By Karen Dandurant
Posted Mar 16, 2019 at 9:39 PMUpdated Mar 16, 2019 at 9:39 PM
DURHAM -- When Washington state’s Governor Jay Inslee visited Durham to talk about his presidential campaign, based on a climate control platform, he did his talk at the perfect place.
On Saturday, Inslee came to the Durham Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to talk about climate change with a panel of local environmental experts. Michael Fleming, Green Sanctuary Chair said the DUUF is the first solar powered house of worship in New Hampshire.
“As a church, we do not endorse any candidate, but this is a good space for the people who wanted to bring him here,” said Fleming. “This is perhaps a moral issue more than anything else. Will we keep on our current path or save the earth for our children and make it a better world. We can’t ignore climate change. We need to find a way so our country and world can solve climate change.”
“I feel daunted in this room, in the house of the ultimate fact checker,” joked Inslee, a Democrat. “I am running for president for one profound reason. We have to make climate change the number one priority. I have three grandchildren and we owe that generation a clean world to live in. We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change and the only generation who can change it. I see this as a matter of urgent peril and I see it as an economic solution of growing jobs in this field.”
Inslee said he was recently in Paradise, Calif., where there is not a soul left in a town burned to the ground by out-of-control forest fires.
“Climate science shows intense forest fires are coming, and the man in the White House says we should rake the leaves better,” Inslee said. “In my state last summer, there were some days we could not open our pools because of poor air quality. Houston had catastrophic floods, Miami beach had to build up walls or there would be fish in the streets. That is the peril side.”
On the economic side, Inslee said there is great opportunity in a giant transition to a decarbonized economy, in clean energy jobs. He said his state is taking the leadership on doing that now.
“We can ignite a clean energy revolution,” said Inslee. “We just need leadership and that’s why I have pledged not to take a dollar from the fossil fuel industry.”
The event was moderated by Dr. Chuck Hotchkiss, Dean of the College of Architecture, Design and Construction Management at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. The panel members were Mindi Mesmer, former state representative and environmental consultant, Catherine Corkery, NH Sierra Club, Michael Behrmann, Director of Business Development at Clean Energy NH, and Tom Morgan, Seabrook Town Planner.
Morgan asked Inslee how his approach to the climate issue differs from others presidential candidates.
“I am the only candidate who said this has to be the first priority in the country,” said Inslee. “To govern is to choose and that means to set priorities. To decarbonize is an enormous undertaking. In 1992, I ran for Congress on a platform of carbon. I helped start the climate alliance. In Washington we created a $6 billion wind industry, and we have a bill out to have zero emission vehicles.”
Messmer asked Inslee what his position is on health care, on providing it for everyone.
“I believe universal health access is a right,” said Inslee. “I hope we (Washington) will be the first state with a public option. We are integrating our physical and mental health care. And, I believe in increasing access to Medicare for all who want it.”
Behrmann told Inslee that his focus is on the economic side.
“For years I have been trying to showcase how much opportunity there is in this,” said Behrmann. “What measures have you seen that work well. How are you engaging businesses who are trying and giving incentives for those not quite there.”
“The best thing I can do on this regard is run for president to have a chance to display the good going on to America,” said Inslee. “A lot of people are not aware that we are economically challenged by not creating biofuels. In retrofitting houses, everyone has a role, including carpenter, and machinist. Energy jobs can go twice as well in our economy. The most effective things I have found are individual stories. Every social revolution starts in a small room like this one.”
Corkery talked about the regional greenhouse gas initiative, where power plants are required to pay to pollute. She asked about ways to get bipartisan cooperation on more issues.
“We need to keep our hearts and minds open to other party members who are interested in getting involved,” said Inslee. “We can work across the aisle. We have three Republican governors in the climate alliance. But as long as Mitch McConnell has the filibuster at his disposal, they will not. They are afraid to cross Trump so we need to elect more Democrats and eliminate the filibuster. There will be other elections and I hope they come soon.”