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King County Exec/WA Lawmakers on PHEVs & Climate Crisis
Feb 8, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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Saying, "Global warming will be the defining issue for humankind in the 21st century," County Executive Ron Sims released a King County Climate Plan heavily focused on transportation. He announced the county (which encompasses Seattle) hopes to buy 400 PHEVs. Sims drove to Olympia in Ryan Fulcher's Prius (converted at the Maker Faire last April) for events we previewed Tuesday­calcars-news/­680.html.

News reports describe Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and state legislators as dashing to catch up with other Western states (i.e. California) on climate change. The state's legislative package includes agency purchases of PHEVs and creating a new position of State Climatologist.

Below are two items about King County: excerpts from a King5 news report and Sims' press release, and two stories on the state event from the Olympian and the Seattle Post-Intellligencer story.

Here's video of the Olympia event. See GM's presentation at a little less than half way: Senate Water, Energy & Telecommunication February 07, 2007 Work Session: Clean energy and electrification of transportation. click on "watch" link:­media/­recentevnt.cfm­media/­recentevnt.cfm The following MAY be the permanent link:­MediaPlayer/­Archived/­WME.cfm?EVNum=2007020100&TYPE=V­MediaPlayer/­Archived/­WME.cfm?EVNum=2007020100&TYPE=V

King County's 30-year plan to cut greenhouse gasses
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
By GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News­topstories/­stories/­NW_020707ENBsimsplanEL.5f4156d7.html

SEATTLE - King County Executive Ron Sims wants to lead the nation in cutting greenhouse gasses, and he's concentrating on the fuel tank to get it done. It's a plan that spans the next 30 years.

Experts say every gallon of fossil fuel we burn clings to atmospheric compounds to form 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. That's a load and that's why Ron Sims is looking first and foremost at our tailpipes.

King County has one of the highest percentages of hybrid cars of any county in the nation.

"And our key is to look at those issues, transportation, and make the tough decisions on the type of vehicles we use and how to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled," Sims said.

Transportation is the focal point of a 200-page county climate plan he introduced Wednesday. Sims says he'll start by continuing to cut the greenhouse contributions made by his own county government.

A lot of the heavy lifting is already done. Take for instance, the county's huge fleet of vehicles: it has one of the highest percentages of hybrid cars of any county in the nation. The county shop is full of them and new hybrid cars are already rolling in and being prepared to carry the county logo.

"And that wasn't good enough, so we are also going to order 400 plug-in hybrid vehicles," Sims said.

King County is already a national leader in cutting greenhouse gases. Sims' plan has an ambitious goal to reduce those gas emissions by another 80 percent by the year 2050.

The plan also calls for adding more incentives for the rest of us to drive less, with more HOV lanes, 15 to 20 percent more buses and carpooling options. But Sims knows he cannot ask more of us than he does for his own department so he makes a solemn vow.

"We're going to walk our talk in every facet and every function of King County government," Sims said. "We are going to reduce our impact significantly."

When asked what this will cost us, Sims promised it will be much less than doing nothing.

Sims' plan comes on the heels of last week's big international summit declaring human activity is an all-but-certain cause of global warming.

King County News Release King County Proposes Global Warming Action Plan Other cities, counties and private sector urged to join effort­exec/­news/­2007/­0207warming.aspx

CAPTION: King County Executive Ron Sims departs for Olympia in a plug-in electric car to testify about global warming legislation.

King County Executive Ron Sims today called on the region to cut greenhouse gas pollution by 80 percent below current levels by 2050. Calling global warming the defining issue of the 21st Century, King County Executive Ron Sims today called on the region to cut greenhouse gas pollution by 80 percent below current levels by 2050, and invest in making our communities resilient to expected loss in drinking water supply, more frequent floods and other impacts.

"Communities that thrive in this new century will be the ones that take action now in response to the growing body of scientific evidence about global warming and its cause," said Sims. "The best way to protect the people, economy and environment of the region is to take specific actions to reduce greenhouse gases and invest the money needed to adapt to less snow in the mountains and more frequent more damaging floods."

Sims laid out his response to climate change with the first King County Climate Plan. Sims called on the region's leaders to work together to create a specific timetable that incrementally reduces emissions to 80 percent below today's levels by the year 2050.

"First we must immediately stop the growth of greenhouse gases. Then we must lay out specific achievable goals for the region," said Sims. "We need to be innovative and committed to aggressively reduce emissions that are changing our climate and threatening our quality of life at every level."

"It is critically important to stabilize the climate, both in the short and long term," said Dennis McLerran, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. "We need to look at what the science is showing us for guidance on what steps are needed to make a long term reduction if we want to preserve our traditional Northwest way of life. Ron's leadership on this issue, especially in an urban county, is moving us in the right direction."

