reading

Everyone should follow the advice of experts

None of us has ever been here before. Previous epidemics, with the… Continue reading

Most Read