MEDIA STATEMENT: Washington Policy Center Statement on Governor Inslee’s Press Conference and U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Over the past decade, Washington state has consistently missed its CO2 targets. Politically driven climate policy in Washington state, King County, Seattle, and elsewhere has failed to reduce the risk from climate change.
Washington’s climate policies have consistently put politics ahead of the environment and pitted sustainable solutions against prosperity. That is simply a losing strategy, for people and the environment.
Today’s ruling is more evidence that environmental policy that relies on politicians and bureaucracies is unsustainable. Changes in public opinion, elections, and judicial rulings make environmental policy erratic, costly, and ineffective.
Empowering individuals with technology and incentives is more sustainable and effective. Across Washington, the United States, and the globe, there are thousands of examples of people innovating ways to do more with less – reducing costs, energy use, and CO2 emissions. That spirit of dynamic innovation is more effective and durable because it isn’t subject to shifting political winds.
Even Justice Kagan noted in her dissent that “market forces alone” reduced CO2 emissions in the power industry over the past decade.
Additionally, the ruling should not be a surprise. In 2020, the Washington State Supreme Court made a similar ruling, finding that the Washington State Department of Ecology could not impose a statewide cap-and-trade system without legislative approval.
It is ironic that Governor Inslee and two legislators will highlight the CO2 legislation they adopted while decrying court decisions that say CO2 regulation requires legislative approval.
The clear lesson from today’s ruling, and the 2020 ruling from the state Supreme Court should be that effective climate legislation should not be imposed from bureaucracies but should include legislators or, ideally, the people themselves.