"King County's plan for preparing for climate change is among the most comprehensive in the nation," said Amy Snover, with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington. "Only a handful of leaders in this country have demonstrated the foresight and leadership to prepare their community for the local impacts of global warming. By including consideration of climate change in planning and decision making, King County will be well-placed to minimize the threats and maximize the opportunities associated with warming climate."
The Climate Plan was created by a multi-disciplinary team of county staff under the leadership of the Executive. The plan targets the human activities that are making the global warming crisis worse, such as increasing carbon dioxide levels from vehicles, and increasing dependence on fossil fuels.

The plan calls for cleaner cars and fewer cars as the solution for reducing automobile emissions, which account for more than half the greenhouse gas emissions in the region.

The King County Global Warming Action Plan aggressively targets actions we can take right now to effect change. Among them:

  • Greenhouse Gas Accountability and Limits
  • Climate-Friendly Transportation Choices
  • Clean Fuels, Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency
  • Improved land use, building design and material usage.

Sims also encouraged public and private sector leaders to join him by setting their own climate stabilization goals in an effort to formulate a regional, multi-disciplinary approach that crosses business lines and government boundaries.

"The steps we have outlined are achievable and critically needed as we face an environment that is rapidly deteriorating due to global climate change," said Sims. "We need to use the resources and political will at our disposal to adapt our habits to respond to what the science shows works to stop climate change now, before it's too late."

Governor lays out plan to protect environment, reduce emissions
THE OLYMPIAN­101/­story/­64471.html

Gov. Chris Gregoire issued an executive order Wednesday that sets clear goals for sharply cutting the state's production of greenhouse gases and lowering its fuel imports by 2020.

Environmentalists hailed the move as a big step toward recognizing the effects of global warming, which Gregoire linked to several trends: a 35 percent reduction in snowpack in the Cascades, loss of up to one-third of glacier sizes in the North Cascades, several catastrophic storms in the past year and future flooding if sea levels rise.

"We have all seen the science, and we must increase our efforts to respond," Gregoire said in a statement. She later told a throng gathered in her office that the entire state must get involved.

The goal Gregoire laid out in her executive order is to:

Reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, which is 10 million metric tons less than 2004 levels. Reduce use of foreign oil by 20 percent while boosting use of biofuels. Increase the use of hybrid and electric vehicles that emit fewer or no greenhouse gases. Boost the number of clean-energy related jobs 25,000 by 2020, up from the 8,400 in 2004.

Gregoire's announcement came shortly after a related media event hosted by key Senate Democrats, King County Executive Ron Sims and the environmental movement, calling on the state to set climate-change goals and pass legislation that helps the state do its part in reversing global warming.

Some Republicans and representatives of business interests gave qualified praise to the efforts.

"If you start looking at these issues from a global perspective, I think that's wise," said House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis.

In their separate events, Gregoire and the Senate Democrats both said the state has taken major strides in recent years by passing a "clean car" law in 2005 that requires new cars sold in Washington in 2009 to meet California's higher air standards. They also touted the state's efforts to boost production and use of biodiesel, and Washington's first-in-the-nation standards for environmentally friendly construction and performance.

Fuel-efficient vehicles

Gregoire also touted state efforts to purchase hybrid vehicles, and to retrofit half of the state's school buses and 20 percent of local governments' diesel engine vehicles to burn cleaner.

"If we do it right, we are already 60 percent of the way to our goal in 2020, simply by implementing what we've done," Gregoire said.

Sen. Erik Poulsen, D-West Seattle, is sponsoring legislation that would set targets for lower greenhouse-gas emissions in Washington by 2020, 2035 and 2050.

Poulsen said his bill also sets new standards for natural-gas and coal-fired power plants. Poulsen said the proposal also includes the purchase of at least 100 electric-powered vehicles for state agencies.

But he had no cost figures for his proposal, saying it is "the big unanswered question."

Gregoire's order takes one new major step: It creates a task force representing industry and environmentalists to look for solutions and report back in a year.

"Yes, it's going to shake up our whole economy and way of life," Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said.


Advocates of electric cars joined the day's celebration.

Ron Johnston-Rodriquez, who drove a modified Toyota Prius hybrid, said his commutes to the Port of Wenatchee used to cost him about $50 a month for fuel; now he pays just $3 on the company vehicle.

Robert Babik of General Motors outlined plans for a dozen hybrid vehicles and described a futuristic car, called VOLT, that features 120 mph speeds, room for four passengers, 150 miles per gallon and "plug-ins" for electrical recharges of batteries.

Senate environmental ideas

Senate Republicans countered late Wednesday with some environmental ideas of their own, saying in a news release they want to promote alternative fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, as well as encourage hydropower and nuclear energy.

They listed 19 ideas including:

Funding for alternative fuel research. They cited Washington State University's "Growing Washington" campaign and a Joint Bioenergy Initiative.

Developing multipurpose water storage projects to help fish, control floods and provide water for irrigation.

