Yesterday, in an act betraying the youth of Washington, “green” Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration appealed a Washington Superior Court decision ordering his administration to issue a rule limiting greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the year. Today, Inslee published an op-ed touting his climate record in The Hill with no mention of the case or his administration’s anti-environment appeal of the decision.
Inslee’s appeal of the youth win in court comes just six weeks after his office and his campaign praised the decision, and two weeks after the June 1, 2016 rollout of his proposed Clean Air Rule, supported by the fossil fuel and aluminum industries.
Following King County Superior Court Judge Hollis R. Hill’s unprecedented April 29, 2016 ruling in favor of eight young people and against the Department of Ecology, Inslee’s reelection campaign immediately sent out an email praising the victory:
“Thanks to those eight kids, the court has affirmed our plan to act, contrary to the assertion of those who continue to obstruct action on climate change and ocean acidification…That’s why this election is so important.”
Inslee’s email linked to this shorter statement collecting names for “a strong Clean Air Act”:
“Eight courageous kids went to court to compel us adults to take action on climate change. I’m happy to say that they won.”
Yesterday’s appeal of that court decision by Inslee’s administration contradicts that earlier statement. The same day his office sent the campaign email, the governor issued the following statement from his office praising the court’s decision and committing to follow through on what the court required:
“…the court is essentially reaffirming the need to do what we’ve already committed to doing, which is putting a policy in place by the end of the year that reduces carbon pollution in Washington state.”
But that is not the case. Inslee’s own Department of Ecology released this chart showing how his proposed Clean Air Rule falls short of complying with Washington law and protecting Washington youth and future generations from carbon pollution. “Please note that the green line is not based on science,” said Andrea Rodgers the Western Environmental Law Center attorney representing the youth. “In fact, Ecology has admitted ‘Washington State’s existing statutory limits should be adjusted to better reflect the current science.’”
Inslee’s proposed Clean Air Rule is supported by the International Emissions Trading Association, a business organization that includes BP, Chevron, Shell, Duke Energy, TransCanada as members. Aluminum producer Kaiser Aluminum has also expressed optimism about Inslee’s proposed rule.
“The public needs to understand that what the governor and the Department of Ecology are doing is greenwashing,” said Julia Olson, executive director and chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust. “First, Inslee’s proposed rule would lock in unacceptable levels of pollution and catastrophic harm to the young people of Washington. And now, after using the youth’s court victory as a campaign platform, Inslee’s administration is trying to get the court ruling overturned. We need courage and leadership right now, not gamesmanship and half-baked plans. Survival is at stake. Get on board governor, or get out of the way.”
“The governor and Ecology continue to deceive the public by claiming they are doing all they can to protect our children from climate change, but their actions in court prove otherwise,” said Rodgers. “It is important for the public to know that their leaders have many of the legal tools they need to address climate change, but instead work to avoid being held accountable for protecting the rights of young people.”
The young plaintiffs, who are all members of Plant for the Planet Academy, are asking their supporters, via video, to submit a public comment on the proposed rule to let the Inslee administration know that paltry one-percent emission reductions aren’t based on science or reason.
This case is one of several similar state, federal, and international cases, all supported by Our Children’s Trust, seeking the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate.
Andrea Rodgers, Western Environmental Law Center, 206-696-2851,
Julia Olson, Executive Director of Our Children’s Trust, 415-786-4825,
To set up interviews with youth plaintiffs contact Meg Ward, 503-341-8590,
Our Children’s Trust is a nonprofit organization, elevating the voice of youth, those with most to lose, to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate on behalf of present and future generations. We lead a global human rights and environmental justice campaign to implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans that will return atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to levels below 350 ppm. www.ourchildrenstrust.org/
The Western Environmental Law Center is a public interest nonprofit law firm. WELC combines legal skills with sound conservation biology and environmental science to address major environmental issues throughout the West. WELC does not charge clients and partners for services, but relies instead on charitable gifts from individuals, families, and foundations to accomplish its mission. www.westernlaw.org
Plant-for-the-Planet connects children around the world as Ambassadors for Climate Justice, planting trees, educating the public, influencing decision makers, and now going to court with expert legal guidance. Children inspire children at Academies, free one-day workshops where children ages 8-14 find their voice speaking out for their future and taking action to create a better world. http://www.plant-for-the-planet.org