Things turn nasty in Olympia over climate change

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and Republican Sen. Curtis King may have set down their poison pens but are no closer to forging agreement on a transportation funding package.

Their exchange of stinging missives last week on low-carbon fuel standards continues to punctuate negotiations and imperil chances of a bipartisan deal getting inked this session.

King, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, is convinced Inslee will wait until lawmakers depart Olympia in March then unilaterally impose tougher standards for the level of carbon allowed in fuel sold to motorists.

He insists this will drive up the price of gas and wants the governor to categorically deny he would act in such a manner.

Inslee unquestionably views a low-carbon standard as a mechanism for developing cleaner fuels and a critical weapon in the fight against climate change which he’s made a signature issue in his first term.

But he said he’s not discussed adopting any specific standard nor proposed anything resembling what King calls a “carbon fuel tax.” In other words, there is nothing up his sleeve and thus nothing to deny.

What sparked the vitriolic scrap, especially when it seemed the sticking points between the House, Senate and governor were on things like what to do with the sales tax on road projects and the amount of money going to transit districts?

It is the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy signed in October by the governors of California, Oregon and Washington, and the premier of British Columbia.

As documents go, this is a fine specimen of political speak, containing an iteration of lofty promises and an escape clause for leaders to not keep them.

In one section it says, “Washington will set binding limits on carbon emissions and deploy market mechanisms to meet those limits.” Translated, that’s a pledge for a cap-and-trade system which is a very divisive issue in the Legislature.

In another part on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, it reads, “Oregon and Washington will adopt low-carbon fuels standards.”

No surprise King and his colleagues are inflating much import to those words to keep the governor on the defensive about his intentions and derail any attempt at enacting new rules.

Inslee is doing what he can to deflate the significance of what he signed, saying repeatedly there’s no proposals drafted and none will be pursued before studies are done and public hearings held.

Moreover, the pact itself seems to bolster his case by concluding with a clear statement that nothing in it is “legally binding” on Washington.

That disclaimer isn’t proving to be a calming influence in Olympia where already slim chances of reaching an accord on a transportation funding package worsen as long as there are unresolved differences between Inslee and King.

Ironically, moving forward on a package is the one thing both men agreed upon in the nasty letters they sent each other.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Air and ground search and rescue teams found Jerry Riedinger’s plane near Humpback Mountain on Monday. (WSDOT photo)
Remains of pilot recovered near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger never made it to Ephrata after departing the Arlington airport Sunday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

Federal prosecutors say the two men shown here outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are Tucker Weston, left, and Jesse Watson. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Lynnwood roommates sentenced for roles in Jan. 6 riot

Tucker Weston was given two years in prison Thursday. Jesse Watson received three years of probation in August 2023.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

A truck towing a travel trailer crashed into a home in the Esperance neighborhood Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (South County Fire)
Man seriously injured after his truck rolls into Edmonds home

One resident was inside the home in the 22500 block of 8th Avenue W, but wasn’t injured, fire officials said.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Memorial Day holiday weekend travel nightmare is upon us

Going somewhere this weekend? You’ll have lots of company — 44 million new BFFs — on planes, trains and automobiles.

Bothell
Bothell family says racism at Seattle Children’s led to teen’s death

In February 2021, Sahana Ramesh, the daughter of Indian immigrants, died after months of suffering from a rare disease.

Boeing Firefighters and supporters have a camp set up outside of Boeing on Airport Road as the company’s lockout of union firefighters approaches two weeks on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Union firefighters reject Boeing’s latest contract offer

The union’s 125 firefighters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the offer, which included “an improved wage growth” schedule

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

Suzan DelBene, left, Rick Larsen
Larsen, DelBene request over $40M for projects in Snohomish County

If approved, Congress would foot the bill for traffic fixes, public transit, LED lights and much more around the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.