AN ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT TO THE WASHINGTON POST
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2012
LEADERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS CHANGING CLIMATE
Many cities are implementing programs to adapt to climate change, writes Don Knapp from ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA. PAGE 2
RECOGNITION FOR GREEN INITIATIVES
Zoe Tcholak-Antitch of the Carbon Disclosure Project explains how incorporating green practices into a company’s overall strategy makes good business sense. PAGE 4
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Entering a Clean Energy Future
William D. Ruckelshaus First Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Chris Gregoire Governor of the state of Washington NOT LONG AGO, THE IDEA of a “clean energy future” was relatively unknown and considered unrealistic. Today there is almost universal recognition that, for the sake of the environment and national security, we must redeﬁne how we power our cities, states and countries. In the state of Washington, we already are well down the road: Our clean energy future is taking shape on highways, in homes, in businesses and factories, on farms and in research institutions. Creating a new energy future, especially in these tough times, is a challenging and complex responsibility. But it’s one that we must undertake if we are to shape the future we want and need. It’s about more than a clean and healthy environment, which is a hallmark of the Paciﬁc Northwest. It’s about supporting our economy well into the future, replacing a diminishing energy supply and taking care of the coming generations. Here in Washington, we have more than 400 clean energy technology companies of all sizes, and these businesses are creating jobs and driving growth. For example, Inland Empire Oil Seeds, based in Odessa, Wash., is one of the largest biodiesel producers in the country. The company formed when 1,400 family farms brought their money and land together, received a little help from the state and began growing and reﬁning canola seed. Now the business sells biodiesel both inside and outside the state.
Attack Pollution Problems, Not the EPA
Electric cars, such as the one pictured above, soon will be able to travel and recharge along the country’s ﬁrst electric highway, being built in the state of Washington.
In 2007, we set a goal that Washington would have 25,000 green jobs by 2020. When we announced that goal, I was told “not possible.” Today our state has 100,000 green jobs. It is 10 years ahead of schedule, and we’ve already quadrupled our goal! Workers in these jobs range from computer software engineers for the smart grid to power line workers, from green building architects to weatherization technicians and from bioenergy venture capitalists to oilseed farmers. Because of innovators in my state, people someday will take for granted things like making energy from algae, living in homes that create more energy than they use or driving cars that are made mostly with carbon ﬁber and need no gasoline. Washington is bustling with
solar energy initiatives. Currently, the largest solar power plant in North America is permitted for construction near Cle Elum, Wash. Also, Moses Lake is home to REC Silicon, one of the world’s largest production facilities for material used in solar panels. Washington produced virtually no wind power in 2001. Today we are among the largest producers of wind power in the United States. Our ports keep busy unloading wind turbines to generate power for homes and businesses. We are building the ﬁrst electric highway in the country. Soon it will be possible to drive from Canada to Oregon — 276 miles — and never need a single drop of gas. With recharging stations positioned along our interstate highway, our state will welcome more than 300,000 electric cars to our roads in the
next decade. No business is coming out of this recession the same as it was going in, and the same is true for our state and our workforce. We must thoughtfully plan for our growth. We must identify what long-term economic trends we will tap. For Washington, the transition to clean energy is a natural ﬁt. The president’s Council of Economic Advisers has predicted clean energy and environmental protection jobs will grow by more than 50 percent over the next six years. That’s nearly four times the rate of all other job ﬁelds. I was convinced of this a long time ago. In Washington state, we have joined the clean energy revolution: We are creating jobs, spurring business innovation, supporting a cleaner environment and building energy independence.
PROGRESS ON CLEANING up air and water will only stop if we do. Forty-two years ago, Congress passed the modern Clean Air Act and, two years later, the modern Clean Water Act. Both laws were passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. In fact, in 1970 the Clean Air Act passed the Senate 73-0 and the House 374-1. The problems that led to their passage were widespread, visible and unacceptable to the American people. Waterways and air sheds all over America are appreciably cleaner than they were forty years ago. In the last 30 years, lead emissions — a serious health threat — have been cut 97 percent, sulfur dioxide by almost 70 percent, volatile organics by 63 percent and poisonous carbon monoxide by over 70 percent. In the last 20 years, emissions of ﬁne particles — a major cause of respiratory problems — have been cut by 55 percent. We also have an impressive record in water. Lake Erie now supports a $600 million ﬁshery,
“…EPA is a victim of its own success. The health and environmental risks we face today almost are invisible compared to the problems that drove the creation of EPA over 40 years ago.” - William D. Ruckelshaus
William D. Ruckelshaus, First Administrator of the U.S. EPA. (Photo courtesy of William D. Ruckelshaus.)
