Will Washington State be first in taxing greenhouse gases?

OLYMPIA – Could 2017 be the year Washington emerges as the first state to tax emissions of a greenhouse gas? Barring some unusual turn of events as legislators finalize the state budget here, don’t count on it. But that assessment comes with an asterisk. There are signs that business opposition to the idea is softening. Meanwhile, environmentalists and their allies have made it clear that if the Legislature doesn’t act this spring, they’ll bring to issue to voters next year.

Trump is not the only one cutting Puget Sound funding

President Trump’s proposed $28 million cut of Puget Sound restoration funding has provoked an outcry. But loss of federal funding is not the only cause for concern. State funding, which pays for a much larger share of those restoration costs, also is facing cuts, leaving the fate of Puget Sound restoration funding up in the air.

Legislature poised to cut firefighting budget despite drought threat

As massive flames swirled in the hot, dry winds of July, thousands of people rushed away from their homes in forested areas of Okanogan County in north-central Washington. Escaping through dense smoke, families sought refuge from a firestorm that raged out of control for more than a week, spreading rapidly and eventually consuming more than 400 square miles. As the danger subsided, people went home — except for some 350 families who had no homes left. But many considered themselves lucky to have survived the worst wildfire in Washington state history — to be known forever as the Carleton Complex fire, a merging of several lightning-sparked blazes near the towns of Carlton, Twisp and Winthrop. Nearly a year later, state officials are bracing for a fierce new fire season, with hot, dry conditions they fear will bring new threats to Western Washington as well as Eastern Washington.

Denser cities yield less air pollution than sprawl

A recent study by National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council suggests that urban infill, as opposed to urban sprawl, may result in lower carbon dioxide emissions, reports the Forest Grove News-Times.

The study argues that if Americans chose to build up cities, rather than build out, residents would need to drive less, thus reducing their fossil fuel dependency and decreasing overall CO2 emissions by 1-11 percent by 2050. According to the report,  doubling residential density could lower household driving by 5-12 percent. “Compact development” calls for more centralized businesses too — which means closer-to-home jobs, shopping and activities. The full report also summons the use of alternative modes of transportation in curbing CO2 emissions.

But the committee was at odds over the feasibility of this kind of development, some believing it strays too far from current land-use norms, which favor low-density suburbs. One concern in particular is that state and regional entities would need to have a stronger hand in  controlling development to achieve such results.

With the the transportation sector  accounting for over a quarter of U.S. energy consumption, not to mention a large portion of the country’s CO2 emissions,  cities are realizing they must quickly address growing vehicle travel.

At the national level, a bill was introduced in June, in part, by Washington State’s Jay Inslee (D-WA), titled the National Transportation Objectives Act. H.R.