Washington Green Deal

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to environmental activists Jan. 29 at a rally on the Capitol steps in Olympia. A presidential candidate, Inslee has made climate change his signature issue and supports several bills such as cap-and-trade.

Democrats who run the Washington Legislature are considering bills to tax carbon, cap greenhouse gases, make all electricity renewable, mandate more biofuels in gasoline and diesel, and govern by “environmental justice.”

Washington’s agenda has the twin goals of banishing fossil fuels and funding a bigger government to provide “equitable distribution of benefits” to as-yet undefined “highly impacted communities.”

Supporters say action is overdue on both fronts because global temperatures and sea levels are rising and the poor are least able to adapt. And who can argue with any of that?

This “Evergreen New Deal” will increase the cost of producing, processing and transporting farm and manufactured goods. It will increase the cost of motor fuels and electricity.

But even if fully implemented it will have no impact on the climate. None.

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond admits the state’s effect on the climate is at most infinitesimal. That’s probably generous. Based on state, national and international estimates, Washington contributes less than 0.25% of the world’s greenhouse gases. That puts it behind Ethiopia, a country with an economy about a sixth the size of Washington’s.

But the impacts on Washingtonians will be huge, if not life-changing.

Democrats are pushing for Washington state to meet the Paris climate accord’s goals. That would mean reducing the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions — mainly carbon dioxide — by 81.5% by 2050.

If all the greenhouse gases emitted in Washington by cars, trucks, ships, boats, jetliners, cement plants, aluminum smelters, semiconductor manufacturers, coal- and natural gas-fired power plants and cows went away today, the state would still be emitting too much carbon to meet the Paris goal.

It’s unclear, outside of respiration, what will be left to cut. It’s also unclear how fields will be plowed, or how crops will be planted, harvested, processed and delivered.

If the point of this is to impact the climate — and we’re pretty sure that it is not — its utter lack of impact should be enough to stop it dead in its tracks.

But the second objective of the bills under consideration, what we think is their primary objective, nearly ensures their passage.

Supporters propose a cap-and-trade model that would require manufacturers, electric utilities, natural gas companies and fuel distributors to ramp down greenhouse gases or bid for “allowances.” The auctions would raise $1.23 billion in their first two years and $1.55 billion the following two years, the state estimates.

That’s a lot of money, most of which would eventually be paid by consumers. After the state takes a healthy cut it will be redistributed on the recommendations of an Environmental and Economic Justice Panel in the form of grants for housing, health programs, rural internet and “improved community services.”

When this fails to produce any climate impacts, we suspect additional measures and new revenue sources will be necessary.

More money for government, more money for cronies, zero impact on climate — two out of three ain’t bad for plan supporters. Washingtonians footing the bill might see it differently.

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