Gov. Jay Inslee Is Taking a Well-Earned Climate Victory Lap

It’s gratifying to me for a couple of reasons, because some things that I was once mocked for saying — in 2009 or 2010, I brought a Chevy Volt, the prototype for the hybrid electric, to Capitol Hill because I wanted to show my colleagues, “Look what’s coming. Electric cars are coming.” They brought it in a U-Haul truck and they rolled it down. I had a bunch of my colleagues there, and they rolled it down the ramp and then we popped the hood, and there’s nothing in it. My buddy said, “Well, what’s the deal here?” I said, “Well, this is just kind of a mock-up.” I was just being teased mercilessly by my friends — “This is ridiculous. This isn’t even a toy at this point.” Now people have a waiting list for the F-150, the Lightning, 10 miles long. In a decade. It’s just very gratifying to see that.

But I also have to tell you, just on a personal level, I went hiking up in both Comet Falls and Mount Rainier the other day. I looked at the Alpine Meadows and thought about how they are at such risk right now. These are places my mom and dad worked on, Alpine Meadows and Mount Rainier, during summers. And I know that we’ve lost 45 percent of our glaciers — Olympic National Park, and the same thing’s happening on Rainier. It’s just great to see action today, knowing that Alpine Meadows might have a chance for my grandkids. Feels pretty good.

We talked about how this has become so important to the Democratic coalition. But I wanted to ask you how you see that playing out on the other side of the aisle. Personally, I’ve been really struck by how little response there’s really been to this bill from the right. It feels like they’re so much more focused on critical race theory and pandemic policy and inflation. Five years ago, a bill of even this size, even as compromised as it is and even as focused on subsidy as opposed to taxation, I think it would have been a huge rallying cry for Republicans across the country to oppose it. And now what I see feels much more like acquiescence.

I think there’s a clear reason for that. They know they’re wrong. They know climate change is eating us alive. These people know how to read and they know this is a disaster. And when you know you’re wrong, all you can do is hush up, and that’s what they’re doing.

It’s pathetic and it’s alarming and it’s sad. But it’s the reality.

It’s true of course that the I.R.A. got no Republican votes. But I think also about the infrastructure bill, which was not talked about in climate terms, but packed a fair amount of climate punch in it, and which was passed on a bipartisan basis. Does a growing silence about climate on the right open up more opportunities like that, do you think?

Absolutely not. There isn’t a single Republican in my state who has lifted a finger on climate change. And until the Republican Party starts to develop a positive effort, the only solution is for them to stay out of public life — to remain in private life, where they can’t do any harm.

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