Court Thwarts Seattle Climate Power Play

News today that the Washington state supreme court has blocked a scheme by Governor (and erstwhile candidate for climate President) Inslee from taking over the energy industry.  Washington state is a place where leftist progressives live in large numbers in and around Seattle and impose their virtue signalling ideas on the rest of the population who are more skeptical.

This story is also of interest since the maneuver follows the practice of weaponizing environmental law to overthrow society’s dependence on energy from fossil fuels.  For example, NGO lawyers have attacked permits for infrastructure like pipelines by demanding that the assessment also include emissions from end users burning the gas or oil after it has left the pipeline.  In the Washington state case, Inslee tried to put the Department of Ecology in charge of taxing energy used by the transportation industry under the auspices of a Clean Air Act. This was in fact an end run around the defeat of a state carbon tax in the last election.

The story from the Seattle Times is State Supreme Court limits Gov. Inslee’s rule cutting greenhouse-gas emissions  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Washington State Supreme Court has invalidated key portions of a rule imposed by the administration of Gov. Jay Inslee capping greenhouse-gas emissions by fuel distributors, natural-gas companies and other industries.

In a 5-4 ruling Thursday, the court upheld a 2017 lower-court decision that the state Department of Ecology had exceeded its legal authority in trying to apply clean-air standards to “indirect emitters” that don’t directly burn fossil fuels.

“The issue is not whether man-made climate change is real — it is,” wrote Chief Justice Debra Stephens in the majority opinion. However, Stephens wrote, the department’s efforts to enforce the state Clean Air Act went beyond what had been authorized by the law.
[That is a social opinion not a legal one since IPCC suppositions have not yet been litigated.]

“We are confident that if the State of Washington wishes to expand the definition of emission standards to encompass ‘indirect emitters,’ the Legislature will say so. In the meantime. Ecology may not claim more authority than the Legislature has granted in the Act,” Stephens wrote.

The state had projected the rule would reduce emissions by 20 million metric tons by 2035 — about two-thirds of the target established by the Legislature in 2008. But three-quarters of that reduction would have come from applying the regulation to indirect emitters, according to the court ruling.

[The hypocrisy is striking; people who burn gasoline in their cars and trucks are directly responsible for those emissions, not their suppliers.  Energy products are provided in a free society to those who want and can afford to pay for them.  Those who want to live without such energy are also free to make that choice.  But beware, in modern nations like the G20 nearly 90% of energy comes from burning fossil fuels. CO2 zealots want to shut off the supply for everyone else instead of themselves.  Socialism is another name for shared misery]

Figure 12: Figure 9 with Y-scale expanded to 100% and thermal generation included, illustrating the magnitude of the problem the G20 countries still face in decarbonizing their energy sectors.

During a news conference, Inslee said he disagreed with the court majority’s central conclusion but hasn’t yet decided whether to ask lawmakers to amend the Clean Air Act to include indirect emitters.

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, praised the court ruling in a statement calling the clean-air rule “a classic example of government arrogance and overreach.”

A longtime opponent of Inslee’s climate agenda, Ericksen, the ranking Republican member of the state Senate’s environment committee, said the rule would have imposed “onerous new regulations on oil refiners and distributors of natural gas” and passed potentially billions of dollars in costs on to consumers.

Ericksen added he hoped the decision would “quell the enthusiasm of other agencies” to push legal boundaries, citing the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s decision to develop a low-carbon fuel regulation.

Frustrated by legislative inaction, Inslee had directed Ecology in 2015 to use executive authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions.

After a lengthy rule-making process, the state issued regulations in 2016 which would have targeted dozens of top emitters, from Skagit County oil refineries to Boeing’s Everett plant and Eastern Washington food processors. The rule required such facilities to cut their carbon footprint by an average of 1.7% a year — either by cleaning up their own facilities or paying for carbon-reduction projects off-site.

But the rule was quickly challenged in a lawsuit by business groups led by the Association of Washington Business. The association’s president, Kris Johnson, said in a statement he welcomed the court’s ruling and intends to work with lawmakers “to find a bipartisan solution” to reduce the state’s carbon emissions.

A trade association for paper mills said its members remain concerned about the effects of even a more limited version of the clean-air rule.


  1. Hifast · January 18, 2020

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


  2. Bob Webster · January 18, 2020

    Let the other countries set policy based on ignorance and acceptance of a specious theory that flies in the face of evidence. This will only make the US economy stronger as we soar ahead of nations run by politicians on a fool’s errand. All their “carbon mitigation” work will come to naught… because REAL science demonstrates that at current levels, the capacity of atmospheric CO2 to impact climate is negligible. So why restrict CO2 emissions?


  3. Bob Webster · January 18, 2020

    From the commentary:

    “The issue is not whether man-made climate change is real — it is,” wrote Chief Justice Debra Stephens in the majority opinion.

    The Chief Justice made the right decision, but for the wrong reason.

    The danger from climate change always exists, but there is no evidence in the records to support the claim that human activity has any capacity to alter global climate.

    The past 500 million years of geologic evidence, the past 800,000 years of ice core evidence, and the contemporary records since 1880, all testify to no relationship between atmospheric CO2 change and climate change beyond pure chance. A flip of a coin is a better projector of climate change based on CO2 change than the entire costly array of climate simulation models (CMIP5) who notoriously over-project global average surface temperatures.

    No meaningful timeframe over the past 500 million years shows that changing atmospheric CO2 is correlated with changing global average surface temperatures. No correlation means no causation is possible. Therefore, according to the best available evidence maintained by US government agencies, no theory that links climate change to any human activity that increases atmospheric CO2 has any validity.

    Fossil fuels have no impact whatsoever on global climate.

    The Chief Justice is merely parroting the climate change narrative promoted by the IPCC, a UN agency created to investigate the consequences of “human-induced climate change” not challenge it (as good scientists should).

    Human-caused climate change is the greatest scientific hoax of all time.


    • Ron Clutz · January 18, 2020

      Thanks for that comment Bob. It is remarkable that legal minds are so deferential and uncurious about the weak scientific case for global warming/climate change. The legal framework prevented a monstrous ruling here, but only by one vote. Woe to any jurisdiction that passed legislation setting emissions targets. They won’t have a leg to stand on when the climate lawyers come for them.


  4. oiltranslator · January 19, 2020

    That’s obviously a 1977 Lisa cartoon but it’s dated 2019! What’s the deal?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s