Category Archives: Commentary

Commentary written by OCA & others

Legislators: Put a price on carbon now

By unanimous agreement at our meeting of 5/7/2017, we have sent this letter to our state legislators:

Senator Kevin Van de Wege

Representative Steve Tharinger

Representative Mike Chapman

Washington State Legislature

Dear State Legislative representatives from District 24:

Olympic Climate Action maintains a membership of more than 600 members from the Olympic Peninsula through email and other social media. Our membership promotes action by government at all levels to both mitigate climate change and prepare adaptation measures. We believe that the single most urgent thing we need to do as a society is to put a price on carbon that reflects its true costs and provides a disincentive for its use. Our membership has been happy to see a number of proposed carbon tax bills under consideration by the state legislature. Each has its pros and cons. In urging your own consideration, we would like to underscore the following concepts:

  • Urgency: Scientists tell us that we have precious little time to waste on converting to a clean-energy economy, and therefore we urge action on a carbon-pricing bill NOW. Economists seem to converge on an initial price at $25 per ton of CO2.
  • Efficacy: Scientists such as James Hansen, former NASA lead climate scientist, also tell us that to set a target that doesn’t risk the safety and well-being of the next generation, we need to aim for 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere by the end of the century, and that to hit such a target, we need to reach a 91% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Our carbon pricing needs to aim for that target.
  • Support for mitigation: Use some of the proceeds to actively support the reduction of our carbon footprint through incentives, research, and infrastructure investment.  Explore the creation of a market for forest carbon sequestration.
  • Equity: Assure that those least able to deal with additional expenses in their budgets find relief; that poor communities least able to deal with cope with climate impacts are helped to achieve resiliency; and that workers in dislocated economic sectors are helped to find alternate employment.
  • Integrity: Construct the program in such a way that it does not lead to “leakage” of greenhouse-gas emissions to other states or countries.
  • Accountability and oversight: Ensure that taxpayers’ funds are spent both effectively and efficiently with broad benefits, including implementing the State’s Clean Air Rule.

In addition to carbon pricing, we also support these related initiatives:

  • Oil Transportation Safety (HB 1611) will help address a $3.6 million funding shortfall in state oil spill prevention programs, improve oil spill prevention for Puget Sound, and provide more public input on proposed oil pipeline projects. This is common-sense protection for our communities, and it comes under threat of vastly increased shipping in our waters.
  • The creation of an electric vehicle charging station loop around the Olympic Peninsula.  While such infrastructure will enhance our tourism business, it will also facilitate the conversion by local residents to electric vehicles.  We hope you will work with your colleagues to support General Fund investment in publicly-available electric vehicle charging stations, as well as the maximum allowable funding of EV chargers from the VW litigation settlement.

Please respond with your positions on these topics, or if you wish we’d be glad to meet with you to discuss these critical issues.

Sincerely,

The members of Olympic Climate Action, adopted unanimously at our general membership meeting of May 7, 2017

Climate change is a justice issue

Heat waves that have office workers reaching for the air conditioning will have farm workers facing heat stroke. Rising food prices that hit the rich in the wallet will hit the poor in the stomach. And storms that rattle windows in affluent homes will sweep away poor homes entirely.   –environmental economist Jonah Busch

Trust me! I’m from Exxon!

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair, 1878-1968 (cartoon by Port Angeles artist Jim Fetter)

Oppose a “Climate-Denial Cabinet”

Peninsula Daily News story here
This issue was discussed at the Clallam County Commissioners’ work session on Jan. 17.  One Commissioner, Mark Ozias, pledged to take action on behalf of our community, and deserves our thanks.
At our monthly meeting on 1/8/2017, OCA unanimously directed our Executive Committee to write this letter to Washington’s Senators, urging them to carefully vet the Cabinet-level nominees of the incoming Trump administration, to protect our community from the consequences of failing to act decisively on climate change.  And we’re urging our local governments to write a similar note.
This issue is on the Clallam County Commissioners’ work session agenda for Jan. 17, between 9-10 AM.  Concerned citizens are urged to attend.

It’s up to us to stop these attacks before they can really start. Join us during the first 100 hours of Trump’s presidency to set a tone that we will not stand for any attempts to undermine the fight for justice.

We are quite concerned about the actions to date of President-Elect Trump and his advisors on the issue of climate change, many of whom seem determined to moving the country backwards on climateWe simply cannot afford to move backward:  the consensus climate models indicate that if decisive action is not taken immediately, we will be setting in motion an unacceptable level of climate chaos for decades to come.  We are concerned by a number of facts about Trump’s cabinet-level nominees:

In summary, we are concerned that Donald Trump seems to be putting in place a Climate Denial administration that threatens our very future, and we ask you to do everything in your power to protect our nation and the earth from those who ignore science, risking those they are entrusted to protect.  To send a message to Trump, go here.  And to send a message to the Senate about these nominees, go here.

For more background on these nominees:

The risks of climate change to our local community have been well documented in a recent multi-stakeholder study in which most of our local governments were involved, led by the North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council—see http://www.noprcd.org/about2.  We simply cannot afford to stop making progress on the transition to a clean-energy economy and on preparing for climate impacts we won’t be able to avoid.  We must all stand up to protect our common future.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Climate Change

An artistic tour-de-force by local family physician Ned Hammar (notes here):

hitchhikersguidetoclimatechangep2

Back

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Front

Vote!  Our future depends on it!

Paul Krugman makes clear how crucial this election is to the fate of our climate.  He’s talking at the national level, but that’s true at all levels.

OCA endorses these state initiatives:

I-732 would put a tax on carbon that would be balanced by reductions in other state taxes plus a Working Families Tax Rebate.

I-735 would put Washington state on record as calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution overturning Citizens United and reducing the power of money in politics.

I-1464 would implement a number of state reforms to level the playing field for candidates and increase transparency in campaign contributions.

OCA doesn’t endorse candidates, but we encourage people to study candidates’ views on climate:

Presidential candidates’ views on climate change

State and local races:  the League of Women Voters’ Vote 411 provides a guide to candidates’ positions, including on climate.

Clallam County Commissioner:  a question about climate change was posed during the League of Women Voters debate.

Jefferson County races:  several forums are collected here.

Register to Vote Today

OCA endorses these state initiatives:

I-732–a revenue-neutral carbon tax

I-735–calling for a constitutional amendment to enable better regulation of campaign finance