Newly elected state Sen. Pramila Jaypal, a Democrat, joined the chorus of those on the far-left who are employing the talking points of extreme “green” organizations to criticize the bi-partisan transportation package recently passed by the Senate. In a Crosscut op-ed piece, Jaypal claims that the transportation package “imperials the health of Washington state residents.”
What in the transportation package warrants this extreme declaration? As Shift reported, Democrats like Jaypal are not happy with the fact that the transportation package places a safeguard against Jay Inslee’s use of an executive order to force through his fuel mandate. Effectively, that means Inslee must seek legislative approval for his fuel mandate scheme.
Jaypal bases her extreme claim on the assumption that a fuel mandate would “make a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions and air pollution,” which in turn improves overall health. As the Washington Policy Center’s Todd Myers points out, a fuel mandate isn’t all that effective. By the state’s own estimations, a fuel mandate would “make no meaningful difference in air pollution or human health.”
Jaypal supports her claim by citing a study that determined “communities of color breathe in nearly 40 percent more polluted air.” She specifically identifies NO2. However, Jaypal’s analysis falls embarrassingly short.
“According to the state’s own analysis:
- NO2 would be reduced by a maximum of one percent in 2026.
- Under most scenarios, particulate matter (PM2.5), another pollutant of concern, would be reduced by a maximum of one-half of one percent (0.5%), ten years from now.
- An LCFS would reduce Washington’s carbon emissions by about 2.5 percent by 2026. During the decade from 2016-2026, it would reduce emissions by less than two percent.
“In other words, the most optimistic projections show air quality changes that are meaningless in terms of human health. An LCFS simply is not a meaningful policy to reduce air pollution and improve human health. To achieve these small benefits, the Office of Financial Management estimates it would cost Washington consumers $140 million dollars in 2026 alone. This estimate is based on the projection of 1.75 billion gallons sold in Washington in 2026 at 8 cents per gallon. That cost is probably low, as we have argued, and does not account for non-biofuel costs, such as hydrogen and electric infrastructure, to meet the requirements.
“Further, the small reductions from an LCFS would fall far short of the CO2 reduction targets Governor Inslee says are legally mandated.
“For both carbon emissions and air pollution, an LCFS is a marginal policy at best.”
Jaypal also makes the claim that the transportation package’s safeguard against a fuel mandate would tie “the hands of this state to reduce carbon emissions for the sixteen years that the package is in effect.” That is also an extreme, highly exaggerated claim. As Myers points out, the safeguard does not tie the hands of the state—the Legislature would still have the power to act in the future. It does, however, tie the hands of the governor by preventing action that bypasses the legislative process.
More, the state is left with multiple—far more effective—solutions to reduce the impact of air pollution and reduce asthma rates. Myers,
“The top air pollution concern in Washington is related to particulate matter from wood burning stoves in Pierce County. There is a great program to help low-income families with wood burning stoves, replace those stoves with cleaner alternatives. Additional support for this program would have a positive impact on air quality.
“Three years ago, The Seattle Times identified a program to improve indoor air quality to reduce asthma rates. The results are very positive. As the Times noted, “Two years ago, Abraham’s room had carpeting and a filthy furnace collecting dust, which sometimes riled up his asthma. Now, without the carpet and outdated furnace, the soon-to-be seventh-grader at Chinook Middle School in SeaTac doesn’t say he has asthma, because it hasn’t bothered him in a year.”
“Those simple things would have a far more positive impact on air quality (outdoor and indoor) and asthma rate than an LCFS, even in the best case.”
Democrats like Jaypal are making excuses—and rather poor ones at that—for their opposition to a much needed state transportation package. As Myers concludes, “Legislators who want to put the transportation package at risk for an LCFS that would provide tiny environmental benefits at a cost of at least $140 million a year, need to explain why that tradeoff makes sense.”