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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inslee tours sustainability projects at Eastern Washington University, Spokane Falls Community College

Gov. Jay Inslee got a first-hand look at the Palouse Prairie restoration project undertaken by Eastern Washington University that includes replanting native flora.

The project is unfolding on 120 acres of college land to better understand what was lost during the past 150 years of intensive agricultural practices.

The governor’s Thursday visit provided him a peek at just some of the environmental sustainability projects unfolding at EWU and Spokane Falls Community College.

After his stop in Cheney, Inslee drove to SFCC to meet with students from the college’s Environmental Club for a discussion on their work as well as a roundtable discussion on climate change issues.

“I saw a continuation of the narrative that Spokane County is a leading place in bringing a clean energy future to the state of Washington,” Inslee said regarding the programs he saw during Thursday’s tour. “I believed this for a long time.”

Climate change, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability have long been among Inslee’s priorities, including when such issues were a focal point of his presidential campaign in 2019. His refrains Thursday were similar to his visit earlier this year to Gonzaga University and the Spokane Transit Authority.

He touted the state’s $16.9 billion Move Ahead Washington transportation package as the “largest, cleanest, greenest transportation package in the state’s history.” The package included the Clean Cars 2030 legislation, calling for all new vehicles sold in the state to be electric-powered by 2030.

“All of that progress going on in Spokane County is really encouraging,” Inslee said. “I think people have a lot to be proud of here with really pushing the envelope on giving us a clean energy future. And these students, they’ll tell you why that’s important because they’d like to have a planet to live on, but it’s also an economic benefit.”

One of the notable undertakings by SFCC’s Environmental Club was the restoration of the college’s community garden along Elliott Drive. Students and staff are cultivating produce from seeds donated to the club.

During his roundtable discussion with SFCC students, Inslee asked them their opinions on how to mobilize people on climate issues and what priorities the state should take in protecting the environment.

“You guys are an inspiration,” he told the students. “My one criticism of your generation is that you’re not critical enough of mine.”

He also made a donation of his own Thursday to bring the trip full circle: A packet of seeds from the Palouse Prairie restoration project that he got earlier at EWU.

“He made a great point: His generation doesn’t always understand the concerns that we have,” said Devin Moreno, an Environmental Club member. “When he comes and listens to us, it shows that he really does care and it shows that he does want to hear from us. Not a lot of politicians do that, let alone governors.”