What Do Donald Trump, The Sightline Institute, Sierra Club of Washington and Columbia River Keeper Have in Common?

like_trumpThey All Want You to Ignore Recent Studies on Climate Change…

An important new study on Climate Change was released last week by multiple agencies of the Federal Government. The study concludes, again, that the world’s temperatures are rising and that human activity is a significant cause. 

So, did President Donald Trump embrace the science? The newly released study?


“I don’t believe it.” was all he said. He placed his uninformed opinion above the competent researchers that produced the report. 

This nonsense only happens on the Right, right? Wrong. Here in Washington State, environmental activists are doing the same thing.

Two weeks ago, an independent and thorough study was released that shows building a proposed methanol plant in Kalama, Washington will reduce Global Greenhouse Gases by as much as is produced by 89% of all private cars on Washington State Roads.

The response from The Sightline Institute, Sierra Club Washington and The Columbia River keepers? 

“Ignore the study!” (See here, for one example)

Wow. We on the Left can be as daft as the Right.

Some Background…

In September 2016, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released for a Methanol Production Plant proposed to be built in Kalama. The report made claims that building the plant would have net-positive effects on Global Greenhouse Gases (GHG). Specifically, that by building this plant & shipping methanol to China, that methanol would replace coal in Chinese production processes, resulting in a significant reduction of GHG. Or said more succinctly, using methanol for producing products in China is significantly cleaner than the coal that China currently uses.

More Research!!!

Activists, however, were not satisfied that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement provided enough research into the overall affects of building the plant. 

Specifically, opponents, including Sightline Institute and Columbia River Keepers, wanted the State to consider not only the impacts of building the plant within Washington State, they wanted a more thorough study on both the upstream (the GHG that is produced in fracking the natural gas that the Kalama Plant would use) and the downstream (the GHG produced in transporting and burning the methanol in China).

Fair enough. I agree with them! We need to understand the entire lifecycle of the projects we build. 

To that end, the Shoreline Hearings Board put the project permits on hold, and in May of this year, Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning (that name!) ordered exactly that, saying that the environmental review was inadequate & that a full lifecycle analysis had to be done.

Chop! Chop!

Behold! A Study!

So what happened? Well…as the Hearings Board, the Judge (Warning!), and environmentalists asked, a study WAS done. And not a small study, but a comprehensive cradle-to-grave lifecycle analysis of the entire project. 

In other words, the opponents got exactly what they asked for…and guess what? The study answered and refuted not some, but most of their concerns.

The study concluded not only that building the plant would reduce the Global Greenhouse Gases by a little…it would reduce them by a lot! 

Building the methanol plant at Kalama, according to the commissioned study, will reduce GHG by 11.5 million metric tons per year. That’s just a number…so how much is 11.5 million metric tons? It’s the equivalent of removing 89% of all privately owned cars from Washington State Roads.

Think how much work we do to try to improve transportation…and then realize that in one act, we could remove 89% of the negative impact of those cars. Now.

Environmentalists Are Satisfied! Right? Right?

The critics raised serious and important questions that needed to be answered. And they won! They forced the independent study! And the most important questions they were asking have now been answered.

You’d expect them to be satisfied, to move from being skeptics to supporters, right? After all, this project represents the single-largest reduction of GHG that Washington State will have ever undertaken. That’s a win! Right?

In my 25 years in political activism, I’ve learned one important truth: activists are rarely happy.

Many are so identified with their opposition to a thing that they can’t recognize when they’ve won an important battle. And that’s what has happened here. Sightline, The Sierra Club and the Columbia River Keepers won an important battle. And they’re still not happy.

Trump Wants Coal. Environmentalists Want Coal Too?

Trump has been busy trying to prop-up and revive the coal industry. And here again, we find a parallel with Sightline, Sierra Club and Columbia River Keepers.

These enviros are screaming “Fracked Gas!” as though they are telling you the whole story. They are not. Their complaints are short-sighted and disingenuous. Why? Because “fracked gas!” is only one side of the equation. The other side? Dirtier Coal.

By opposing the plant in Kalama, these environmentalists are propping up the coal industry in China. They are arguing that instead of taking this opportunity to displace coal, we should maintain the status quo. Do nothing. Allow China to simply proceed as normal. In other words, burn more and more coal.

The methanol produced in Kalama will replace a much dirtier fuel. So while we can all agree that fracked natural gas and fossil fuels are not a long-term solution to climate change, we should also be able to agree that taking strong steps to reduce the dirtiest sources of pollution should be a top priority. The methanol plant at Kalama does exactly that. In a big way.

But, don’t just take my word for it

Read the report!

Hey Enviros! We need a WIN! 

Click Image to Read the Port & County Sponsored DSEIS Report

Read the Port & County Sponsored DSEIS Report

…and it’s Right In Front of Us

Support The Kalama Methanol Plant. Reduce Global Greenhouse Gases by 11.5 Million Metric Tons per year.

Washington State Enviros continue to collect losses. Losing has become a habit.

Over the past three years, a State Carbon Tax has been defeated three times: Initiative 732 lost 60-40% in 2016. Governor Inslee, despite having a Democratically controlled Senate, couldn’t pass Senate Bill 6302 in 2017. And now, Initiative 1631 was soundly defeated 57-43% this month. Ouch.

In my 25 years working electoral politics in Washington State, I’ve learned an important lesson: Losing is NOT Winning. That may sound obvious, but many so-called environmental activists simply do not understand this. They’ll lose, year after year, and declare in some tortured way that the loss was actually a victory.

