Category Archives: Gov. Jay Inslee

America Cares About Climate Change Again – Jay Inslee and more

Repost from The Atlantic

America Cares About Climate Change Again

For the first time in years, a broad spectrum of climate advocates is playing offense.
 By ROBINSON MEYER, MAR 19, 2019
Jay Inslee, Democratic governor of Washington, launches his presidential campaign in Seattle.
Jay Inslee’s long-shot, climate-focused presidential campaign is only one of several new campaigns, run by Democrats across the ideological spectrum. LINDSEY WASSON / REUTERS

Suddenly, climate change is a high-profile national issue again.

It’s not just the Green New Deal. Around the country, the loose alliance of politicians, activists, and organizations concerned about climate change is mobilizing. They are deploying a new set of strategies aimed at changing the minds—or at least the behaviors—of a large swath of Americans, including utility managers, school principals, political donors, and rank-and-file voters.

They make a ragtag group: United by little more than common concern, they don’t agree on an ideal federal policy or even how to talk about the problem. They do not always coordinate or communicate with one another. And while their efforts are real, it remains far too early to say whether they will result in the kind of national legislative victories that have eluded the movement in the past.

But for the first time since November 8, 2016, if not far earlier, climate advocates are once again playing offense.

This mobilization starts at the top of the U.S. political system. Earlier this month, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced that he would run for president to elevate climate change as a pressing national issue. Inslee’s launch did not mention his White House–ready biography—he’s a former star athlete who married his high-school sweetheart—and focused entirely on his decades-long climate focus.

“I’m the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s number-one priority,” Inslee said in his launch video. His campaign raised $1 million in its first three days, a surprisingly large figure for a single-issue underdog candidate.

[ Read: Jay Inslee’s risky bet for 2020 ]

Other national political leaders are trying different strategies. Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who has made climate a signature issue, announced that he would not run for president because his considerable fortune would be better spent fighting carbon pollution directly. Instead, he will fund a new campaign called Beyond Carbon for the Sierra Club, an extension of the club’s wildly successful Beyond Coal campaign, also bankrolled by Bloomberg. Beyond Coal says it has helped close 285 of the country’s 530 coal plants, a major reason for the overall decline in U.S. carbon emissions.

This widespread public concern about climate change is already being reflected in policy made at the state level. New Mexico will soon become the third state to set a goal for 100 percent carbon-free electricity. Last week, lawmakers passed a mandate that by 2045, 80 percent of the state’s power must come from renewable sources and 20 percent from carbon-free sources. The governor cheered the measure and is expected to sign it.

California, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia have adopted similar goals, all pegged to 2045. And their ranks could soon expand. Twelve more Democratic governors have promised to mandate the same 100 percent target, according to Rob Sargent, a campaign director at Environment America, a consortium of state-level environmental groups. “Six governors got elected in November running on 100 percent renewables,” he told me. “That wouldn’t have happened four or even two years ago.”

Excitement is also coming from the grassroots. On Friday, thousands of U.S. students refused to go to school, participating in a worldwide student strike for climate action. The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led group that brought national attention to the Green New Deal in November, plans to hold 100 town-hall meetings in support of the plan across the country, organized by local chapters.

This massive protest in Lisbon was one of hundreds of “climate strike” events held worldwide on Friday. The class boycott spilled into the United States for the first time last week. (Rafael Marchante / Reuters)

Much of this activity is concentrated among Democrats. But public opinion has shifted in their favor on the issue. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say that the Republican Party’s position on climate change is “outside the mainstream,”according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last month. That represents a nine-point bump since October 2015, when the question was last asked.

That poll was conducted in February, when the Democratic-led Green New Deal dominated media coverage. But a majority of Americans said that month that Democratic positions on climate change were “in the mainstream.”

Within the party, rank-and-file Democrats seem to be taking the issue more seriously. Eighty percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers say that primary candidates should talk “a lot” about climate change—a result that suggests climate change is one of the Democratic Party’s top two issues, according to a CNN/Des Moines Register poll conducted by Selzer and Companythis month. Only health care merited such consensus concern among the group.

That points to a potential upheaval in how important voters consider climate policy. In May 2015, when the same polling firm last posed a similar question to likely Democratic caucus-goers, climate change did not rank among the top five most important issues.

And several recent polls have also identified a huge, nearly 10-point surge in worry about climate change among all Americans. “We’ve not seen anything like that in the 10 years we’ve been conducting the study,” Anthony Leiserowitz, a researcher at Yale, told me in January.

Those national surveys found that Americans were motivated by a series of urgent new reports about climate science and an outbreak of extreme weather.

[ Read: How to understand the UN’s dire new climate report ]

Some Republicans say they’re taking notice. “I think we’re moving from the science of climate to the solutions of addressing climate, and that is a big shift in particular for Republicans,” says Heather Reams, the executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a nonprofit that encourages GOP politicians to support renewable energy.

