Politics Blog

Governor hires coal lobbyist to lead policy team

When Whatcom County hired Cliff Strong, a former planner for Gateway Pacific onto its own planning staff several weeks ago, the story gained traction among anti-coal activists.

I am reminded of that story with the news out today that Gov. Jay Inslee hired a former coal lobbyist as director of his policy team.

Matt Steuerwalt might be like a lot of people, in that his allegiance goes with whomever is signing his paycheck. People in his line of work are typically hired for their skill set, not for the specific things they promoted in the past.

The article linked above, from the Sightline Institute ("committed to making the Northwest a global model of sustainability"), mentions that Steuerwalt lobbied on behalf of a failed effort to export coal from Grays Harbor. It also mentions that he was Gov. Chris Gregoire's advisor on energy and climate, but the article implies his resume has been tarnished after coal was added to it.

"Given that Steuerwalt has recently been a paid lobbyist in support of coal in Washington, the move raises question about whether he will use his influence in the Inslee administration to advance an agenda more favorable to the coal industry," the article says. It mentions that coal export (read: Cherry Point) is still very much on the coal industry's agenda in this state.

For what it's worth, Steuerwalt's bio page at his former employer, Strategies 360, paints him with a broader brush. "His work covers renewable energy development, traditional electric utility service, forest products, agriculture, hydropower, traditional and alternative fuels, manufacturing and technology development."