State leaders are hiding the truth on climate policy
Here in Washington, the are some major themes we see over and over again with our climate policy. One is that it’s extremely expensive. Another is that we keep failing to meet our goals. And, finally, there is a distinct lack of transparency and accountability among our state’s leaders like Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
We are not the only ones who have noticed. Seattle news channel KING TV (NBC) recently pointed out “Washington is missing key climate goals, advocates claim state leaders lack transparency.” They went on to report that “a state agency was created to set, track, measure and publicize goals such as environmental targets, but the metrics have mostly been scrubbed from its website.”
Ten years ago, when Inslee came to office, he said “Holding ourselves accountable for results to the citizens of Washington isn’t politically expedient. But it is clearly the right thing to do.”
By removing results from his Results Washington website, he’s doing the wrong thing by his own standards. Results Washington Director Mandeep Kaundal claims removing the results is actually an effort to be more transparent rather than an effort to hide poor results.
“Our goal is to make it easier to access all the information at first glance, and we are currently evaluating our process to make it easier to access the information and minimize additional clicks,” Kaundal said. KING 5 showed the website to multiple people in a man-on-the-street-style segment, and none of them could tell what the goals were, let alone if the state was meeting them.
The segment also made it clear that Inslee is dodging the media. After being turned down for interviews with the governor twice, the reporter met up with him at a public event and asked him for an interview directly. With the cameras rolling, Inslee commits to an interview and asks a member of staff to help arrange it. However, when they followed up, Inslee’s office said he was not available for an interview due to his busy schedule. They told her she should focus on the successful aspects of his climate initiatives instead.
This isn’t the first time Inslee and his allies in government have refused to be accountable for their actions on climate. In August, the Utilities Transportation Commission (UTC) – whose three members are appointed by Gov. Inslee – approved a request from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to increase customer bills by 3% explicitly to cover what “PSE needs to comply with the Cap and Invest Program.” But the UTC rejected another request from PSE – this one to add a line to their bill explaining the increase in cost – saying it would be “confusing” to customers. This decision was recommended by the office of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. He maintains he only “advised” – but it’s unlikely that any similar board is going to ignore the not-so-subtle winks and nudges of powerful allies like the governor and the attorney general.
While hiding this cost from the Governor’s Climate Commitment Act/carbon tax from the consumers, they also argue that it’s not a tax. As Todd Myers, Director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center put it, “The governor’s office and others have resorted to some very convoluted language and logic to avoid using that politically powerful word.” However, “The law and logic say Washington’s new climate law is a tax.” By every metric and every precedent, it cannot be seen in any other way.
As Brandi Kruse pointed out on her unDivided podcast, the lack of transparency and accountability from Inslee and his cronies has become “nefarious.” Washington has a governor who has made his career about climate. In the pursuit of unrealistic goals, Inslee was willing to pursue an expensive carbon tax and to lie about what the ramifications of that tax would be on working-class Washingtonians.
What he’s not willing to do is own up to his mistakes now that his goals have been exposed as unattainable and expensive even to his former allies.