Democrats and Republicans clashed Friday during a meeting of the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup, created by the Legislature to recommend ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Legislature in 2008 passed a law calling for the state to reduce total greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The climate panel, created at the request of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, has been meeting since May to try to hash out recommendations to the governor and the Legislature. There are two Republicans and two Democrats on the panel. Inslee is a nonvoting member.
At Friday’s meeting Inslee tested the waters on whether to recommend that the Legislature adopt a cap on carbon pollution “with binding limits and market mechanisms,” a topic he’s broached before.
“My view is the committee ought to recommend that we do take action … that inaction is not an option,” Inslee told the panel, adding later ,“In order to achieve a binding, successful program of carbon-pollution reduction, our state needs a cap … We cannot allow unlimited spewing of carbon dioxide into our air and eventually into our water. That may be the single most important thing that we can achieve for the state of Washington.”
When Inslee asked other members of the panel how they felt about his ideas, Republicans weren’t happy.
Both Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the state needed to look at the potential economic impacts of such proposals before moving ahead.
“I will not support a policy that I don’t know what the economic impacts on Washington state are going to be,” Short said.
Inslee pressed the matter, saying at one point, “I’m wondering about our ability … to reach consensus if we have several members who want to make recommendations and several who do not.”
Short snapped back that “What I really resent, governor, is you intimating that we don’t care … I just really resent being put into a corner today, governor.”
The debate devolved from there. Ericksen eventually asked for a short recess for everyone to cool off. They later agreed to adjourn, and come back for more discussions on a broad spectrum of ideas at the next meeting.
The panel has two more meetings scheduled, including a public hearing on Dec. 13.