Once upon a time, Gov. Jay Inslee stood against climate change. Washingtonians were buoyed by his 2014 order that promised clean energy businesses, new renewable energy sources, and a firm stance against climate change. Our once steadfast advocate seems to have lost his way.
In August, Inslee publicly supported plans to build three refineries that would ship petrochemicals to China, calling it a giant leap toward Washington’s “clean energy future.” He must be confused.
Inslee declared a state of drought in 2015, which resulted in a $1.2 billion crop loss, but these refineries, proposed for Kalama, the Port of Tacoma, and Port Westward in Clatskanie, would each consume 10,000-20,000 gallons of freshwater per minute; that’s 7.8 billion gallons a year. He has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, but pipelines for fracked natural gas, the raw material in methanol, leak methane – a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Inslee's business-as-usual approach to “green” petrochemicals might indeed be motivated by the $5.4 billion dollars China has promised to build the refineries.
If Washington is, in fact, an international leader in energy conservation and environmental stewardship like we claim, what kind of message are we sending world leaders with these refineries? If climate change is what Inslee calls “the existential issue,” the governor needs to wake up to what clean energy really looks like and support the thousands of citizens who say “no” to methanol in the Northwest.