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Ask the Governor

Inslee Says Not Enough Info From Methanol Plant Backers

April 22, 2016

Enrique Cerna: China wants to make its biggest investment in the U.S. right here in Washington State, by building a huge methanol plant. They want to use enormous amounts of water and clean energy, hydro power, to make methanol to ship to China for manufacturing plastics. There’s a lot of opposition to this, but there is also this other side to it. The other side of it is the potential for jobs. Where do you stand on this project?

Governor Jay Inslee: Well I think we need to do what we do in the state of Washington, which is, we’re always alert for opportunities of good jobs for our people, to find out if we can build good incomes for families. But we also have to make sure before we make it a large infrastructure that it is consistent with our environmental rules. We have very high standards to make sure our waters are clean, our air is clean, and we don’t have risk to our people and those standards have to be followed. Before a large project gets built, it would have to be shown that it complies with all of those health and safety standards and that has not happened yet.

I have been actually a little disappointed that the company really has not been as forthcoming as they need to be to answer some of the community concerns about the amount of water that would be used and what type of discharges there might be. They’re going to have to be forthcoming with those answers before this plant would ever be built. But I have not shut the door on people who want to at least investigate to see if that could be something the community could accept.

Enrique Cerna and Governor Jay Inslee in the drawing room of the Executive Residence, April 5, 2016

Enrique Cerna: There are people who work in the state auditor’s office that are fearing for their jobs because there could be layoffs from legislature action that can possibly take money from their budget. I don’t know if you’ve acted on this yet.  Has a decision been made?

Governor Jay Inslee: We have not, actually. I’m starting to go through the budget now carefully in the next few days so we’re going to look at that and I’m aware of this concern. I’ll take a look at that with great gravity.

Enrique Cerna: And that is also an issue that comes back to auditing the various agencies of the state. I know it is something that has been built up by Brian Sonntag when he was the state auditor there. What concerns do you have?

Governor Jay Inslee: Well, the obvious concern with the sitting auditor is still under trial with felony charges that are very serious charges. I have asked him to resign. I think it’s the right thing for him to do. He has not done that. I think he has made a poor decision in that regard.  Presumably, there will be a decision in his trial.  Hopefully, that will resolve things. He made a bad decision, in my book, putting all of the state in a bad position where we didn’t really have a functioning auditor while this prosecution was going on.

We have a very active program of bringing lean management to improve the efficiency of state government throughout state government and we are bringing the same management tools that have been used at Virginia Mason Hospital and various manufacturers to bring efficiency to state government, and we’re having some success on this. So we’re not waiting on the auditor. We want to bring efficiency, resourcefulness, creativity and innovation to state government and we’re doing this through the Results Washington program.

Andrew (Twitter): “How closely are you working with counterparts in Oregon, British Columbia on high-speed rail implementation?”

Governor Jay Inslee: Well, we’re a ways away from that and we have tried to work closely with Oregon to get the I-5 bridge rebuilt that would accommodate light rail in Clark County and Portland. We had a tremendous plan to do that. That would be even substantially funded by the federal government. But one of the parties here, the Republican Party, squashed that because they don’t like light rail. For some reason, the Republican Party in this state, for reasons I cannot understand, didn’t like light rail that would allow people in Vancouver to take light rail from Portland and back.

We opened the light rail station at the University of Washington here a couple weeks ago. A beautiful station! We’ve got thousands and thousands of people on the first day using that light rail stop and now, we have an opportunity to build it from Everett to Tacoma. I’m excited about our transportation package that we passed.

MORE: Puget Sound ecology, rising housing costs


Enrique Cerna

The son of Mexican immigrants, Enrique Cerna was born and raised in the Yakima Valley.  Enrique joined KCTS 9 in January, 1995. He has anchored current affairs programs, moderated statewide political debates, produced and reported stories for national PBS programs in addition to local documentaries on social and juvenile justice, the environment and Latinos in Washington State.

Enrique has earned nine Northwest Emmy Awards and numerous other honors. In June, 2013, he was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter’s Silver Circle for his work as a television professional.

More stories by Enrique Cerna

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is a 25-year veteran of KCTS, producing a wide range of cultural and public affairs series, documentaries and arts programming.  His credits include PIE, Something in the Water  (PBS feature on Seattle’s indie music scene), the gala opening of Benaroya Hall, and documentaries on Asahel and Edward Curtis, Dan Sullivan and Doris Chase.  Seattle-born, Hegg is a graduate of Whitworth University and is also an accomplished violinist and avid cyclist.

More stories by Stephen Hegg