This shift, if it is occurring, has yet to result in concrete policy proposals. Nor is it shared across the party. Some Senate Republicans have embraced “innovation” as a possible solution to climate change, but the Trump administration last week proposed zeroing out the budget for two major Department of Energy innovation programs. The programs will survive, however, in part because they have the support of Lamar Alexander, a powerful Republican from Tennessee who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

In the House, Republicans are far more skeptical of climate action. Representative Rob Bishop, a conservative lawmaker from Utah, has said the Green New Deal is nearly “tantamount to genocide.” The House GOP has offered very few climate policies of its own. An exception: Two Republicans—Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Representative Francis Rooney of Florida—last year co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to tax carbon emissions without increasing the federal budget.

It’s still unclear whether the spike in public concern will translate to any lasting GOP shift. The Green New Deal, in all its ambition and haziness, has reframed the climate conversation around solutions, where Democrats have more to say right now; if moderate Democrats fell back to insisting on the acceptance of climate science alone, Republicans might be happy to meet them there.

In any case, the views of the country’s most powerful Republican, President Donald Trump, seem extremely unlikely to change. So it’s left to his would-be 2020 opponents to heighten the contrast. At least eight candidates have made climate change a top issue, according to The New York Times. And announcing his candidacy for president last week, the former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas said that “interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy, and our climate have never been greater.” (He has yet to offer a concrete proposal on the issue.)

Whether this focus on climate change produces new policy ideas remains to be seen. Yet even so, environmental groups and their allies are feeling whiplash at how far the conversation has come since 2016. Says Alex Trembath, the deputy director of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research center based in Oakland: “If you had asked me a year ago if we would’ve been talking this much about climate change now, I would’ve said, ‘Absolutely not.’”


    Jay Inslee for the Climate, and for President

    Repost from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight
    [Editor: I am not endorsing Inslee here, but I’m impressed.  The ONLY criterion for my vote will be the ability to draw us together to defeat of the malfeasant now holding the office of president.  – R.S.]

    How Jay Inslee Could Win The 2020 Democratic Nomination

    By Christie Aschwanden and Geoffrey Skelley, March 1, 2019, 7:00 AM

    TOC-INSLEE-4×3In his 2020 presidential announcement video, two-term Washington Governor Jay Inslee declares that climate change is the “most urgent challenge of our time.”

    Inslee intends to make climate change his signature issue. “I have heard from around the country that people believe that this issue demands priority, and it demands a candidate from the Democratic Party that will make it front and center,” he told FiveThirtyEight before his campaign announcement. He’s convinced that when voters see his work on climate change along with a laundry list of progressive achievements, it’ll be enough to become the nominee.

    But to do that, he first has to beat the Democratic field. As a whole, Inslee has a solidly liberal record, one that could conceivably attract voters on the left of the party. But that could be a crowded part of the field, with well-known names such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders already running. Sanders, for example, has increasingly sought to make climate change one of his core issues, which could steal some of Inslee’s thunder. Still, Inslee probably will be one of the few Democratic governors running, and his ability to point to tangible accomplishments rather than just rhetoric could allow him to differentiate himself from many other Democratic contenders.

    As governor of Washington, Inslee has built a record of economic growth for which he credits his progressive policies. Among those policies are a minimum wage that is more than 50 percent higher than the federal one, a family leave policy1 that allows some workers to take up to three months of paid leave for a medical condition or to care for a new child or ailing family member, and a law that requires workers to receive equal pay and career advancement opportunities regardless of gender. Inslee has overseen an expansion of college financial aid for undocumented students and a large-scale transportation infrastructure program. He’s confident his record would help him beat President Trump.

    But Inslee’s candidacy also relies on an unproven gambit: that climate change can be a winning issue in the 2020 Democratic primary.

    At first glance, climate change may not have sufficient salience to carry a presidential campaign. It received little attention during the 2016 presidential race. In three presidential debates and one vice presidential face-off, the topic was never raised specifically.

    But Inslee said the time is right to make climate change a central issue because it’s no longer a hypothetical but something that “touches everyone in every part of the country” and “every aspect of life.”

    Just before the 2018 midterm elections, Gallup released findings that placed climate change as the fifth-most-important issue to Democratic voters, behind topics like health care and wealth inequality. Still, 75 percent of Democrats said it was an extremely or very important topic, compared with just 27 percent of Republicans. We can see how much the parties have diverged on the issue using a Gallup question that looks at concern about climate change. In 1990, the share of Americans who worried a great deal or a fair amount about global warming did not really differ by party identification. Today, Democrats and Republicans are a world apart.

    Given the level of concern among Democrats, perhaps a campaign that homes in on climate change can help Inslee make inroads on the left during the primaries. It’s a topic receiving a lot of attention at the moment because of the proposed “Green New Deal” being pushed by some progressive Democratic House members. Moreover, Democrats can easily use the issue to attack the president’s record. The Trump administration has hindered efforts to address global warming by withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement and working to roll back auto fuel efficiency standards.

