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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Climate change

The missing link in the debate

Washington state excels in taking on the challenges of climate change [“Positioning Washington for climate leadership,” Opinion, Gov. Chris Gregoire commentary, April 7]. Our Legislature has reflected this sentiment in a number of bills being looked at this session. Proposals include a statewide cap-and-trade program (SB 5735) and provisions for small wind energy (SB 1008).

However, there is a missing link that we fail to recognize, one that our state rule makers have neglected to discover appropriate solutions to: the impacts of creeping sprawl upon our rural landscapes.

Nothing is more necessary than equipping local government planners with tools to evaluate the impacts of this kind of development. The current environmental rules were written long before “climate change” was on the lips of the masses and sea-level rise was being considered.

Tools are needed now to calculate the carbon footprint of development and to offset the impacts. Pilot projects (which the state has proposed) may not be enough. A new, comprehensive approach is needed if we hope to combat what the Environmental Protection Agency is now calling a “danger to public health and welfare.”

The missing link is not at the governor’s office, nor in our individual lifestyle choices, but the unsustainable practices found at our city and county governments.

— Ryan Hughes, Seattle

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