The Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon struck a defiant pose Saturday, vowing to fight proposals they expect soon from President Donald Trump they say would weaken environmental protection.
The Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon struck a defiant pose Saturday, vowing to fight proposals they expect soon from President Donald Trump that they say would weaken environmental protection.
Govs. Jay Inslee and Kate Brown offered no new tax or policy announcements during their 21-minute news conference in downtown Seattle.
They couched the coming showdown between the Trump administration and the Northwest as a third chapter, following Trump’s efforts to ban travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries that was blocked by a lawsuit by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and the proposal that failed in Congress on Friday to repeal Obamacare.
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Proposals in the president’s budget would harm Puget Sound, put salmon protection at risk, and harm threatened orca populations — as well as slash home-weatherization and low-income heating subsidies, Inslee said.
“This is especially disturbing on the West Coast, because Washington and Oregon and California are some of the most scientifically literate people anywhere,” Inslee said. “We understand chemistry, physics and even the law of gravity. To have a president who will in the next few days or weeks announce that he intends to roll back our efforts to fight climate change, is unacceptable.”
Inslee has made climate change one of his primary issues. But he hasn’t been able to convince lawmakers to agree to his proposals to put carbon taxes on industries that pollute, or adopt a complicated cap-and-trade system.
The state of Washington has one of the nation’s cleanest economies, thanks to electricity from river dams. But citizens are divided over fossil-fuel exports, and whether the state should welcome Arctic oil-drilling rigs.
Inslee’s challenger last year, Republican Bill Bryant, said he supported a coal-export terminal in Longview in southwestern Washington, or similar projects that would provide hundreds of construction and loading jobs for blue-collar port cities.
Two state politicians who champion fossil-fuel exports, Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and former Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, endorsed Trump early and were rewarded with advisory jobs in the new administration.
And Inslee, despite his rhetoric about climate change, supported the “Connecting Washington” program in 2015, which includes $8.4 billion to expand or replace state highways, using gasoline and car taxes. And under Inslee, despite rising transit use, the number of vehicle miles traveled increased 4 percent from 2013-15.
Under state law, there’s a target to reduce emissions by 2035 by one-fourth of the 1990 levels. Temperatures have risen two degrees since World War II, and while the state’s carbon emissions declined from 2007-12, current trends aren’t nearly strong enough to meet the goal, the Ecology Department reports.
On Saturday the governors pledged to continue transforming toward cleaner fuels, and strengthening existing programs.
Inslee mentioned four areas:
• Bring more renewable energy into the electric grid.
• Increase highway capacity by encouraging more use of electric cars and autonomous cars, which he said are being developed by 20 companies in Washington.
• Stronger efforts in this state to cap carbon pollution and cap emissions, through clean air regulations.
• Policies to monitor limits on methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases.
Brown said Oregon and Washington, plus California and British Columbia, are climate partners who together represent 54 million people and would rank as the world’s fifth-largest economy.
Though small, Oregon stands alongside its neighbors as a “petri dish of innovation,” she said.
Inslee emphasized Trump’s statement during the campaign that climate change was a Chinese hoax. Inslee mentioned his own recent speech to the United Nations on climate, where he said the West Coast will flight climate change regardless of what happens in D.C.
“We need the rest of the world not to lose heart. The rest of the world now is in lockstep with the West Coast, building clean-energy jobs and defeating climate change,” Inslee said.