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Elaine Spencer

Elaine Spencer

Elaine has a broad range of trial experience in land use and natural resource issues. She has been a leader in defending the forest products industry from lawsuits threatening its economic vitality. She has represented a wide range of property owners in disputes over whether they can use their land. Her success comes from a combination of legal skills, industry knowledge and a strategic ability to claim the high ground in controversial matters early, and to maintain that high ground to achieve the client’s objectives.

Posts by Elaine Spencer

EPA Gives Itself Three More Years To Figure Out A Tailoring Rule For Biomass Energy

Posted in Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

The Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq was adopted in the early 1960s to insure that business and industry does not spew pollutants into the air, causing harm to humans, plants and animals. Congress found that “the growth in the amount and complexity of air pollution brought about by urbanization, industrial development,… Continue Reading

One More (Baby?) Step Towards Aviation Fuel From Forest Biomass

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

Air travel is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions and a major consumer of fossil fuels.  As a result Boeing and Airbus, as well as European airlines, have made major investments in developing aviation biofuel.  In 2008 Boeing said that aviation biofuel would be a reality by 2011. Well, 2011 is here, but commercial… Continue Reading

Happy 41st Earth Day!

Posted in Climate Change, Legislation

I no more wrote that title than I “heard” voices shouting, “What’s happy about it?” “Why would you even be pointing out that it’s Earth Day?” “Isn’t the earth going to the dogs and how can it be happy?” Or something like that. But for me this is a particularly reflective Earth Day. The first… Continue Reading

Hearing on HB 1268 Presents a Microcosm of Why Adopting and Implementing an Energy Policy that Moves Away from the Status Quo Is So Hard

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Legislation, Renewable Energy

The Washington State Green Energy Leadership Plan Report, released October 21, 2010, identified four areas where it found Washington State might be able to achieve leadership in emerging segments of the future green economy. As we discussed in an earlier post, for two of those areas – combined energy efficiency, green building and smart grid… Continue Reading

Food Fight! Greenhouse Gas Regulation in 2011

Posted in Legislation, Regulatory, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business

For most of the last two years it has been easy to write about climate change legislation. Two years ago, Washington State seemed poised to adopt its own version of a cap-and-trade program as part of the Western Climate Initiative. But that legislation faltered, because it was not well developed and state legislators were bombarded… Continue Reading

Amending Washington’s Utility Statutes to Promote Green Energy Investment by Utilities

Posted in Regulatory, Renewable Energy

As Judy Endejan reported on October 21, the Washington State Clean Energy Leadership Plan Report identified regulatory influences and challenges as a key factor influencing clean energy job development in Washington. One of those challenges is the uncertainty utilities face in cost recovery because regulated utilities do not know whether they will be allowed to… Continue Reading

Ecology Amends State Air Permit Rules to Mirror Federal Rule for Greenhouse Gases

Posted in Climate Change, Legislation

If comprehensive climate legislation is not likely to have much to do with greenhouse gases any time soon, regulation keeps inching forward under existing regulatory authority. Most recently in Washington State, Washington’s Department of Ecology (DOE) published notice of intent to adopt, and has requested comment on a rule establishing the thresholds for greenhouse gas… Continue Reading

King County’s 2010 Energy Plan – The Glass Half Full

Posted in Legislation, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

Following adoption of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, for more than a decade discussion of response to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions focused on sweeping national and international programs. The Obama Administration made responding to global climate change one of the key issues it intended to address. More than a year ago the U.S. House… Continue Reading

Western Climate Initiative Steps Back Into the Federal Vacuum on Cap-and-Trade

Posted in Climate Change, Entrepreneurs, Legislation, Regulatory

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) is a collaboration of seven Western states (Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington) and four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec), dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Two years ago there was a major push in each… Continue Reading


Posted in Alternative Fuels, Climate Change, Entrepreneurs, Natural Resources and Environment, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Business

Washington’s Department of Ecology recently issued a report entitled “Washington Western Climate Initiative Economic Impact Analysis,” which predicts that if the cap-and-trade program advocated by the Western Climate Initiative were adopted, the result would be an additional 19,300 jobs by 2020 and $3.3 billion increased economic output in the state product by 2020.  Presumably those… Continue Reading

Ecology Publishes Draft SEPA Guidance for Greenhouse Gases

Posted in Regulatory

Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requires that prior to any decision with a “probable significant environmental impact,” the public decision maker publish an environmental impact statement (EIS). When any governmental permit is requested (with narrow exceptions), the government must first make a threshold determination as to whether the proposal does have a probable significant… Continue Reading

Must “Bi-Partisan Climate Legislation” Be an Oxymoron?

