Throughout 2013 and early 2014, Jay 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. And, in a letter attacking State Senate Republicans for questioning his plans to impose a fuel mandate, 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’s staff and Olympia bureaucrats also engaged in the fierce denial. Spokesman David Postman said in January 2014,“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.” Stuart Clark (manager of the Department of Ecology’s air-quality program) told a reporter in January 2014 that Ecology had not considered imposing a fuel mandate since Chris Gregoire was in the governor’s office four years ago. “That is as far as we have looked at it,” Clark said. “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.”
In spring of 2014, Shift uncovered the truth about Inslee’s plans to implement a fuel mandate by executive order—proving that Inslee, Postman and Clark deliberately misled the media and the public regarding their plan. It took reading through some 2,000 pages of emails and work plans acquired via a public records request from the Governor’s office, but the truth came out in the end.
Shift’s investigation revealed that Inslee and his staff promised their partners in the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC), which include the governors of California and Oregon, and the British Columbia Premier, that Washington would establish a fuel mandate by “administrative rule” in “Q1 2015.” That target date was listed in a working draft for the PCC that had not been released to the public.
Inslee was well aware that his statements of denial were not true, as was Postman. In fact, Shift’s investigation revealed that Postman acted as the media contact on October 28, 2013—the day the PCC agreement was announced. Postman was also on several emails leading up to the development of the agreement. As for Clark, he was the person charged with making changes to the “Workplan Template” that featured the fuel mandate promise, including moving the target date for Inslee’s administrative action to impose his gas tax until after this fall’s elections.
Shift’s investigation forced Inslee to abandon his attempts of denial. Instead, he reverted to avoiding the issue and attacking Republicans—a strategy he has employed ever since. As Shift reported in June 2014, Inslee made his disdain for the Legislature—specifically Republicans—loud and clear during an appearance on KCTS 9’s Ask the Governor. Inslee responded to a question concerning his possible use of an executive order to force his extreme fuel mandate agenda through by attacking Republicans and implying that it would come down to him to “solve the problem.”
The results of Shift’s investigation forced Inslee to publically address another significant finding concerning his fuel mandate—the fact that his paid consultants predicted his fuel mandate would result in a $1.17 per gallon increase in fuel prices. Inslee and his staff set off on a mission to debunk his own consultant’s $1.17 gas tax projections. But, their efforts fell short. Energy experts have confirmed the accuracy of the $1-plus gas tax estimate.
In December 2014, Inslee signaled to legislators that he would not ask them to vote on his fuel mandate plans. Instead, he informed them of how he “will proceed with further consideration” of a fuel mandate using the bureaucracy to run the show. Inslee also told lawmakers that he instructed the Department of Ecology to draft a supporting “rule” for a fuel mandate and that he would set a time period for legislators to issue their comments. As Shift reported, the time period set aside for even minimal consultation with legislators is a mere formality—required by law for any “rule” issued by bureaucrats.
Earlier this month, in an unpublicized email to a state representative, Inslee finally set the timeline for jamming his executive order through. Legislators and the public have from February 4th-28th to submit comments on Ecology’s fuel mandate rule. At the conclusion of the allotted time period, Inslee will have met the minimal legal obligations for issuing an executive order.
For years, Inslee veiled his plan to implement a fuel mandate by executive order in a cloud of secrecy and lies—and for good reason. Inslee knows that the only way to implement his fuel mandate is through secrecy and misinformation—the public does not want it and the Legislature would not support it.
As Shift reported, opposition to Inslee’s plan for a fuel mandate is well documented. Voters (80%) and small business owners (75%) believe an increase in gas prices – from a range of estimates from 13 cents to $1.47 that Jay Inslee’s fuel mandate might cost according to various experts – is too much to pay for a policy that doesn’t benefit our state. Additionally, a whopping 90% of voters and 95% of small businesses do not want to see Inslee’s force a fuel mandate via executive order, instead of putting his proposal up for legislative debate.
Unlike his numerous no-new-taxes campaign promises, the fuel mandate promise Inslee made to partners in the Pacific Coast Collaborative is a promise he means to keep. Inslee is well on his way toward implementing a fuel mandate by executive order, and he’s been able to get this far by flying under the radar. Most Washingtonians are unaware of Inslee’s fuel mandate plan; media outlets are distracted by how Inslee’s cap-and-tax scheme is playing out in the Legislature.
That’s why Shift launched a plan of our own, a plan to clear the air and raise awareness. But, we need your help. Please consider helping us by doing two things right now, if you haven’t done so already.
- Sign our petition asking Jay Inslee to do the right thing and allow the legislature to vote on his fuel mandate.
- Order our pre-printed Post-It notes. Every time you fill up your vehicle, leave a sticky note behind on the gas pump to let the next person know about Inslee’s plans. Remember to take a picture of the note to send to us, so we can add it to our statewide map.