Gas tax would aid economy, fund state programs

Published in The News Tribune, October 9, 2011

After what now seems like a thankfully long respite – four months was it? – state budget cuts are once again on the table.  And it’s the same old story.

The state’s chief economist Arun Raha once again erred on the side of optimism.  In truth, it’s more accurate to say that he was not pessimistic enough – no one dares be optimistic these days.  At any rate, the state budget is once again short — this time it is predicted to have $1.4 billion fewer revenues than when Raha last peered into his crystal ball. So back to the drawing board.  Back to negotiating more budget cuts. Continue reading

The case for energy taxes is even stronger now

Published in The News Tribune, March 30, 2011

Like many others, until recently I was a reluctant fan of nuclear energy.   I’d become convinced that it was a safe way of producing electricity.  The fact that one ton of uranium can be used to replace the burning of 16,000 tons of coal or 80,000 barrels of oil is still a strong selling point.    Yet that a nuclear disaster of the magnitude Japan is now facing could happen — in Japan of all places –is surely putting nuclear power’s future on ice.

This reduces the options for meeting our energy needs down to essentially three choices, one of which would be the far better one. Continue reading

Climate change likely to be costly for Washington residents

Written with Peter Dorman and Hart Hodges for The Olympian, March 12, 2009

Most people would not be very happy if they had to devote a bigger chunk of their household income every year to a problem that could have been mitigated years earlier for a fraction of the cost. Yet, that scenario seems likely if the global society fails to adopt policies to reduce emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases.

A number of bills have been introduced in the current legislative session intended to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. These bills have, understandably, resulted in heated discussion about whether it is better to act now to mitigate the impacts of climate change or to respond to the changes later. Continue reading

State should respond to climate changes now, not later

Published with Karin Sable in The News Tribune, Jan 23, 2007

When our new legislature convenes in Olympia this month, Washington’s lawmakers will tackle tough policy issues on energy, education, environmental quality, health care, and stewardship of the state’s natural resources.  We hope they will choose to prioritize planning for climate change.  This particular issue stands to have widespread ramifications for state policy, including those affecting the economy, the environment and the safety of our communities.

Among their briefing books and background papers, legislators will find a new study titled “Impacts of Climate Change on Washington’s Economy.” Continue reading