    But putting climate change ahead of all other issues could be risky, Stanford University psychologist Jon Krosnick said. He has helped lead national surveys of public opinions on climate change since 1995 that have found that most voters don’t make their ballot box decisions based on climate change alone. Krosnick’s surveys show that about 18 percent of voters are passionate about climate change, which means that “taking a stand on this issue is electorally very wise, but making this a signature issue is probably unwise.”

    Inslee plans to try anyway. He’s framing climate change as a threat to national security that warrants a huge government response on a scale akin to the Manhattan Project or NASA’s program to put humans on the moon. “This is the eleventh hour, but it should be our hour to shine and for we, as Americans, to do what we do best, which is to create, innovate and build,” Inslee said. His goal is to make the economy less reliant on fossil fuels over the next several decades, a task he called “a massive undertaking requiring a huge concentration of our intellectual talents, our entrepreneurial zeal, and to some degree, our investment.”

    To achieve this goal, he advocates for clean fuel standards to reduce emissions from vehicles. He wants to revamp the U.S. electrical grid with a 100 percent clean power plan like the one he’s pushing for in his state of Washington, make buildings “net zero” emissions with stringent building codes, and promote alternative energy with subsidies.

    It will be interesting to see whether he proposes a carbon tax to help him accomplish some of those goals. It’s an approach that has broad support from economists across the political spectrum, yet Inslee has been unable to get one passed by voters or the legislature in his own state. He doesn’t think that makes it kryptonite. “A carbon tax is just one of the tools in the toolbox,” he said, adding that it may not be the most important one. The carbon tax that failed in Washington didn’t derive most of its carbon savings from the signal to consumers sent by higher carbon prices, Inslee said, but, rather, from “putting people to work on building and installing solar arrays and building homes and businesses that are net zero. That’s where you’ve actually got the carbon savings.”

    Is the failure of that carbon-tax measure in his own state an omen or just a bump in the road for Inslee? Whichever it is, it hasn’t nudged him off his strategy. “I believe that contrast is good in elections,” Inslee said, and the contrast between Democrats and Republicans on climate issues is stark. “We should embrace that contrast, magnify it, and run with it.”

      Washington governor nixes Vancouver oil train terminal

      Repost from The Oregonian – Oregon  Live / Oregon Business News

      Washington governor nixes Vancouver oil train terminal

      Updated Jan 29, 5:30 PM; Posted Jan 29, 5:28 PM
      By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian/OregonLive
      The Port of Vancouver's rail loop was proposed to serve a 360,000-barrel-a-day oil train terminal under a proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos.  (Courtesy of Port of Vancouver)
      The Port of Vancouver’s rail loop was proposed to serve a 360,000-barrel-a-day oil train terminal under a proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos. (Courtesy of Port of Vancouver) (Port of Vancouver)

      Washington’s governor on Monday put a presumed end to a proposed oil-by-rail export terminal at the Port of Vancouver, notifying state regulators that he agreed with their unanimous decision to reject the controversial project.

      The state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council voted in November to recommend that Gov. Jay Inslee deny the Tesoro-Savage proposal. In a letter announcing his decision, Inslee said he found ample support in the record for the council’s decision that the project was wrong for the proposed site, including risks posed by a large earthquake, an oil spill or an explosion or fire at the facility.

      Inslee said the facility posed potentially catastrophic risks to the public and there was no way to mitigate the impacts that that an oil spill would have on water quality, wetlands, fish and wildlife.

      “The Council found that emergency responders are unlikely to be able to successfully respond to a major incident at the facility,” Inslee wrote.

      Vancouver Energy, a joint venture of the Tesoro Corp, now known as Andeavor, and Savage Co.s, has 30 days to appeal the governor’s decision in Thurston County Superior Court. A spokesman for Savage said the company would have a statement, but had not issued one yet.

      The companies had proposed spending $210 million on a terminal at Port of Vancouver to transfer 360,000 barrels a day of Bakken crude from trains onto marine vessels for shipment to West Coast refineries. Supporters pointed to the jobs and property taxes that would be generated by the facility.

      Dan Serres, conservation director for the advocacy group Columbia Riverkeeper, said the proposal attracted unprecedented opposition from a cross-section of businesses, environmental groups and citizens. And while the company could appeal the decision, Serres said they’d be doing so without a lease as the Port of Vancouver has already signaled its intent to seek other options as of March 31.

      “The idea of putting five loaded oil trains a day down the Columbia River Gorge was irresponsible, and after Mosier, that became clear,” said Serres, referring to the fiery derailment of an oil train near the town of Mosier in June 2016.  “We’re just overjoyed to see them go away. This one’s over.”

      -Ted Sickinger