Gov. Jay Inslee has made cap-and-trade legislation his top priority this session. His so-called environmental vision attempts to save the environment by making polluters pay. But our research exposes the people who helped him draft these ideas and, not surprisingly, they aren't environmentalists. They're people who are motivated by growing government.
How did Inslee devise his cap and trade scheme?
He assembled his 21-member Carbon Emissions Task Force "composed of 21 leaders from business, labor, health and public interest organizations" in the spring of 2014 to "provide recommendations to the governor on design and implementation of a market-based carbon pollution program."
The panel met seven times during 2014 and released its final recommendations right before Thanksgiving.
In order to evaluate the reliability of the data the task force produced, it's worth taking a look at those the governor handpicked to serve on it. One would expect there would be scientists, emissions experts and people with PhD's after their name. Secondarily, one might hope for economists—someone trained to evaluate the impact of his plan on your wallet.
Sadly, the panel was woefully under-represented by actual scientists and academics and heavily represented by activists and labor leaders—reinforcing the impression that the task force was less interested in evaluating the data and making fact-based recommendations than it was in growing the size of government and the unions that exert undue influence over it.
To highlight just a few of the task force members are their "qualifications":
Ada Healey is the well-connected, uber-liberal vice president of Vulcan Real Estate, a subsidiary of Paul Allen's investment company. Vulcan is the brainchild and project of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who these days owns the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers. Vulcan employees gave $6,113 in personal donations to the governor's campaign. As an organization, Vulcan gave $1800. One is left wondering why a high-powered real estate company and a sports team owner would be on a carbon emissions task force and what sort of science and expertise would be contributed.
Adam Glickman-Flora is on the board of directors for FUSE—a progressive nonprofit in Washington with tight ties to SEIU 775. Further, he sits on FUSE's governing board. He is also the secretary-treasurer for SEIU 775. SEIU 775 gave $3,600 to Inslee's campaign in 2012. SEIU 775 President David Rolf personally gave $1,040. SEIU 775 also spent $314,606 in independent expenditures supporting Gov. Inslee's campaign and opposing Inslee's opponent, Rob McKenna.
Glickman-Flora is also serves on the board of directors for the Progressive Majority of Washington—a leftist think tank. Bottom line—he is a liberal union boss interested in growing government, not purifying the environment.
Brad Tilden was elected chairman of Alaska Air Group and of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air (subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group) effective Jan. 1, 2014. He makes about $2 million a year. Alaska Airlines donated $1,800 to Inslee's campaign. What interest or expertise Brad Tilden would have in carbon emissions is a mystery, since he is a corporate executive.
Chris Youngmark is a staff member, assistant to the director, for United Steel Workers in Albuquerque, N.M. In that capacity, he seems to work closely with a group called "Democracy for a New Mexico," a clearinghouse for progressives in that state.
Tom Steyer, one of Inslee's supporters (Washington Conservation Voters, Steyer's PAC, spent $542,134.71 in independent expenditures supporting Inslee and opposing McKenna), and the USW have exchanged disagreeing opinions on climate change. USW District 12, for which Chris Youngmark works, contributed $2,800 to Inslee's campaign. One might wonder if Youngmark's membership on the task force is to bring opposing views to the table and keep the peace amongst supporters.
Putting political relationships aside –practically speaking, what is a USW staff member based out of New Mexico doing on a Washington state task force that will decide tax policy for Washington residents?
Dennis McLerran was appointed by President Obama to serve as the regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 10. He is tasked with enforcing EPA rules in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. Previously, he was executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Certainly it makes sense to have the EPA represented on the carbon emissions task force. However, in recent months the EPA has come under scrutiny for overreach of their authority in the areas of property rights, water rights and regulations. While the EPA has expertise in carbon emissions, it also has expertise in growing the EPA, which is cause for concern based upon the agency's history.
