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November 19, 2014 at 6:09 AM

Critics should wait for Inslee’s carbon plan before bashing it

Corrected version

You don’t have to strain your ears to hear the steady drumbeat of politicians and policy advocates wailing about Gov. Jay Inslee’s imminent low-carbon emissions proposal.

Gov. Jay Inslee viisited the Green River in Auburn, Oct. 28, as part of his climate tour of the state.

Gov. Jay Inslee visited the Green River in Auburn, Oct. 28, as part of his climate tour of the state. (AP Photo / Elaine Thompson)

Inslee appeared in Seattle Monday to accept recommendations from his Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce on a market-based carbon pollution plan.

“We also strongly encourage you to consider our substantive comments on your proposals, as the economic ramifications of those policies will ultimately determine their fate in Washington,” the legislative leaders wrote in a letter to Inslee.

Inslee’s goal is to tax carbon emissions on the front end, rather than deal with their more costly environmental, health and economic ramifications on the back-end. And he wants to use the resulting revenue bonanza to fund deficient state responsibilities, such as education and transportation.

His plan could be horrible. It may be a silver bullet. Odds are, it’ll be somewhere in between. And certainly concerns about how business and consumers will shoulder the radical policy change must be addressed.

But before the governor is slated as a tree-hugging dictator determined to scuttle the state economy, he at least deserves the chance to present his full plan to the voters of the state.

“People suggest there’s some cloak-and-dagger conspiracy thing,” he told me recently in his Olympia office. “I sit at this table [and meet] every month with the oil and gas industry leaders. I’ve had more meetings with the oil and gas industry than I have [with hedge fund billionaire, environmentalist and Inslee benefactor] Tom Steyer.”

Opponents also warn of Inslee’s threat to use executive powers to implement a clean fuel standard. The governor has said he has that power. But he’s also said he intends to expose his plan to “a long public comment process” before seeking legislative approval.

If he does what he says, there’ll be plenty of time to slate provisions for going too far, or not far enough.

The wolves at his door should at least wait until there’s an actual plan to sink their fangs into.

Information in this article, originally published Nove. 19, 2014 was corrected Dec. 15, 2014. A previous version of this story quoted criticisms by state Sens. Curtis King and Doug Ericksen on Gov. Jay Inslee’s report on low-carbon fuel standards, which were not related to his proposed carbon reduction pricing mechanisms. That quoted material has been removed.

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