So how did Gov. Jay Inslee do with today's executive order calling for a more aggressive approach to tackling climate change in the state?
(For a punchier, policy summary version, click here. )
To get two answers that couldn't be further apart, let's ask our two Whatcom state senators (culled from press releases):
Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island:
Ranker called the executive order a "bold action to advance Washington's commitment to fighting climate change. These actions will not only develop specific Washington-based programs to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but will allow our children and grandchildren to experience a healthy Washington state - both environmentally and economically."
Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale:
"Today Governor Inslee did an end-run around the state Legislature and moved closer to imposing massive regulations that will choke job creation and add huge energy costs to the budgets of average families.
"Through his Executive Order the governor is now taking policy development behind closed doors. His first meeting of the newly created Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce – which took place today – was never announced to the Legislature nor was the public notified in advance.
"The governor’s track record is dismal when it comes to transparency on environmental-policy issues. He went to California in 2013 and signed a climate-change agreement without notifying the Legislature. He’s ignored the recommendations from the bipartisan Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup that expressed concerns about the impact of carbon-reduction programs for Washington families and job creators. And, he’s refused to say what his intentions are for imposing a carbon-fuel tax. Today’s Executive Order is evidence that the governor plans to move forward with high-cost solutions while ignoring creative solutions such as converting our Washington state ferries to liquefied natural gas.
"We have only to look to California to see where the high cost of cap-and-trade policies will take Washington: a projected 40-cent spike in the cost of a gallon of gas. California is now embroiled in costly litigation over its cap-and-trade policies and has suspended the implementation of its low-carbon fuel standards due to massive compliance problems. These are the same policies that Governor Inslee is determined to impose on Washington."
I feel confident saying Inslee, one of the five members of the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup formed in 2013, went ahead and did what the group couldn't do -- come up with a plan. Predictably, the two Republicans on the workgroup didn't see eye-to-eye with the three Democrats. In addition to Inslee, Ranker and Ericksen represented the Senate; and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, represented the House. Due to Republican changes to the 2013 bill that formed the workgroup, Inslee was not a voting member. The group was designed to stalemate.
The latest news account of Inslee's climate order and his announcement to the media can be found here.