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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


King County environmental trends improve: fewer greenhouse gases, more water conservation

Summary

People in King County are driving less and using less gas, promising trends that could provide long-term benefits for our environment, according to according to the latest Environment Benchmark report by King County, which provides a comprehensive look at environmental trends in King County.

Story

People in King County are driving less and using less gas, promising trends that could provide long-term benefits for our environment, according to according to the latest Environment Benchmark report by King County, which provides a comprehensive look at environmental trends in King County.

The data in the report covers gas consumption through 2008 and vehicle miles traveled through 2007. It indicates that per capita gasoline consumption has decreased more that 10% since 2001 and per capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has declined 5% from its peak in 1999. Influenced by the downturn in the economy, these trends are expected to continue into 2009

"Vehicles on the road account for almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in our region, so these trends are good signs," said County Executive Kurt Triplett. "The steady decline in gas consumption and vehicle miles traveled through most of the decade shows our region is beginning to rise to the challenges brought on by climate change by changing our habits, which means tangible improvements in our air quality and other environmental factors."

Among the highlights in this year's report:

  • Total gasoline consumption has declined 4% since 2001, nearly 32 million gallons;
  • Total VMT has leveled off recently, declining slightly in both 2006 and 2007 despite population increases;
  • About half of the streams sampled by the Stream Monitoring Program in 2007 were rated "high concern" on the Water Quality Index, an increase over past years.
  • Seattle Public Utilities retail customers have decreased per capita water consumption more than 40% over the last 18 years.

The King County Office of Strategic Planning and Performance Management prepares the Benchmarks Report, which began in 1994 as a program of the Growth Management Planning Council to measure progress in implementing the King County Countywide Planning Policies. The Benchmark Program demonstrates how measurement of broad quality of life outcomes can help determine if public policy and programs are making a difference.

King County uses the Benchmark Reports to gauge the effectiveness of growth management planning policies and to make changes to policies or programs that are not having a desired outcome. Benchmark data are also used extensively to align community conditions with agency performance measures on the King County AIMs High - Annual Indicators and Measures performance measurement Web site.

As a cost-saving measure, the printed report will be discontinued and all future Benchmark Program reporting will be available exclusively on the King County web site. In transitioning to web-based reporting, the program will be able to provide the most current data available for the 45 Benchmark indicators.

This report is on the web at www.kingcounty.gov/benchmarks.

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King County provides regional services to 1.8 million residents including 340,000 people living in unincorporated areas. Services include Metro transit, public health, wastewater treatment, courts, jails, prosecutors, public defenders, community and social services, the King County International Airport, and local services such as police protection, roads services and garbage collection. King County is the 14th largest county in the nation, covering 2,134 square miles, 39 cities, 760 lakes and reservoirs, and six major river systems with 3,000 miles of streams.



King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

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