Jay Inslee has been in the news recently, from his fruitful (read campaign $$$) friendship with California billionaire Tom Steyer, to his Executive Order establishing a task force to consider how to raise the state’s gas tax by more than $1 to make people like Steyer happy with him, to an appearance next Monday on Showtime to highlight him being a “green” (read “inexperienced”) chief executive.
What Inslee had hoped people wouldn’t be seeing in the news is how he misled the legislature, the media and the general public about his plans to use his executive powers to impose a “low carbon fuel standard” (LCFS, or read “gas tax”) on Washington motorists. Yet, after waiting over three months for his office to comply with a public records request, SHIFT has uncovered the truth about Inslee’s plans.
It turns out that – contrary to what has been publically said repeatedly – Inslee and his staff had promised their partners in the Pacific Coast Collaborative (the Governors of California and Oregon, and the British Columbia Premier) that Washington would “establish LCFS by administrative rule” in “Q1 2015”. That target date was listed in a working draft (PDF) for the PCC that has not been released previously.
However, that promise is something which Inslee has denied in several high-profile ways. He said at a January forum hosted by the Associated Press that “we have not made a decision on it (a LCFS).” And in a letter attacking State Senate Republicans for questioning his plans to impose his gas-tax scheme, Inslee wrote “That you say I have to “come clean” implies I have in some way been hiding my intentions. This is offensive and untrue.”
Inslee also used his senior staff to push out his false narrative. Spokesman David Postman said in January of this year that “No decision has been made about fuel standards, and much work and analysis has to happen before any decision is made about which policies should be pursued to reduce carbon pollution.” Yet Postman, a former journalist, was well aware that was not a true statement, given the PCC promises, as he was the media contact on the day the agreement was announced last Oct. 28, and was on several emails leading up to the development of the agreement.
Staff at the Department of Ecology were also involved in helping Inslee mislead the public, as Stuart Clark (manager of the agency’s air-quality program) was the person charged with making changes to the “Workplan Template” that featured the LCFS promise, including moving the target date for Inslee’s administrative action to impose his gas tax until after this fall’s elections. This is the same Stuart Clark who told a reporter in January that Ecology had not considered its ability to impose such a policy since Chris Gregoire was in the Governor’s office four years ago: “That is as far as we have looked at it,” Clark says. “It is a major policy issue if you do something like this, and we certainly want to take our direction from the governor’s office before we move forward.”
Getting to the truth required sifting through some 2,000 pages of emails and work plans which the Governor’s office had been dragging its feet on releasing until after the legislature adjourned this year. More revelations will be forthcoming as we continue our investigation about Jay Inslee’s willingness to say one thing in public and something else in private when it suits his extreme environmental political agenda.
Of course, one person who knew all along about Inslee’s promise to do what he had been saying publically he was not planning to do was his billionaire buddy from San Francisco, Tom Steyer. Records show that Steyer hosted Inslee for an “intimate dinner” on the evening that the PCC agreement was announced on Oct. 28.