Lawmakers spotlight Inslee’s record from Japan to Mont.

Source: Adam Aton, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2019

Jay Inslee. Photo credit: Thomas Sorenes/Wikimedia CommonsWashington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) is running for president on a climate change platform. Thomas Sorenes/Wikimedia Commons

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made a campaign stop yesterday at the Rayburn House Office Building.

Lawmakers invited the Democratic presidential candidate to tell the Energy and Commerce Committee how the feds can help states enact climate policy.

Inslee flipped the script: The Trump era has seen states preserve climate programs, and post-Trump it will be the states that breathe life back into federal climate policy, he said.

That allowed Inslee to highlight his impact beyond the Evergreen State, creating a picture of what a climate-obsessed presidency might mean for foreign relations, economic development and education. It also allowed him to elide some of his climate policy failures.

Washington voters have twice rejected carbon tax proposals, most recently with a November ballot initiative. Inslee said that taught him the value of perseverance.

It’s also taught him to address questions of process. On the campaign trail, he’s advocated ending the Senate’s filibuster. And in Olympia, he’s pursuing a suite of climate programs through the Legislature; Democrats have blocked GOP efforts to submit them to statewide votes.

Three climate bills could make it to Inslee’s desk this year. One would require the state to accelerate its phaseout of coal power by the end of 2025 and make electricity carbon neutral by 2030. Another would implement a low-carbon fuel standard for vehicles. A third aims to boost buildings’ energy efficiency through incentives and regulations.

On Capitol Hill, Inslee focused more on accomplishments already in the books.

He touted the state’s plan to close Washington’s last coal-fired power plant while securing millions of dollars to smooth the surrounding community’s transition. And he bragged about helping the state’s $6 billion wind turbine industry develop “from scratch,” creating scores of good-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree, he said.

Inslee pointed to his impact outside his state — and Republicans were eager to talk about that, too.

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) said Washington’s phaseout of coal would be “devastating” for Montana towns generating that energy source. And he accused Inslee of trying to reshape Japan’s energy mix by blocking a proposed coal export terminal in Washington.

“I don’t think that in your position as governor that you have jurisdiction over Japan. Japan wants to buy our coal. I think it’s a constitutional issue,” Gianforte said.

Inslee suggested that one of his biggest accomplishments has been co-founding the U.S. Climate Alliance, which seeks to uphold the country’s commitments to the Paris climate agreement. It now includes 23 states and territories, amounting to the world’s third-largest economy.

The alliance demonstrated that the Paris Agreement can fuel economic growth, Inslee said, making it “very successful, because nobody else has followed Donald Trump off the cliff on this.”

“We should work with other countries [to reduce their emissions], just like our states are working with one another. Our states are a template for success,” Inslee said.