SEATTLE – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday the state will move forward with efforts to promote clean energy and tackle climate change despite “foolishness” from President Donald Trump.
“I’m proud to say our state will remain undeterred and we will not be slowed one iota by the foolishness that we’re hearing out of the White House,” the Democrat told reporters at a media briefing in Olympia.
Asked about his response to a potential shift in focus at the Environmental Protection Agency under Trump, Inslee also said the state “can be and must be masters of our own destiny” when it comes to fighting carbon pollution in the state.
“We see no reason to believe we will receive assistance from the federal government under this president,” he added.
The Associated Press earlier reported that members of Trump’s transition team at EPA this week issued what has been described as a temporary freeze on all contract approvals and grant awards. The Trump administration is also scrutinizing studies and data published by scientists at the EPA, while new work is under a “temporary hold” before it can be released.
Inslee told reporters Thursday that Washington state is already taking action to reduce carbon pollution and will continue to do so. He noted that the state recently passed a clean-air rule that limits greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s top carbon polluters and has backed efforts to boost clean energy technology and research.
“Our state is not going to be slowed down with what we do. We’re not going to be stopped by people who believe this is a hoax,” said Inslee, who has made climate a top priority since taking office in 2013.
Inslee is currently trying to convince state lawmakers to approve a new state tax on carbon emissions from fossil fuels to raise nearly $2 billion in the first year for education, clean energy, transportation, forest health and other projects. Some money would offset taxes to business and help low-income families.
The proposal is certain to face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate. Critics say increased costs will be passed on to consumers at the gas pump and in heating bills. Inslee’s previous plan to charge a fee for carbon pollution did not gain traction in the Legislature in 2015.
Meanwhile, many are still figuring out what a temporary freeze on EPA contracts and grants could mean for them.
“We haven’t heard formally from EPA. We’re waiting to see what happens,” said Sandi Peck, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Ecology, which received about $48 million from EPA last year. Peck said most of that money went to water quality, and about 80 percent of it was passed along to communities and others.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Democrat from Washington, has joined other Democratic members of the House subcommittee that funds the EPA to call on Trump to explain the recent EPA actions. In a letter Thursday to the president, they called the halt of EPA funding “unacceptable.”
The EPA awarded 399 grants and 258 contracts to Washington constituents in fiscal year 2016, amounting to $186 million in federal assistance, including to tribes, Kilmer’s office said.
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