Gov. Jay Inlsee met with lawmakers on Wednesday to urge action on climate change with a focus on clean energy innovation.
Speaking with members of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, Inlsee said inaction on carbon pollution could cost Washington’s economy $10 billion by 2020.
“It is an enormous loss if we don’t seize this opportunity,” Inslee said.
Members of the Republican-led committee raised concerns over excess energy and the higher costs associated with clean energy investment.
“Our great advantage in Washington state is our low-cost energy for manufacturing, whether it be aluminum or airplanes,” said chairman Doug Ericksen (R-Bellingham). “How do we move forward with the concept and create the clean sector jobs without losing the manufacturing job base that we currently have here.”
Inlsee said he was open to working to with lawmakers to find answers, but said stalling on clean energy legislation would cost the state in the long run. He said the state is already paying more for fire suppression and ocean acidification is forcing some shellfish businesses to move their operations out of state.
“When we talk about carbon pollution, it is really easy to forget about the cost of inaction. There is a cost we will all be incurring if we don’t act.”
The governor also told lawmakers he was open to exploring all new carbon-free forms of energy, including small-scale nuclear projects proposed in the Tri-Cities area.
“Whether we agree on the science of climate change and carbon totally, that may not be true,” Erickson said. “But what we do agree on is we want to work on these big, bold opportunities we have in front of us.”