On "Clean Energy," Governor is Close Enough for Government Work

Nov 28, 2017

Last week, Governor Inslee was quoted in the New York Times, touting his success at promoting green jobs in Washington state. He told The Times, “It’s true in clean energy in my state, where those jobs are growing 17 times faster than the overall economy right now.” The Governor concluded by saying, “policy matters.”

What is the source for that claim? The Governor’s office cited this study, “Renewable Energy and Jobs” from the International Renewable Energy Agency using data from the Solar Foundation. The study says, employment in the solar industry – not “clean energy” overall – in the U.S., “increased by 24% to reach 240,000 people” between 2015 and 2017.

Despite saying, “in my state,” the data provided by the Governor’s office aren’t from Washington state. When we asked the Governor’s office if any state data were available, the answer was, “not that I am aware of.”

Additionally, the percentage increase in solar jobs is misleading, since the total solar production is extremely small. According to the Energy Information Administration, Washington state generated more than 112.7 million megawatt hours (MWh) in 2015. Of that total, 89 megawatt hours were from solar, or 0.07%.

Rather than focus on the 99.93 percent of electricity in Washington state, the Governor focuses on what is virtually the smallest source of electricity.

Put simply, the Governor’s statistic, a) isn’t from Washington state, and b) isn’t “clean energy,” but just solar, which is c) a tiny fraction of electricity generated in our state.

The governor wants to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on his clean energy agenda, believing that “policy matters.” Accuracy matters as well, and policies based on false interpretations of misleading data are likely to waste huge sums of money for no environmental benefit. It is one reason Washington state has consistently failed to live up to its environmental promises.

Sign up for the WPC Newsletter