Gov. Inslee Ignores Legislature’s Role; Continues Push for Potentially Costly New State Programs

Governor Inslee has refused for weeks to back away from his consideration of implementing low carbon fuel standards and possibly other actions such as Cap N’ Trade by Executive Order. This has been an issue largely seen as a killer for any transportation deals this year.

In the CLEW report issued this week by Governor Inslee, Senator Ranker, and Rep. Fitzgibbon, the Governor uses this as another opportunity to vaguely state the role he believes the Legislature should have in these decisions. On page 4 the report states, “The Legislature should be actively engaged in this process through an ongoing executive and legislative dialogue on the actions we should take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions….once specific proposals emerge, they will be subject to review by legislators, stakeholders, and our citizens.”

On page 13 the report states, “To meet the Workgroup’s statutory obligation, we have identified a set of actions that will secure the additional emission reductions by the required dates and are recommending that the state move forward to design and implement these actions.” Then as the report is wrapping up and addressing the “Future Process and Timeline” on page 16, it states that “policy designs and economic analysis should be organized and conducted by the executive branch in 2014,” and again reiterates the role of the legislature will be to engage in a dialogue and review proposals.

Brazenly, the notion of Legislators taking action on any of the proposals is ignored, instead limiting the role to having a dialogue and allowing a review of materials. Clearly, the Governor’s lengthy stay in the US Congress somehow never educated him on the concept of separation of powers.

You can view the entire report by clicking here.

The recommendations from the Governor includes:

  • Establish a Cap N’ Trade Program (The report calls it a Cap N’ Market Program)
  • Reduce and Eliminate Power by Coal in Washington State
  • Create an Energy Smart Building Programs – Include incentives and financing for energy neutral development.
  • Finance the use of Clean/Renewable Energy Programs
  • Transportation Adjustments – Accelerate the use of clean cars, cleaner fuels, and change the way we finance transportation. Add Climate Change considerations to Land Use plans.
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Vague and Contradictory Data Make State’s Climate Report a Policy Rorschach Test | Washington Policy Center

Vague and Contradictory Data Make State’s Climate Report a Policy Rorschach Test | Washington Policy Center

—> Click to read the article from the Washington Policy Center

The Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup (CLEW) was designed earlier this year in a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker and championed by Gov. Jay Inslee as a means to develop a broad range of options (including carbon pricing) to meet the greenhouse gas emission goals set by the legislature in 2008. The legislation indicates that it is supposed to analyze the greenhouse gas emission reduction programs implemented in other jurisdictions in order to find the most cost effective program for our state. Specifically its to do so by evaluating, “the relative impact [of those programs] upon different sectors of the jurisdiction’s economy, including power rates, agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation fuel costs; [and] the impacts upon household consumption and spending, including fuel, food, and housing costs, and program measures to mitigate impacts to low-income populations.”

Unfortunately, the group Chaired by Gov. Inslee has struggled to move forward a comprehensive economic impact analysis since it began meeting in May 2013. It even held two public forums, one in Spokane and one in Seattle before any economic impacts of the proposed tax and regulatory policies were known – perhaps indicating that the economics are more of an afterthought. 

Finally, in early November the consultant hired by CLEW released a report (link: http://alturl.com/ctk5k) containing several snippets of data pasted into a series of tables. However, much of the data contained in the near last minute report (the group is set to vote on recommendations in the coming weeks) comes out of jurisdictions different from Washington and in some cases from studies several years old – making the quality and value of these snippets questionable at best. 

Thankfully, Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center has provided some of his insights in the article linked above.