ANACORTES — Gov. Jay Inslee visited Seafarers’ Memorial Park in Anacortes on Tuesday to speak in support of two climate bills currently in the state Legislature.
Joining him in support of the bills were Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman Steve Edwards, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Executive Director Matthew Hepner and Michelle Simmons of Silfab Solar, a solar panel company in Bellingham.
Inslee compared carbon pollution to a virus, and said it is contributing to the demise of salmon and orcas, as well as increasing wildfires throughout the country.
“As we are defeating COVID-19 with science, confidence and action, we have to take similar action against the climate crisis, and we know that we can do this,” Inslee said.
He then called on the public and legislators to support Senate Bill 5126, known as the Climate Commitment Act, as well as the Clean Fuel Standard outlined in House Bill 1091.
The Climate Commitment Act lays out a cap and invest program that would allow companies to purchase up to a certain amount of emissions allowances. Revenue generated would go to clean energy projects.
Inslee said its implementation would not result in increased fuel prices, but would increase the state’s production of cleaner fuels.
House Bill 1091, meanwhile, outlines a plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from transportation to 10% below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20% below 2017 levels by 2035.
Inslee said both bills are necessary to meet the state’s overall carbon emission goals.
Edwards spoke of the effects climate change has had on the tribe and called on the Legislature to vote in favor of the bills.
“Today, because of a couple hundred years of industrialization and other human activities, many things we hold dear to us are at risk,” Edwards said. “I can’t be certain my grandchildren will be able to fish as I have.”
While state Sen. Liz Lovelett and state Rep. Debra Lekanoff have co-sponsored legislation — known jointly as the Washington STRONG Act — aimed at reducing carbon emissions through carbon pricing rather than a cap system, Inslee contends that the Climate Commitment Act is the best way forward.
“It make sense because it has … a concrete ceiling that we cannot allow polluters to exceed. It is the only plan that has that,” he said. “It is a legal prohibition against excess pollution.”