Jesus Christ… when will our local media stop bending over backwards to accommodate Republicans in their efforts to greenwash themselves?
The sub-headline on Chris McGann’s article in Tuesday’s Seattle P-I, “Gregoire, Rossi battle for eco-credentials,” is a prime illustration of how journalistic “objectivity” goes awry, implying that there is some sort of “battle” between the two candidates when it comes to credibility on environmental issues, when in fact there has never been any contest at all. Gov. Gregoire has an impeccable environmental record that spans her entire career, whereas Rossi is a Dino-come-lately to the issue, spouting half-measures and platitudes in an effort paint himself as a moderate. (Whatever that means.)
And the text of McGann’s article isn’t any better than the headline.
Campaigning out of a hybrid SUV that gets about 27 miles per gallon, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi says that when it comes to the environment, he’s more progressive than many voters might think.
I’ve long struggled to come up with a cogent definition of what it means to be a “progressive,” but apparently it merely requires driving a hybrid… even a hybrid SUV that gets only half the mileage of a fuel efficient Prius. By that measure, I guess Rossi is more progressive than I am. Who knew?
Rossi’s agenda calls for converting the state motor pool to hybrid and plug-in vehicles by 2015, providing a sales tax exemption on hybrid vehicles, replacing fish-killing road culverts and implementing massive congestion relief projects that he says will eliminate millions of tons of carbon emissions produced by cars stuck in traffic.
Uh-huh. Let’s take the main points of “Rossi’s agenda” one by one.
1) Converting the state motor pool to hybrid and plug-in vehicles by 2015.
Good idea. In fact it’s such a good idea, that it was one of the main points in Gov. Gregoire’s “Washington Climate Change Challenge,” Executive Order 07-02, signed and sealed by the governor on February 7, 2007. And how’s it going? 690 of the state motor pool’s 1,800 vehicles are now hybrids, a percentage that ranks WA number three in the nation. When you add in flex-fuel vehicles, WA ranks number one.
2) Providing a sales tax exemption on hybrid vehicles.
Because the last thing a Republican like Rossi would ever argue for doing is allowing market forces to work their magic… you know, the way $4/gallon gasoline is already driving consumers to more fuel efficient cars. But I’m willing to meet Dino halfway, and suggest a more targeted sales tax exemption for passenger cars that get better than 40 miles to the gallon, because hell if taxpayers should subsidize some $50,000 Lexus hybrid that gets only 25 mpg, just so Dino and his rich buddies can feel good about themselves while getting yet another a tax break to boot.
3) Replacing fish-killing road culverts.
Again, the state is already in the process of replacing salmon culverts as part of its Barrier Removal Program, 69 since 1992, at a cost of $27 million. Rossi’s much-ridiculed fantasy transportation “plan” would set aside $200 million toward replacing culverts at an estimated average cost of $100,000 each (about a quarter the price of already completed projects)… a random number he clearly pulled out of his ass.
4) Implementing massive congestion relief projects that he says will eliminate millions of tons of carbon emissions produced by cars stuck in traffic.
Too bad the science doesn’t bear this out. According to Sightline, “every extra one-mile stretch of lane added to a congested highway will increase climate-warming CO2 emissions more than 100,000 tons over 50 years.” It’s convenient rhetoric to argue that building new roads reduces carbon emissions, but it doesn’t pass the laugh test, let alone empirical inquiry.
And neither does this ridiculous piece of editorializing:
Rossi, who like GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain says global warming is a problem that must be addressed, is running toward an issue many Republicans dismiss or ignore — the environment.
McCain: “The facts of global warming demand our urgent attention.”
Rossi: “We’ll see how this debate goes, but I don’t think anybody should panic at this point.”
So Rossi is in a “battle” to hybridize a state fleet that is already hybridizing, provide incentives that are already being provided by the market, replace salmon culverts that are already being replaced, and address global warming by building roads that will only increase carbon emissions. That’s some green agenda.
Sure, McGann eventually gets to the Democrats’ rebuttal but not until 200 words into the 275 that grace A1, after the headline and the lede have already done their damage. The impression left on most readers (many of whom don’t read much past the headline, let alone the front page) is that both candidates are fighting to claim the mantle of environmental stewardship, when in fact Rossi’s war is merely one of words, whereas Gregoire’s is one of actual accomplishments—according to Washington Conservation Voters, an “extensive record of environmental leadership.” And that’s only what she’s accomplished since becoming governor.
“So what are you doing about it?” Rossi asked. “Well, I’ve actually made a proposal that is the only serious proposal that would remove carbon from the air. She has made no serious proposal.”
Yeah, sure, that’s what Rossi said, I guess, but you didn’t have to repeat it, Chris. You’re a reporter, not a fucking stenographer, and it’s simply irresponsible to leave that claim dangling out there without making any effort to validate or fisk it. Rossi’s plan is arguably not serious, would not remove carbon from the air, and is most definitely not the only one out there. Gov. Gregoire hasn’t just been making carbon-cutting proposals (the Climate Action, Green Jobs, Renewable Fuel, Clean Cars bills, etc.) as governor she’s been implementing them. And as the P-I’s Capitol Reporter, Chris, you know that.
In fact, the whole premise of this article, that Dino Rossi could possibly have any credible claim to being pro-environment, let alone “progressive” for chissakes, is patently absurd! This is the BIAW candidate—the only major political organization in Washington state politics to oppose the Puget Sound Partnership—and you’re going to allow him to greenwash himself on the front page of the Seattle P-I?