Several weeks ago, I took the completely unsurprising step of endorsing Jay Inslee for governor.
I’m a Democrat; he’s a Democrat; no surprise. But I’ve worked well with Rob McKenna over the years, like him personally… and he’s the smartest guy in most (political) rooms. So a few folks were surprised (and/or annoyed) that I didn’t break from my party affiliation.
On Saturday, though, faced with another dirty, smoggy day in Jakarta, I was reminded why I’d endorsed Jay, who I don’t know very well except as a champion of the environment. I had given Jay my endorsement after comparing the position papers on energy and the environment prepared for – and approved by — both candidates.
The policy papers are superficial, to be sure, but it’s what we have to represent the candidate’s perspectives.
In truth, I get irritated with the environmental groups for being too granular and for being insufferably condescending to anyone who questions their strategies (which are sometimes completely lacking in any ROI). And their tendency to condescension does not endear them to people trying to eke a living from the land or to comply with multiple opaque DOE regulations. So I found myself gritting my teeth a little while reading Jay’s position paper.
But at least the environmentalists’ policy vision has a long term goal that benefits our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, not just today’s capital markets. The strategies may not yet quite clear, but the goals are undeniably good.
The position paper prepared for Rob’s campaign reflected the business-side argument that we don’t really need renewable energy and that it just burdens the state’s utilities and businesses. But then, ironically, the paper goes on to boast of the cheap, clean power created by the ever-loathed I-937 as a new business magnet! I agree that jobs are important, but I didn’t see any acknowledgement in this position paper of the sacrifice necessary to ensure a sustainable environment for future generations. The focus is entirely on the near term.
On Saturday morning, as I faced the smutty haze covering this otherwise wonderful city, I thought about the genesis of environmental responsibility and stewardship in the US, why our air is clear, our water clean. It was President Richard Nixon who established the EPA; Bill Ruckelshaus, another Republican, was its first administrator. Why, I thought, can’t today’s Republicans build on that legacy?
In the end, I can argue the Governor’s race for or against either candidate. And it doesn’t give me any pleasure to challenge my friend, Rob, on this issue during a campaign. But my heart and brain tells me that ignoring environmental issues, ducking the hard choices that will transform energy for future generations in favor of short-term gain, is not an option. Capital markets and economic interests in general are driven by profit and deny externalities in principle. It’s our social and moral obligation, I believe, to constrain and regulate capital markets for the greater good, and that includes our grandchildren’s air and water quality.
If we can’t get business and utility interests to see the importance of moving forward on GHG reduction, on maintaining clean air and water, on actually getting “beyond petroleum”, then we’ll just have to continue to support the environmental community’s work in dragging them into that clean, renewable-energy future. Kicking and screaming, if necessary. And if that’s picking winners and losers, a sound bite for Republicans that belies the complicated analysis behind it, then I’m all for it.
And that’s why I endorsed Jay Inslee.
Blame it on the Jakarta smog … and Richard Nixon.
State Representative, 48th District