Friday, May 22, 2009

Chris Gregoire asks Legislature then goes around it

She supported a bill for cap and trade. The Legislature didn't pass it so she found she didn't need legislative approval; she can dictate Washington participation. What made the Governor suddenly realize that that legislative support she had sought for a strong climate-action bill was not necessary? In case democracy doesn't work - Washington Policy Blog:
The Environmental Protection Agency is in Seattle today to hear testimony on their effort to regulate carbon emissions to mitigate the impact of climate change. One theme is emerging in government efforts on this issue -- don't leave legislation to legislators. This was put bluntly by a professor from Yale in today's Seattle Times. "In effect, the prospect of EPA regulation is a bulwark against Congress falling down on the job," said Dan Esty, a Yale University environmental professor. The philosophy expressed here is that constitutional checks and balances from elected representatives are useful only to the extent Congress does what is "right." Otherwise, the executive needs to step in and do whatever is necessary, other branches of government, and public opinion, notwithstanding. That general philosophy was put into action today in Washington when the Governor, who previously argued that the legislature must endorse her climate change legislation, suddenly realized that legislative approval was not needed. The Democratic majority in the legislature rejected the Governor's bill. As a result, she today announced an executive order that mirrored many of the elements of the bill lawmakers turned down. Here is the intent language of HB 1819, which failed to clear the House. NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature finds that Washington should maintain its leadership on climate change policy by implementing a cap on carbon emissions and developing strategies to achieve those reductions, including continuing Washington's participation in the design of a regional cap-and-trade program with the western climate initiative. Here is the language included in the Governor's executive order today. The Governor ordered: The Director of the Department of Ecology to: (a) Continue to participate in the Western Climate Initiative to develop a regional greenhouse gas emission reduction program and to work with the federal Administration, Washington’s congressional delegation and appropriate committees to help design a national greenhouse gas emission reduction program that reflects Washington State priorities. The Governor herself testified before the legislature in an effort to get support for the above language. The bill, despite that effort, died. In an opinion piece in April, the Governor wrote "Now we need a strong climate action bill from this year's Legislature to grasp the opportunities that await us." The question is, what made the Governor suddenly realize that that legislative support she had sought for a strong climate action bill was no longer necessary?

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