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The Evergreen State in more than name

Seattle Times

NO more good intentions. Washington state is committed to a purposeful response to climate change.

NO more good intentions. Washington state is committed to a purposeful response to climate change.

The Legislature has bravely and aggressively moved down a path to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, pare back vehicle miles traveled and prepare for the employment opportunities of an environmentally-attuned economy. Passage of House Bill 2815 takes the goals outlined a year ago by Gov. Christine Gregoire and transforms them into an action plan. As captured in the title of a report by her Climate Advisory Team, the state is leading the way.

Key state agencies will report back to the Legislature by December with the tools and best practices to help everyone get started and make progress.

Directions from lawmakers make it plain they view climate change as real, and they want a sharp shift from goals to substantive public policy.

As legislative analysis noted, "reporting requirements are a good first step for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the details on reporting need to be clear." Establishing a benchmark to measure future progress is basic. So is the spirit of creating requirements that can be understood and embraced by the public. Do not skimp on brainpower and creativity in making it easy to comply.

At least half of the challenge from greenhouse-gas emissions is tied up in the phrase "vehicle miles traveled." Reducing emissions is a mix of driving less and creating smart transportation incentives and alternatives.

The stick of tolls, congestion pricing and creative limits on parking supply needs to be matched with the carrots of more transit options and broader availability of plug-in technology for hybrid cars. All are anticipated, along with licensing and insurance regulations linked to miles driven and vehicle weight.

The law emits a laser focus on so-called green-collar jobs, with an eye toward training, access and incentives for employment retooled to a green-built economy.

Through all of the rule-making and policy-drafting, Gregoire and lawmakers need to be sensitive to the allies they have in industry, business and commerce. Give them incentives and a clear understanding that they can do well by doing good. There is money and environmental progress to be made in smart, manageable climate-change policy.

In the absence of federal environmental leadership and action, the states must lead. Washington has stepped up admirably.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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