and over half of all our lakes are now in good condition, sharply up from where we started. Granted, speciﬁc water resources, such as coastal areas and small streams and rivers, are still in trouble, but progress is impressive. In the 1960s, the public demanded that something be done about pollution that was threatening their health and the natural world. The president and Congress responded, and many of the problems that led to the public outcry have been brought under social control. That’s the way our system is supposed to work. The public identiﬁes a problem and the government responds. If these laws have worked, why are Republican presidential candidates and their congressional counterparts calling for the severe curtailment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) powers or even the agency’s abolition? To a certain extent, EPA is a victim of its own success. The health and environmental risks we face today almost are invisible compared to the problems that drove the creation CONTINUES ON NEXT PAGE
Keep the Change, Bring Your Bag, Fight Litter Roger Berliner President of the Montgomery County (Md.) Council BY ENCOURAGING REUSABLE bags, Montgomery County, Md., is at the forefront of a growing number of communities working to reduce the litter that pollutes our streams. As of Jan. 1, 2012, the county requires a 5-cent fee on all plastic and paper bags. This avoidable charge is intended to be a “nudge” to help us change our bad habits, including my own. Our county does not want the money — we want people to save their money by helping to save our streams. Bring a bag with you, and you don’t pay 5 cents. The experience of other jurisdictions is signiﬁcant in assessing the merits of this approach, which is hardly free of controversy. But the facts are pretty overwhelming: In the District of Columbia, after just one year with a similar law, there has been a 50 percent reduction in the use of plastic and paper bags. As part of a much larger, comprehensive watershed management effort, the bag fee is aimed at helping Montgomery County meet its obligations under the Potomac River Watershed
Trash Treaty. The Treaty, initiated in 2005 and signed by federal, state and local ofﬁcials throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, calls for the achievement of a trashfree Potomac by 2013. Today discarded plastic bags account for a third of the litter that rainfall runoff conveys into local streams. The Montgomery County law covers both paper and plastic bags, because paper bags are not pollution-free either. Their manufacture includes not only the destruction of natural resources, but requires the use of toxic chemicals, as well. Plastic and paper bags from stores never really were free; retailers had to purchase the bags, and the county was required to foot the cleanup bill for those disposed of improperly. There are also important exemptions to the fee: prescription drug bags; produce bags not obtained at the point of sale; paper bags restaurants and carryout delis use for prepared or leftover food and drink; bags sold that are initially used for yard waste, pet waste, garbage, dry cleaning or newspapers; and bags from seasonal stands and street fairs. Monies collected from the fee go to the county’s
Water Quality Protection Fund, which is used to upgrade degraded streams and to create, inspect and keep up over 1,500 stormwater management facilities throughout the county. In anticipation of the law’s going into effect in January, Montgomery County undertook an extensive educational effort throughout the fall to prepare consumers and merchants for the coming change. The county distributed free bags to economically vulnerable residents and senior citizens, and many businesses are using reusable bags as a continuing advertising opportunity. Early numbers are showing results comparable to what D.C. is experiencing. I now have three reusable bags in my car — and I am increasingly even remembering to take them in with me! The law is a low-cost incentive to encourage shoppers to use
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner displays a reusable shopping bag. (Photo above and Fight Litter logo courtesy of the Ofﬁce of Council President Roger Berliner.)
reusable bags and to decline a bag for single item purchases. It also encourages retailers to inquire whether or not a bag is needed at all. In the past, multiple stores have offered 5-cent credits to those who bring
their own bags, but the vast majority of people were simply using disposable bags. By merely asking the question, “Do you need a bag?”— and moving the awareness to the forefront — a paradigm shift has occurred.
Change is never easy. However, without a loud hue and cry, Montgomery County’s plastic bag law has effected a huge change in a very short time. This is one instance in which a small effort has resulted in a big payoff.