So we started green when Obama named Bill Richardson for Commerce Secretary. Then he withdrew and was replaced by the not-very-green Judd Gregg. Then he thankfully did the next 50 generations a big favor by withdrawing.
Now Obama appears to be back on the green track with the likely choice of former Gov. Gary Locke of Washington, a Democrat and the only Chinese-American ever to be governor of any state. As E&E Daily (subs. req’d) reports, he is green and climate smart and “well-regarded by Washington state environmental groups:
“Governor Locke has the experience of being governor of Washington, where protecting the environment is critical to the state’s strong economy and our high quality of life,” said Sudha Nandagopal, Washington Conservation Voters spokeswoman. “Having a person with that background shaping national policy is important in this time when addressing climate change and clean energy issues is critical to reviving out economy.”
In particular, environmentalists point out that Locke was one of the original authors of the West Coast Governors Global Warming Initiative, which laid the foundation for the Western Climate Initiative.
Locke also took several other actions as governor that linked economic development with environmental policy, including a 2002 executive order stating that the state would use its buying power to purchase environmentally friendly products and another in 2005 establishing efficiency standards for state operations.
Indeed, you can go the archived website from when he was governor, and take a look at everything he did under “Combating climate change”:
What we’re doing about it
In the absence of meaningful federal action, we on the West Coast have a responsibility to act, and act quickly. The following highlights the initial actions we are taking in Washington:
West Coast Governors’ Initiative
In September 2003, the governors of the three West Coast states committed to a regional greenhouse gas reduction initiative. As an initial step, we directed our staffs to develop joint policy recommendations on five reduction strategies that will benefit from regional cooperation and action: hybrid vehicle procurement, reduced ports and highway diesel emissions, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and measurement and reporting. Staff recommendations have now been developed and approved by the three governors. (PDF 735k)
Energy Efficiency and Alternative fuels
Low-sulfur diesel fuel — In May 2004, Washington State Ferries announced that it would shift its entire ferry fleet to low-sulfur diesel fuel. It will also test both ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel and biodiesel fuel. The ferry system has also upgraded its vessels with more-efficient engines and made changes to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and will continue seeking new ways to improve fuel efficiency. As a result of these changes, nearly 10,000 fewer tons of pollutants will be released into the air by ferry fuel emissions. For more information about ultra-low sulfur fuel, contact the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
The Department of General Administration’s Energy Program manages energy efficiency projects in public buildings using Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC). They recently gathered together their information on completed projects to produce an Environmental Benefit Calculations page (PDF 76k). This shows the state’s leadership in addressing Greenhouse Gases by energy efficiency measures.Biodiesel — Washington now grants tax deferrals and exemptions for biodiesel fuel production and sales, and state agencies are required to use a minimum of two percent biodiesel fuel in diesel-powered equipment and vehicles. The Superintendent of Public Instruction is exploring using biodiesel in the state’s school buses. For information about these bills, visit the Washington State Legislature.
Building efficiency standards
The State Building Code Council has improved energy efficiency standards for all residential structures. Over the next 15 years these savings–counting just those from the single-family housing market–will keep nearly two million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. These efficiency improvements also save homeowners money from their very first year of home ownership.
On March 31, 2004, I signed Substitute House Bill 3141 (PDF 31k), which codified our proposal to create America’s toughest siting standards for new fossil-fueled power plants. These plants will have to offset 20 percent of their expected carbon dioxide emissions by planting trees, paying for natural-gas transit buses, or finding other offset opportunities. For a typical 650-megawatt power plant, this will reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions by almost 2.5 million metric tons over 30 years.
Commute Trip Reduction (CTR)
Through a variety of strategies, including transit passes, carpool benefits, flexible hours and telework, we actively encourage state employees to drive less. For others, the Washington Dept. of Transportation operates a Public Transportation web site with information about park-and-rides, bus service, passenger rail, and other helpful links.
Fleet efficiency measures
The Office of State Procurement has two different hybrid electric sedans available on contract and will soon be adding an SUV hybrid electric vehicle and a zero emission neighborhood electric vehicle. State and local government agencies have added over 400 hybrid vehicles to our fleet in the past five years. Hybrid-electric vehicles are highly fuel efficient and have been shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 33 percent.
Measurement and tracking
Washington citizens and policymakers need sound data about the sources of greenhouse gas emissions as well as current trends. The energy policy division of the Dept. of Community, Trade and Economic Development has been tracking greenhouse gas emissions in Washington and has just completed an updated report, “Washington State’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Sources and Trends.” (PDF 342k)
Renewable energy incentives
New legislation exempts Washingtonians who buy fuel cells or renewable energy equipment such as wind turbines and solar voltaic panels from sales and use taxes. For information, contact the Washington Dept. of Revenue.
Washington State and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) have created a partnership with a common goal of reducing energy use in 30 state parks. The company provides free “energy audits” identifying opportunities for utility cost reduction. After each park completes installation of recommended upgrades, PSE pays back up to 50 percent of total costs in rebates. The parks save money for use elsewhere and the company helps reduce energy consumption in its service area, thus helping reduce global warming.
Washington State Parks are utilizing renewable energy sources on parklands by installing wind turbines in some of their coastal facilities. Grayland Beach State Park are purchasing a 10,000-watt Wind-turbine to provide power to public restrooms. A grant is covering 80 percent of the project cost. The wind-produced power will exceed the needs of the restrooms; excess power will go back to the power grid as “negawatts.” Westport Light State Park will install a smaller 400-watt Wind-turbine to power public restrooms at the beach.
One of my highest air pollution priorities is curbing harmful emissions from school buses. In 2003, the Legislature provided $25 million that will upgrade up to 90 percent of the state’s existing school buses with emission reduction technology. Meanwhile, the Office of Superintendent for Public Instruction, the Washington State Patrol and the Department of Ecology have created a state-wide emissions testing and maintenance program for school buses. A similar program in Iowa reduced diesel soot emissions by 27 percent overall.
Other possible actions
Our energy analysts are currently investigating additional strategies to reduce or avert CO2 emissions. We are considering adopting state energy efficiency standards for products not covered by the federal government (where multiple manufacturers deliver products that meet such new standards). We also plan to explore the adoption of energy portfolio standards that would guide utilities to invest in energy efficiency programs and select renewable resources to meet a minimum percentage of Washington’s electricity needs.
Let’s hope that he’s paid his taxes and that the third time is a charm so Obama can round out his green dream team:
- Carol Browner to oversee energy and climate at the White House
- SOS trumps NSA (Hillary Clinton trumps Gen. Jones)
- Top 5 reasons Chu is a great energy pick — #1: “It’s not guaranteed we have a solution for coal”
- Obama picks a green jobs leader for Labor Secretary: Hilda Solis
- For NOAA head, Obama appoints yet another scientist who gets climate
- Obama’s strongest message on climate yet: John Holdren to be named Science Adviser