It’s been no secret that Jay Inslee has an obsession with implementing a fuel mandate. Our green governor has signaled—time and time again—that he would bypass the state Legislature and implement his fuel mandate. In 2013, he signed an agreement with California, Oregon and British Columbia in which he promised to implement his fuel mandate by executive order this year.
Throughout 2013 and early 2014, Inslee and his staff denied the existence of any plan to bypass the Legislature and implement a fuel mandate by executive order. At a January 2014 forum hosted by the Associated Press, Inslee claimed not to have made a decision concerning a fuel mandate. That proved to be false. Shift’s investigation—which discovered the true intention of the PCC agreement—forced Inslee to abandon his denials and tell the truth.
It’s not hard to understand why Inslee attempted to keep his fuel mandate plans under wraps for so long. After all, there isn’t much to commend the policy. Wherever implemented, it has failed and/or led to high fuel costs. Washington State would be no exception. Inslee’s own consultant estimated that his fuel mandate could result in a $1.17 gas hike. Experts agree on the probability of a $1 plus increase. Washington State’s own budget writers predicted that reaching Inslee’s defined carbon-reduction goal would add an additional $1.47 to the cost of gas.
But, that’s not all. According to a study by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), Inslee’s fuel mandate would cost Washington State more than 11,000 jobs over the next five years.
Making matters worse, the heavy burden a fuel mandate would inflict on working families and the economic well-being would, ultimately, be for not. According to our state’s analysis, a fuel mandate would do almost nothing to reduce CO2 and NO2 levels in our state. Here are the expected results:
- NO2 would be reduced by a maximum of one percent in 2026.
- Under most scenarios, particulate matter (PM2.5), another pollutant of concern, would be reduced by a maximum of one-half of one percent (0.5%), ten years from now.
- An LCFS would reduce Washington’s carbon emissions by about 2.5 percent by 2026. During the decade from 2016-2026, it would reduce emissions by less than two percent.
Essentially, Inslee’s fuel mandate—by even the most optimistic projections—would produce results that are virtually meaningless to air pollution reduction and/or human health. The reality is Washington State emits approximately 1/10 of 1% of the world’s carbon emissions. A fuel mandate will have virtually no impact on reducing carbon emissions. But, it would raise the price of gas on working families and threaten jobs.
That’s why Senate Republicans took steps to protect Washington’s working families and businesses against Inslee’s fuel mandate. Republicans agreed to a bi-partisan transportation package that includes an all-important consumer protection provision that would move funding from transit and bike paths into street and bridge improvements if Inslee were to impose his fuel mandate by executive order.
That agreement appeared to have settled the issue. It didn’t seem plausible to anyone that Inslee would sacrifice the funding of transportation projects heavily favored by the left to pursue his fuel mandate agenda. Now, it appears, Inslee’s obsession with his fuel mandate has been underestimated.
Inslee is considering implementing a fuel mandate by executive order anyway. According to spokesman David Postman, our green governor is “reviewing options” on his fuel mandate and discussing those options with “lawmakers, transit and bike advocates, seniors, environmentalists, business people and others.” If anyone of those “options” involved adopting a fuel mandate, Inslee would wipe out an estimated $2 billion in non-vehicular projects.
The fact that Inslee is even considering moving forward with his fuel mandate has set various advocacy groups (including “green” organizations) and Republicans in an uproar. Washington Safe Routes to School, a lefty advocacy group, is asking its supporters to demand Inslee not implement his extreme green agenda at the “cost of children’s health and safety.” The organization’s recent email reads,
“A few days ago, Washingtonians celebrated a historic commitment to investing in safe streets, new sidewalks, and bike pathways for school kids and communities…
“Now, we’re learning that these investments could be wiped away. The transportation package included a “poison pill” amendment that would eliminate nearly $2 billion in funding for transit, bicycling and walking if the Inslee administration enacts a low carbon fuel standard. Governor Inslee is considering doing so in spite of the fact this action would mean all Safe Routes to School, bicycling, and walking funding would instead go to roads…”
Washington Safe Routes to School is not alone in demanding Inslee back off. The far-left Cascade Bicycle Club has also send out an action alert to its supporters urging them to apply pressure on Inslee to not move forward with his executive order plans. And, the far left transit advocacy group Transportation Choices Coalition is urging Inslee to “hit the pause button” before triggering the consumer protection provision clause.
The Association of Washington Business is also doing its part to urge Inslee to stop. The AWB has warned that “businesses in Washington had a tough enough time coming to terms” with the gas tax included in the transportation package. Further burdening businesses with the much larger gas tax promised by a fuel mandate would “put Washington at a real competitive disadvantage with other states.”
So, why is Inslee taking on all the political risk for the sake of his fuel mandate (a fuel mandate that is worthless in very sense of the word)? Well, it appears that Inslee believes there is a gamble to be made. If Inslee implements a fuel mandate, he would pull $2 billion in funding for transit and pedestrian projects. That is a given.
Inslee, however, is banking on the public/his far left supporters blaming Republicans for the loss of funding for the projects. And, he appears to believe that, under pressure, Republicans will evidently agree to re-fund the projects during the next legislative session. That is, as even Democrat State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon admits, quite the risky gamble to make. Fitzgibbon stated that restoring funding would be a hard fought battle.
Indeed, the entire strategy banks on the blame actually falling on Republicans. Considering the re-action our green governor has already received from even those on the left, it isn’t likely to play out the way Inslee may believe.
Inslee claims to not have decided whether or not he would swallow the “poison pill’ when he signed the transportation package into law last week. But, the reality is that right when he signed the bill, he swallowed the pill.
Inslee signed the bill knowing what it contained. At one point he said, “I will sign the bill even with this provision because of the jobs, safety improvements and traffic relief that the investments would provide.”
A recent editorial pointed out that Republicans “had to swallow hard accepting an 11.9-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase that will fund construction.” Now it’s time for Inslee to swallow hard and accept the transportation package and everything that comes with it.
Inslee has everything to lose in this scenario. That’s “should accept the deal he wrung from Republicans. After all, as the Spokesman-Review put it, “not many will care fewer bicyclists will be sharing the road if the governor goes for the new fuel standards.”