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Secretary John Kerry visits Olympia in support of Inslee’s carbon tax

Former Secretary of State John Kerry joined Governor Inslee and legislators in Olympia today in support of Governor Inslee’s carbon tax. Kerry spent the day in meetings with business, tribal, and labor leaders as well as with the House and Senate Democratic caucuses.

Since the Trump Administration indicated its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement last summer, Secretary Kerry has been traveling across the nation and abroad pushing for the United States’ continued engagement in reducing carbon emissions. He says that while the country as a whole is taking steps backward from this issue, individual states are taking the lead in making sure the United States remains a leader in fighting the negative impacts of climate change.

“People are still looking to the United States. And what we do, even within several states is profoundly important. … While the president has pulled out of [the Paris Agreement], the American people have not. The American people remain committed to trying to make this happen — to achieve it. And that is achieved by individual states showing the leadership like the state of Washington is prepared to show.”

Kerry also discussed how this issue is about more than environmentalism. It’s also about economic growth and pushing innovation to take advantage of the opportunities in the clean energy sector.

“People shouldn’t look at this as just sort of an environmental thing. It’s not. It’s about leadership. It’s about the economics, innovation, and creativity in creating jobs of the future. It’s about our ability to transition to the biggest single marketplace the world has every seen — which is the energy market of the future.”

He also commended Inslee’s carbon tax proposal saying that it will encourage innovation, create new jobs, and will directly fund emission reduction initiatives in the state.

Kerry says that right now, tax payers are already paying huge amounts of money toward climate change. They are just paying for the consequences, rather than the preventative efforts. As an example, Kerry says that Hurricanes Irma and Harvey alone cost tax payers about $150 billion in total.

“We’re already spending for this. We’re just spending for it after the fact, not ahead of what we could be doing to create the jobs, to provide the long term growth and development in a way that makes sense.

I think it makes far more sense to the citizens, and the Governor believes this, for you all to decide how you want to approach it before it happens rather than wait until it has happened and be forced to spend money that’s just fixing things that got broken. That doesn’t make sense.”

Inslee’s carbon tax has a public hearing scheduled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday afternoon.