State needs to completely rethink its environmental policy

sources wisely.

By focusing on the latest eco-fad rather than good science, we waste opportunities to effectively help the environment.

Washington Policy Center (WPC) again recommends passage of an “Environmental Priorities Act,” which creates a panel of scientists, economists and innovators to ensure we get the most bang for our environmental dollars.

Pioneered by Nobel-winning economists, the approach distinguishes the trendy from the truly sustainable.

Second, we need to hold the state accountable for results.

The “Climate Change Accountability Act” would require companies that profit from state spending to prove they delivered on their energy-reduction promises.

If they fall short, they would be required to refund taxpayer money or provide environmental services.

Third, we need to replace our heavily bureaucratic approach with one that is more innovative and nimble.

Discussing “green” building regulations, Seattle City Councilwoman Sally Clark admitted earlier this year that, “Most (regulatory) systems are not built for innovation.”

Yet those failed systems are where environmental activists turn for virtually every proposal.

This leads to humorous, but unacceptable, results.

When asked to explain its “Low-Carbon Fuel Standard” that would dictate what fuels we can buy, a Department of Ecology official could only tell the Legislature, “It’s complicated.”

Murky and incomprehensible approaches lead us down false paths and restrict the creativity necessary to find innovative solutions.

While state “experts” claim to understand how these complex regulations will work, the real-world result shows the opposite.

Research reveals that growth management laws have actually encouraged some sprawl, increasing the environmental impacts they are supposed to limit.

We are again asking the state to do a complete assessment of these laws to determine where they are going wrong in order to place us on a better path.

We need to replace opaque, obscure and political rules with simple prices on pollution.

The free market allows us the freedom to choose our lifestyle.

With that freedom comes the responsibility to pay for impacts, if they occur.

Simple and transparent prices on pollution are more effective, and far cheaper, than creating entrenched bureaucracies imposing rules only they understand.

We should also encourage innovation by reducing the cost of developing new technology by cutting taxes on innovation.

That’s why we advocate a climate strategy that replaces the state’s anti-innovation patchwork of regulations and subsidies with tax cuts to encourage creativity, jobs and economic growth.

Setting priorities. Making sure we get what we pay for.

Replacing regulation with innovation.

That is a real strategy for the environment, one that is effective and recognizes the new economic and budget realities we face.

Todd Myers is the environmental director with Washington Policy Center.

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