Promoting hydropower, which doesn't create carbon dioxide, and growth of forests, which can capture carbon.

Promote use of alternative-fuel vehicles by speeding up the dates for tax incentives from 2009.

Plans to combat global warming heat up State, county proposals would curb emissions Seattle Post-Intelligencer Thursday, February 8, 2007 By LISA STIFFLER AND ROBERT McCLURE P-I REPORTERS­local/­302842_warming08.html

After lagging behind in efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Gov. Chris Gregoire and elected state leaders made a dash Wednesday toward catching up with other Western states.

At the same time, King County Executive Ron Sims unveiled an ambitious and detailed plan that he said could jump-start the region's efforts to fight global warming and put the county on a course to eliminate four-fifths of its greenhouse-gas production by midcentury.

"Global warming will be the defining issue for humankind in the 21st century," Sims said. "We must approach this with urgency and determination."

The governor, too, proposed dramatic cuts statewide in the pollutants that scientists blame for warming the planet. She set goals for 2020 of tripling the number of jobs in clean energy and of paring by 20 percent the amount of money spent on fuel imported into Washington.

State lawmakers went even further, additionally proposing stricter standards for new natural gas and coal plants, offering incentives to help utilities invest in conservation technology, proposing buying plug-in hybrid vehicles for state agencies and creating an Office of the State Climatologist, which would advise on the local effects of global warming.

"We need to be bold and decisive," said Rep. Erik Poulsen, a West Seattle Democrat and sponsor of the package of bills.

The announcements -- which followed gloomy projections released last week about the effects of global warming -- caused a practically giddy response from environmentalists, who called the proposals revolutionary.

"The real news is our leaders are now beginning to rise to the challenge in a concerted way and really begin to offer bold, practical, economically attractive solutions to this problem, and that's the turning point we're reaching today," said K.C. Golden, policy director for Climate Solutions, a Northwest non-profit group.

Business interests heard a measured call from Gregoire and said Washington state faces unique challenges because most of its electricity comes from climate-friendly hydropower. That means reductions in planet-heating pollutants must be made in transportation -- a more difficult area to tackle.

"We're certainly encouraged by Governor Gregoire's approach," said Grant Nelson, governmental affairs director for the Association of Washington Business, the overarching business lobby. "Certainly she set some ambitious goals around which, with involvement by all stakeholders, we can have thoughtful and deliberative discussions."

Sims took more aggressive action on Wednesday, laying out a 176-page plan that he said would set the county on a path to reduce greenhouse gas production 80 percent from current levels by 2050.

He promised that this year he will try to orchestrate a regional agreement tying down a deadline for halting the growth of the region's greenhouse gases. The main culprit is carbon dioxide, which is created from the burning of coal, oil and gasoline and traps heat in the Earth's atmosphere.

Sims promised to expand the county's effort to encourage the use of cleaner cars and mass transit. That could be done in part with congestion pricing, which in one form charges more for use of roads when they are at their busiest. Another is "pay-as-you-drive" auto insurance that assesses premiums based on the number of miles driven.

At a news conference in Olympia, Sims even urged Seattle voters to consider voting for neither replacing the aging waterfront viaduct nor building a tunnel to carry traffic. The region needs to think of new ways to tackle transportation issues, he said, that don't center on people driving.

Strategies at the state level are still under development. The governor's plan includes the creation of a stakeholder group to come up with ways to slash greenhouse gases without crippling the economy.

It's not going to be easy -- but those supporting immediate action argue that the solution can mean the creation of new jobs and businesses. They warn that not responding could lead to even greater costs as the region is forced to adapt to higher sea levels, and less snow in the mountains and rivers, harming salmon and reducing energy production at dams.

The proposed laws and Gregoire's executive order
include goals of cutting emissions:
# To 1990 levels by 2020.
# To 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035.
# To 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The state currently produces more than 88 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, with close to half coming from transportation. Reaching the 2020 goal would mean slashing that amount by 10 million metric tons.

"It is going to take everybody in this state pulling to get this done," said Jay Manning, head of the state Ecology Department.

State lawmakers have tackled global warming issues in previous years, including the adoption of California's strict vehicle emission rules, requiring the construction of energy-efficient buildings and requiring that in the future fuel contain at least 2 percent biodiesel and ethanol.

The exact language of the proposed rules should be released later this week. The governor set out her objectives in an executive order Wednesday.

It's not clear how widespread the support is for the new rules. Senate Republicans declined comment, saying they needed more time and information. House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, indicated that support might not come until next year.

Others remained hopeful.

"We think it could pass this year because of the momentum you have in the environmental community galvanized to address his issue and leadership around this state galvanized to address this issue," said Clifford Traisman, lead lobbyist for environmental groups.

"Now is the time to pass some of these actions."

See what a warmer world could mean for Northwesterners: Graphic:­dayart/­20070202/­globalwarmingimpacts.pdf

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