I heard Washington Governor and Presidential candidate Jay Inslee speak intelligently Friday morning on NPR about his broad and sensible environmental vision. Intelligent speech alone distinguishes Inslee from the White House occupant he seeks to replace. So does his understanding of the science, technology, economics, and facts of transitioning from fossil fuels to sustainable energy:
We’re going to have a rational transition, and the pace is driven by science. Now we’ve got a president who says that wind turbines cause cancer. He’s wrong. They cause jobs. And I’ve had a vision for this that now is coming to pass, and we know that because clean energy jobs today are growing twice as fast as the U.S. economy. And these are not jobs for physicists necessarily. They’re jobs for carpenters and laborers and machinists [Gov. Jay Inslee, interviewed by Rachel Martin, “Gov. Jay Inslee Says Washington State Is a ‘Template for Success’ for the U.S.,” NPR: Morning Edition, 2019.05.31].
Governor Inslee acknowledges that transitioning from fossil fuels does not create jobs mining coal, just like working for peace does not create jobs making bombs. But mining coal does cause cancer, and we can retrain coal miners for jobs that will be healthier for them and the economy:
I’ll give you a real-world example. And so in Centralia, Wash., we have the last coal-fired plant. We have reached a community agreement to close it in the next few years. In doing so, we’ve created a $55 million fund that will help with the families and retraining education. It will also help build jobs because training is not enough. You have to have a job [Inslee, 2019.05.31].
Inslee says we can pay for this training and transition by phasing out favors for the doomed fossil-industry and Trump’s rich friends:
…we have something that I think we need to do in any event, which is to remove the giant subsidies from the oil and gas companies. We need to repeal the majority of the Trump tax cuts, which went to the upper, you know, income brackets – rather than working people – and did not produce jobs. So simply having some reform like that is what makes sense [Inslee, 2019.05.31].
Because I know our nuclear-keen commenters will take the comment section in the direction of nuclear energy, Governor Inslee says he is keeping “all low- and zero-carbon technologies on the table.” Washington State gets more power from nuclear plants than from nonhydroelectric renewables, coal, or natural gas. The zero-carbon-by-2030 bill that Inslee signed this spring (and which the Sierra Club applauds) includes nuclear power in its clean-technology roadmap. Working in nuclear plants can cause cancer, but perhaps not as much as we might think… and nuclear power appears to kill fewer people than other energy sources.