Four Carbon Cap-Tax Hybrids

Getting creative with carbon limits (Part 1).
Fits like a fleece vest.

Original Sightline Institute graphic, available under our free use policy.

A tax and a cap are just different vehicles for delivering the same thing: a carbon price that holds polluters responsible for their pollution, drives the transition to clean energy, and staves off the worst risks of climate volatility. With a tax, you know the price in advance but not the quantity of carbon pollution per year; with a cap, you know the carbon but not the price.

Could Oregon and Washington create a cap-tax hybrid that is custom-made for  …  read more »

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Weekend Reading 10/24/14

A "subdivide" suggestion, getting at "the good life," and more.
Original illustration by Nina Montenegro of


A passionate and surprisingly plausible argument that “douchebag” is that unheard of epithets: a slur used to delegitimize white males.

Affordable owner-occupied housing inside city limits? Hard to come by in Cascadia’s big cities, especially in Vancouver, BC, where bungalows commonly list for $1.2 million. But what if we allowed divided ownership in single-family zones? Patrick Condon dares speak the “subdivide” word in The Tyee.

Split that average home into smaller more affordable parts. Currently subdividing homes into

 …  read more »

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Jury-Rigging Democracy

Better information to limit Big Money’s initiative power.

“The best argument against democracy,” Winston Churchill reportedly said, “is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Watching native-born Americans belly flop on a citizenship test suggests Churchill wasn’t far wrong.

But what about a week-long conversation? Worse? Actually, no.

An intriguing model of citizen participation in Oregon suggests that prolonged conversations with voters—or, conversations among voters—can dramatically improve democracy. The model is based on the jury: the panel of disinterested voters, operating under strict rules of procedure, presented with  …  read more »

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Washington State Traffic Forecast Finally Recognizes Reality

Does Washington's new road forecast spell the end of "build now, pay later"?

This is the single most responsible official traffic forecast I’ve seen from any government agency, ever:

It’s from a new transportation revenue forecast (pdf link, see p. 27) recently published by the Washington State Office of Financial Management. Their previous forecast, in pink, assumed that traffic would grow endlessly, much as it did during the 1950s through 1990s. But the new forecast, in blue, assumes that the modest traffic growth of the past decade will continue, and will then be followed by a modest decline.

There are two reasons why this forecast is the most responsible one I’ve seen to date. First, it reflects the growing evidence that three’s been a long-term slowdown in the growth vehicle travel—a slowdown that has been evident on major roads in Washington, for Washington State roads as a whole, for the US, and for much of the industrialized world. Second, even if the forecast is wrong, a conservative revenue forecast far and away the most fiscally prudent way to plan a transportation budget. Read more »


Birth Control? There’s an App for That

Planned Parenthood pioneers a new program to improve contraceptive access.

Weekend Reading 10/17/14

Portland's awesome Street Books program, best bots, and more.

Prediction: Cloud Peak’s Coal Export Division Will Start Losing Money in 2015

There's only so long a coal company can make money betting that coal prices will fall.

Ebola versus Cars

How we systematically misunderstand risk.

Cap and Trade—In 3 Pictures

Three mental shortcuts for talking about smart climate and energy policy.

Can We Depend on the Money?

What Washington’s carbon revenue stream could look like through 2050.