Why I Support a San Juan County Motor Vehicle Fee | Letter

The recent draft of Destination Management Plan (“Draft Plan”) proposes a charge on all (nongovernmental?) vehicles that travel within the county. While this charge would appear to be in response to short-term visitors to this county, it actually responds to much more. It has to; we’re all visitors, and all must contribute to reparations to the environment. The length of visit is irrelevant. Those who claim the moral high ground as “Native” or “Here longer” will themselves not live here forever.

The central issue is how we are going to meet the conflicting needs to reduce greenhouse gasses while increasing demand for electric power from resilient sources. Our segue from fossil fuels to electrical energy will reduce resilience because our demand for electrical energy is increasing while our already insufficient local renewable power capacity is not.

Our use of private vehicles as our primary means of transportation widens this gap. Renewables, the most desirable source of locally generated power, are tidal, diurnal, seasonal and/or weather-dependent, all together, are by a large margin insufficient.

We have these choices: (1) a small nuclear-powered generator (don’t hold your breath; financial feasibility is still in doubt), (2) time-of-use electric rate structure designed to flatten demand peaks, or more draconian utility measures, (3) Continue the segue from fossil fuels to electric energy while maintaining our current lifestyle and see what happens, or (4) begin a shift of living habits starting with developing electric public transportation. The Draft Plan proposes the fourth alternative which I support.

It is axiomatic that the cost of prevention is less than the cost of remediation. A county vehicle fee is our first step in a planet-wide project whose next state of dynamic equilibrium no one alive today will see.

Bill Appel,

Friday Harbor