Governor Inslee made a strong statement about Arctic drilling during his Reddit AMA, but didnt address the climate side of the argument.
Governor Inslee made a strong statement about Arctic drilling during his Reddit AMA, but didn't address the climate side of the argument. Governor's Office/Flickr

Governor Inslee came out with a pretty strong statement on Arctic drilling in his Reddit AMA this afternoon. Reddit user marwoodwilliams asked, "Seattle resident here. What are your thoughts on Artic Drilling and the Port of Seattle/Shell Oil Controversey [sic]?"

Inslee said he's long opposed Arctic drilling:

I have huge concerns about drilling in the arctic [sic]. I don’t believe we have sufficient plans both to prevent spills and respond to them in those incredibly challenging conditions. That’s one of the reasons I’ve long opposed opening these areas to drilling.

And he added that he asked the state to look into it, but was told nothing could be done at that level:

Recently, I had my Dept. of Ecology review whether or not the state had jurisdiction over the permitting of this project. Since the operations were the same as pre-existing operations, I was told the state doesn’t have the ability legally to interfere with this lease. I know people are extremely concerned with the lack of public process in the leasing decision. And I think that frustration and concern is legitimate.

The last bit about preexisting operations is a little weird, though. Environmental groups are suing, in part, over the port's decision to exempt itself from environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The port's argument is that it had every right to do so—it does have that power under SEPA—but only if the use of the terminal wouldn't change. Environmental groups, on the other hand, say that hosting an Arctic drilling fleet would be different from unloading and loading cargo, and that the port knew this when it made its decision to sign the lease. The judge on the case has not yet decided whether to let the environmental groups' argument progress; we're likely to hear about that on Friday.

Does that mean that the DOE agrees with the port on the case? (We've reached out and will update when we hear back.)

But here's where the Arctic drilling bit really would have gotten interesting: if Governor Inslee had answered a follow-up to marwoodwilliams' question, one that asked if the governor would write to the federal government and urge them to block Arctic drilling. Inslee didn't answer the follow-up.

Nor did he acknowledge the climate side of the anti-Arctic-drilling-fleet argument—that according to recent research published in Nature, the Arctic is one of the places in which all oil and gas should be left in the ground. True, it would have been a much more controversial response to say that some oil reserves just shouldn't be drilled because of climate change, but according to the Washington Post's Chris Mooney, that's the argument political leaders now have to reckon with.

The governor also answered questions about vaping (probably the most popular AMA thread), funding education with a carbon tax and a small tax on capital gains, coal terminals, oil trains, what it feels like to be lobbied, his favorite non-franchise restaurant, and Sound Transit's taxing authority for light rail in Seattle.

Read 'em all here.