more money, but no environmental benefit »Publications» Washington Policy Center

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This morning, Governor Inslee announced his latest climate proposals for the 2022 legislative session.

Despite the proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in additional spending, none of the governor’s proposals today will reduce additional CO2 emissions. Every policy – from the solar panel subsidy to the electric vehicle subsidy – duplicates an existing policy. They are expensive but add nothing. Additionally, the creation of a new office to take responsibility for CO2 reductions is ironic given that the existing program to do so – Results Washington – wiped the metrics from their webpage when targets were missed in 2019 and have not replaced them.

Here are some details on the shortcomings of this new proposal.

  • Washington state already has at least three policies to subsidize electric vehicles – the low-carbon fuel standard, the cap-and-trade system, and existing subsidies for electric vehicles. There are also federal grants. Yet one more subsidy only spends more money but does little or nothing to reduce emissions.
  • EV grants are available for cars up to $ 55,000, which is the MSRP for a Mercedes E-Class.
  • Washington’s electricity must already be 100% renewable by 2030. The proposal to spend $ 100 million on solar panels adds nothing to that goal, except cost. Since Washington’s emissions are already virtually 100% renewable, solar panels would simply replace CO2-free energy – doing nothing to reduce emissions.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory ranks Washington, particularly western Washington, as one of the worst states in the country for solar power potential. Of all the potential areas to be subsidized, solar panels have perhaps the worst potential for reducing CO2 emissions.
  • Natural gas for home heating is already covered by the new carbon cap and trade tax. Additional restrictions target only the same sector without changing the total emission reductions.
  • The governor proposes the creation of a “climate engagement accountability” that “would implement a two-year strategic climate work plan with performance milestones and accountability measures”. Ironically, it already exists. Results Washington was created to provide exactly this role of measurement and accountability. When the state missed all of its targets in 2019, the governor’s office cleaned up the web page of those failed targets and three years later there are still no measures to replace the old ones. There is no reason for the new office to be any different from the previous failed effort.

In 2013, Governor Inslee said his administration would prioritize efforts based on “effectiveness in meeting emission reduction targets, including cost per tonne of emission reduction.” These new proposals fall short of this standard and are extremely expensive although they do little to reduce emissions.

The reason Washington still hasn’t met its CO2 emissions targets is that we measure policy by dollars spent, not results. A serious approach to climate change requires Washington to prioritize based on efficiency, promoting innovation developed in the marketplace rather than by politicians

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