Let’s Remove 89% of the Cars from Washington Roads, beginning RIGHT NOW!

Fortunately, Washington’s Environmental Activists have the opportunity score a huge victory for the reduction of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. It’s ready for them to push over the top, and to declare an easy and significant victory. Oddly, however, they are opposed to this effort.

Northwest Innovation Works is close to receiving final approval to build a $2 billion Methanol Plant at the Port of Kalama in Cowlitz County. They just received a stunning report that was overseen by the Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County, the lead agencies for the State’s Environmental Review.

The Study outlines that by building the plant, global greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 11.5 Million Metric Tons per year.

How big a number is this? It is the equivalent of removing 89% of the cars on Washington’s roads. Right now. In the immediate future. 

Think of the effort we all go through to improve our transportation system, in designing and building and buying electric cars. In building bike lanes and encouraging broad adoption of cleaner commutes.

The Kalama Methanol Plant would represent the largest single-effort reduction of Greenhouse Gases in the History of Washington State. 

How does this work? How is building a Methanol plant going to reduce global emissions? The methanol will be produced using the tightly regulated natural gas coming from British Columbia. From there, it will be shipped to China, replacing a significant portion of Coal that is used to produce Methanol there. The offset will reduce global emissions by 11.5 million metric tons of CO2. 

That is a stunning number. And would represent the largest single-effort reduction of Greenhouse Gases in the History of Washington State. 

Environmentalists Can’t Get Out of Their Own Way

Yet…many of the leading environmental agencies and activists in Washington State can’t find their way to taking the win that’s right in front of them. The plant is opposed by the Sierra Club, Sightline Institute and the Colombia River Keepers. Their opposition makes little sense.

Primarily, they oppose the plant because they oppose the production of British Columbia Natural Gas. They use the word “fracked” to drum up their point, overlooking several key factors:

  1. The British Columbia Natural Gas Market is among the most tightly regulated markets in the world. 
  2. China’s Coal Production and Burning are among the least tightly regulated markets in the world. 
  3. If China doesn’t have a cheaper, cleaner source of fuels, they will continue to burn Coal.

Don’t Let the Good be the Enemy of the Perfect

So, instead of focusing on the staggering reduction of GHG available to us right now, many enviros prefer that China continue to burn coal. Loss after loss after loss. As I said before, it’s become an environmental habit.

Take the win. Let us all win. And let us move forward together.

Gay Rights and Right-wing Wrongs

Right-wing histrionics blog Sound Politics continues its never-ending screed against all things not-republican…but in particular, I want to point out the potential hypocrisy of their rants against the new gay rights legislation passed in Washington State.

The new law adds “sexual orientation” to the list of protected classes that can’t be discriminated against in areas such as employment and housing. So, I’d like to send out a bit of a challenge to those opposed to making sexual orientation a protected class: for all of your arguments, substitute “religion” and see how well they hold. If you don’t experience the same outrage or discomfort with the law, then you’re likely a hypocrite, and probably a bigot.

Now, to be sure, there are those who will answer that they don’t believe that there should be any laws creating protected classes. Fine. I can respect such a position from a libertarian viewpoint, though I think the position a bit naive. If that is your argument, then why focus on the issue of sexual orientation and gay rights at all? Shouldn’t you, in the same breath with which you decry this right, decry the granted right of religionists to be free from discrimination as well? And, if that is your position, then your arguments fail when you go on to rant against any and all things homosexual, because your argument is not about the class of identified homosexuals at all, but based in a hands-off approach to government, which ironically, would put you more squarely in the camp of allowing homosexuals the freedom to live as they choose.

Just a small test to determine consistency…

Manufacturing Votes in King County?

As Republicans are trying any and every argument that they can create to help salve their pain of losing the race for Governor, they seem to keep landing on the idea that the big, bad and corrupt King County Elections Division just kept “finding votes,” padding the totals, until finally, they had enough to “coronate” Christine Gregoire as Governor.

Listening to this screed all day made me wonder: Did King County add more votes to their final tally than did other counties? If I just accept the wailing from Republicans, I’d be left with the impression that King County must have, by magnitudes, found more votes than any other county.

Well…I decided to run the numbers. And guess what? King County wasn’t the lead vote finder. Nor were they second. Or third. Or even fourth, fifth or sixth. Nope. The top six counties to add votes to their final tallies were counties that Dino Rossi won.

King County tied for 7th place in percentage of total votes added to their final tally. Here are the top 10 Counties, listed in order of percentage of votes added to the final tally compared to the original count in each of these counties:

County First Count Third Count Difference % Difference
1 Adams 5,055 5,091 36 0.71%
2 Walla Walla 22,563 22,676 113 0.50%
3 Pierce 309,630 310,591 961 0.31%
4 Kittitas 15,922 15,969 47 0.30%
5 Skagit 51,590 51,733 143 0.28%
6 Grant 25,719 25,787 68 0.26%
7 King 874,928 876,452 1,524 0.17%
8 Asotin 8,622 8,637 15 0.17%
9 Franklin 15,812 15,838 26 0.16%
10 Pend Oreille 6,104 6,114 10 0.16%

If the Republicans have evidence of fraud, then let them make their case. But, if they don’t, then this not-so-veiled charge of fraud should cease.

King County was not manufacturing votes. The votes that the Republicans are clamoring about were legitimately cast, legal votes. To argue that King County should not have counted them is odd in a democratic election where legal votes are ALL that matters.

Is that what we’ve come to? In an effort to win at any cost, the Republicans are going to argue that King County shouldn’t have counted legal votes?