On June 1, 2016, the Governors of Washington, Oregon and California joined British Columbia’s Environment Minister and representatives from six West Coast cities, in the Borgia Room of San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel, to sign what history may show was a key milestone in the struggle to mount a concerted defence against the ravages of global temperature rise. The 2016 Pacific Coast Climate Leadership Action Plan has a strong emphasis on issues like ocean acidification; the integration of clean energy into the power grid; “support for efforts by the insurance industry and regulatory system to highlight the economic costs of climate change; and so-called “super pollutants” (also known as short-lived climate pollutants).” This sounds good, but do the Pacific Coast’s “Climate Leaders” mean business?
It has been nine months since the Governments of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia embarked upon a shared initiative. In their joint press release, group spokesperson Governor Kate Brown explained “The West Coast Electric Fleets initiative leads the way in helping fleets scale up zero-emission vehicles to reach our goal that, by 2016, 10 percent of all new purchases are electric vehicles.” How is the West Coast Electric Fleets Initiative Doing?
Seattle’s new bridge is being heralded as the largest and greenest transportation investment in Washington state’s history. Governor Jay Inslee cut the ribbon. More than 12,000 people participated in a 10K run/walk from Husky Stadium to the 1.5-mile-long structure and back. Then 7,000 bicyclists closed the opening celebration with a 20-mile “Emerald City Bike Ride” across the bridge and through car-free downtown Seattle streets. The World’s longest floating bridge opens to foot traffic.
According to Washington’s Department of Ecology, a third of that state’s “waters are too polluted to meet state water quality standards. More than 60 percent of water pollution comes from things like cars leaking oil, fertilizers and pesticides from farms and gardens, failing septic tanks, pet waste and fuel spills from recreational boaters.” An online tool called “How’s your Waterway?” enabled me to go exploring Washington’s polluted waterways with the EPA.