It was a packed house as Governor Inslee hosted a Climate Town Hall at the University of Washington Intellectual House yesterday. The event was the final stop on a tour of several college campuses Inslee spoke at this month to discuss the importance of action in the face of climate change.
A key thread running through Inslee’s comments was his optimism — specifically, his optimism in Washington State. He spoke of Washington’s leadership in science, research, technological innovation, and the growth of its clean energy economy. He stated that despite what is happening in the federal government, Washingtonians still have the power to make progressive change and take action to reduce environmental threats.
“Donald Trump cannot stop us from putting a price on carbon,” said Inslee. “He cannot stop us from creating a fund where we can train people to install solar panels. He cannot stop us from training machinists to learn how to use carbon-fiber to make our cars lighter so we can have electric cars. The bottom line is he cannot stop us. We have control of our own destiny to create new technologies so that we can move forward toward a carbon-pollution free world.”
Inslee also described how Washington’s growing economy is proving climate-deniers wrong.
“The climate deniers, including the President, argue that if you do something about carbon pollution, it will destroy your economy. Well here’s the truth: we’re doing something about carbon pollution and we have a GDP growth twice the national average and we’ve created over almost 300,000 jobs” in the clean energy sector.
But, cautioned the governor, change cannot come exclusively from new technology and green businesses; there needs to be policy change.
Inslee laid out a few ideas for what this legislation could look like. He mentioned a price on carbon, incentives for consumers, and new infrastructure to support new technology.
Despite the governor’s optimism, several protesters gathered outside the doors prior to the start of the town hall, and Inslee faced tough questions following his opening remarks. Proposals for new energy facilities across the state were a primary concern for many in the audience. Red signs with the message “No LNG,” “No methanol,” “and No coal terminals,” waved throughout the discussion. Inslee responded by assuring the audience that all proposed facilities are required to pass Washington’s rigorous environmental standards in order to receive permits, and pointed to the halt of Millennium’s coal export facility along the Columbia River as an example.
With the 2018 legislative session just around the corner, Governor Inslee ended his discussion encouraging everyone in the room to get involved.
“It’s going to take a lot of help to get these policies in place… but we’ve got you. And I welcome you to this effort and I hope you’re going to get to know your legislators in the next couple of months to share whatever your views are.