UPDATE: This piece has been updated to include a statement from the Office of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington is leaving office with emissions and energy costs significantly higher than when he first became governor, according to the most recently available government data.
Inslee first took office in 2012, and has championed aggressive climate change related legislation — including recent legislation to tax fossil fuel use and an upcoming ban on the sale of gas cars — something he considers a crowning achievement, according to The Washington Post. Despite this, greenhouse gas emissions were up by 8% between when the governor first took office in January 2013 and near the end of his second term in 2019, according to a December 2022 report from the Washington Department of Ecology which cites the most recent data available. (RELATED: Blue State Is Imposing A New Climate Policy And Gas Prices Are Already Skyrocketing)
Statewide gasoline prices surged $0.80 since the new year, from nearly $3.70 to nearly $4.50, after the implementation of a cap-and-trade program designed to limit gasoline use, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gas prices are up roughly 18.4% overall since Inslee took office, when gas was roughly $3.38 per gallon.
Utility Natural gas costs skyrocketed by 12.6% in November 2022, after state regulators approved rate hikes for all four of the state’s natural gas providers, as natural gas prices soared amid the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Compared to when Inslee took office in 2013, natural gas prices had climbed by roughly 34% by February 2023, from $8.39 per thousand cubic feet to $11.27, according to the EIA.
Electricity costs in the state have also climbed, from $0.087 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) in 2013 to $0.101 per kwh in 2021, roughly a 16% climb, according to the most recently available statewide data from the EIA. Energy costs in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area have climbed from roughly $0.093 per kwh in Jan. 2013 to $0.126 in March 2023, a more than 35% increase, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
President Joe Biden in early May told Inslee that the Washington Democrat had influenced his approach to climate change policy, the governor told the Post. Biden’s signature climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, which private analysts expect to spend more than $1.2 trillion on the president’s push to rapidly grow the U.S. green manufacturing sector.
“In 2012, emissions began growing but at a much slower pace than our state’s robust economic and population growth in the decade since,” Mike Faulk, a spokesperson for the office of Gov. Jay Inslee, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The upswing in 2019 was driven by low water behind our state’s hydroelectric dams coupled with a colder winter that drove up heating demand.”
“All of the state’s biggest policy achievements to slash emissions have come since 2019, beginning with passage of the Clean Energy Transformation Act in 2019 that requires the state’s electric utilities to fully transition to clean energy by 2045, Faulk continued. “This was followed by the passage of a clean fuel standard to reduce the emissions intensity of transportation fuels in the state…put[ting] us on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050…the state will lower the cap on emissions over time to reach the state’s goal.”
“I am proud to have played a role in our state’s leadership on so many fronts,” said Inslee in a Monday statement announcing he would not run again in 2024. “We’ve passed the nation’s best climate policies, the most successful family leave benefits, the best college scholarship programs, a more fair legal justice system, and the most protective actions against gun violence. We’ve shown that diversity is a strength worth fighting for. This has been ten years of dynamic success.
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