Posted in Climate Change, Legislation

  oxymoron: a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly” Rarely has there been such anticipatory buzz as existed for the unveiling of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate bill.  In December of last year, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and… Continue Reading

What’s the Proper Accounting for Forest Off-Sets?

Posted in Green Building, Natural Resources and Environment, Sustainable Business

The American Forest Resource Council (AFRC) held its annual meeting two weeks ago, and as part of that meeting hosted the most heated debate on the proper accounting for carbon sequestration by forests, and the potential credit that forests in the United States may be entitled to that I have heard.  On one side, Mark… Continue Reading

Can Forest Biomass Solve Two Problems at Once? Or Will It Just Give Us Two Dead Birds?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Natural Resources and Environment, Sustainable Business

We like to think about killing two birds with one stone. Seems efficient. Burning forest biomass to create electricity is one of the potential solutions to reducing CO2 emissions and fossil fuel consumption. If forest biomass is grown sustainably, it can be produced indefinitely. Burning forest biomass also potentially creates the opportunity to improve forest… Continue Reading

Kerry-Boxer Bill – Part Two of a Many-Part Series: The Personal Transportation Sector

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment

The simple fact is that America’s love affair with the automobile has a whole lot to do with making us not only the largest producer of greenhouse gases but also the largest per capita producer of greenhouse gases in the world. [China’s race to become the second largest producer of greenhouse gases is fueled in… Continue Reading

Kerry-Boxer Bill – Part One of a Many-Part Series: Promoting Nuclear Power

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment

The pundits seem to be lost in an endless game of “how many ways can we say that governing is harder than it looked when President Obama was elected?” As any teenager would tell us, “well, duh!” It is clear that the President will not be able to march through nearly as much of his… Continue Reading

Utility Regulation If Global Warming Mattered

Posted in Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory, Renewable Energy

In Washington, as in most states, privately owned public utilities are regulated by the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC). Utility regulation developed beginning in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, and reflected the battles of that era with the monopolistic power of railroads and utilities. As the nation first discovered the power and mobility… Continue Reading

Kerry-Boxer Climate Change Bill Includes Forest and Ag Provisions that May Reward Existing Carbon Sequestration

Posted in Green Building, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment

No one should hold their breath, but climate change legislation is beginning to move in the U.S. Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive climate change bill last July, but it has been “resting” in the Senate, while the Senate grapples with health care reform. President Obama’s hope for a bill to be… Continue Reading

Washington Proposes State Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements Independent of National Reporting

Posted in Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Regulatory

This won’t be the last time that someone shrieks, “Don’t these guys talk to each other!?!” On September 22, 2009 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final greenhouse gas reporting rule, requiring annual reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by a wide range of manufacturers, electricity generators, municipal solid waste landfills, manure management… Continue Reading

Urban Wood Waste Cuts Seattle Steam’s Fossil Fuel Carbon Emissions in Half

Posted in Alternative Fuels, LEED, Renewable Energy

Seattle Steam Company was founded in 1893. It has 18 miles of steam pipes running under the streets of downtown Seattle, which it uses to distribute steam to approximately 200 downtown buildings, and the First Hill neighborhoods. That steam heats the buildings, sterilizes hospital instruments, and creates the hot water to wash mountains of hotel… Continue Reading

Would a Feed-In Tariff for Solar Energy Make Distributed Energy Work?

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Legislation, Natural Resources and Environment, Renewable Energy

Most of the discussion about substituting renewable energy for fossil fuels in the production of electricity focuses on major projects – the wind farm that can light Vancouver, or the co-generation plant that can supply all the electricity for Bellevue. It may be that such projects will be necessary, but they are at the very… Continue Reading