Dow Constantine is a free-spirited, wealthy progressive who's made some powerful political friends and has successfully run for King County executive in addition to serving as a state legislator and King County council member. David Freiboth, of the King County Labor Council, has praised Constantine's "longstanding relationship Constantine had with unions." Constantine donated $250 to the governor's campaign. He doesn't seem to have expertise in carbon emissions or economics. However, he is a fairly high-level elected official with connections.
Jeff Johnson is the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) president. At a recent constitutional convention for WSLC, he spoke on climate change. He claimed that "climate disruption is a clear and present danger to our prosperity." Johnson personally donated $1,500 to the governor's campaign.
Not surprisingly, the WSLC endorsed Inslee for governor. Johnson has not been shy in the media regarding WSLC's support and his own personal support of HB1314, calling it "the most important bill I will ever testify on." Of course it's important to Jeff Johnson. He's a union boss whose desire is to grow government, and HB1314 would do that in spades.
KC Golden is the senior policy analyst for Climate Solutions, another leftist think tank. Interesting, his work has connected him with Alaska Airlines, which closes the loop back to Mr. Tilden, listed above. KC's ties to Climate Solutions also connect him with Climate Solutions' board chairman, Marc Daudon. Daudon is the husband of Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce president Maud Daudon. Between Mr. and Mrs. Daudon, $3,050 was donated to Inslee's campaign. Additionally, Cascadia Consulting, for which Marc Daudon is a founder and senior principal, donated $500.
If Mr. Golden wants to promote a climate change policy, he knows who to call to make many contacts. KC Golden personally contributed $3,448 to the governor's campaign.
While Golden certainly has expertise in the environmental arena, he is also a committed leftist with plenty of political connections.
Rich Stolz—Rich Stolz is a political organizer focused on immigration advocacy. He is executive director of OneAmerica in Washington state. Since neither Stolz nor OneAmerica gave directly to the governor's campaign, it begs the question as to what purpose someone who specializes in left-leaning immigration advocacy with expertise in organizing offer a carbon emissions task force? Why would a carbon emissions task force needa campaign organizer?
Rodney L. Brown, Jr., is an environmental lawyer. His bio touts his authorship of Washington's Superfund law and his service on commissions that led to the Growth Management Act and Regulatory Reform Act. He serves on the Sightline Institute board of governors. Sightline is a public policy institute working towards a "sustainable" Northwest. Interestingly, Brown is also board chair of the Washington Conversation Voters Political Action Fund, which donated $542,134.71 in independent expenditures in support of Jay Inslee and oppose Rob McKenna during the governor's race.
Additionally, there is a tight relationship between Brown and Tom Steyer, who dumped $750,000 into the 2014 Washington state legislative races to help Inslee get HB1314 passed once the task force finished its recommendations. Brown's input regarding actual carbon emissions and their effect on the environment and the economy pales in comparison to the sheer amount of financial influence he has at his fingertips to pass cap-and-trade legislation.
Virinder Singh—Virinder Singh has a long history of project consulting in the wind and solar energy field. He has been instrumental in the effort that led to Oregon's policies on renewable energy and is a resident of Portland, Ore. He is also on the board of Climate Solutions.
While Singh seems well-qualified to weigh in on carbon emissions, Washington residents might wonder why an out-of-state consultant is making tax policy in Washington.
Looking at the majority of members of Inslee's task force doesn't lend confidence that the purpose of HB1314 is to clean the air and make the environment a better place. Considering the 11 people above represent well over $1.5 million in campaign funding since 2011, it leaves one wondering if the task force is more accurately described as an elite club of political buddies exchanging favors for the purpose of growing government.
In keeping with the spirit of transparency, it should also be noted, the Koch brothers spent $32.70 in independent expenditures supporting Rob McKenna's 2012 bid for the governor's office.
Following Governor Inslee's election, the Freedom Foundation published "Undue Influence" showing the influence union dollars had in electing the governor.
The Freedom Foundation recently revealed the illegal activity of the WSLC regarding their state funded labor center.