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Inslee talks climate change during Spokane visit

Inslee talks climate change during Spokane visit
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
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Washington Governor Jay Inslee holds a sweatshirt gifted him by students from the Environmental Club at Spokane Falls Community College.

Washington's governor tours prairie restoration project at EWU, meets with Environmental Club students at SFCC.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee talked about one of his favorite subjects when he visited Spokane County on Thursday: climate change.

The governor began his tour at Eastern Washington University, where he learned about a project to restore a prairie ecosystem.

Then he spent an hour with students in the Environmental Club at Spokane Falls Community College. Inslee asked the students about the club and how they recruit members. He asked about their experience with science education, where they learned about climate issues and whether and how they engage their peers in climate discussions. Then he told them about Washington’s latest environmental initiatives, including provisions within the new state’s new $16 billion transportation budget that will allow the state to further develop its mass transit options. Inslee said Spokane County has made important progress in reducing its carbon footprint. That includes Spokane Transit recently buying nearly a dozen electric buses for its fleet.

The students, in turn, told the governor about their on-campus community garden and staff members told him about the district’s emphasis on reducing its energy costs.

“We collaborate pretty heavily with the (CCS) Sustainability Center to try to involve students as much as we can, whether it’s with a potential solar array that we’re thinking about or, right now, we’re looking at funding an SFCC smart water irrigation system. We think our projected savings would be 18 million gallons a year,” said Andrew Lemberg, the resource conservation manager for Spokane’s two community colleges. Lemberg said the district’s energy efficiency programs have allowed the colleges’ electricity usage by 30% over the last five years.

Inslee urged students to be more critical of the people who enact the government’s environmental policies.

“It’s fair for you to demand elected leaders impose policies to give you a healthy planet and not have to breathe forest fire smoke and not have to see the disappearance of the salmon and not to see the disappearance of the snow that you ski on and enjoy," he said. "To me that’s a rightful claim, a moral claim that your generation has the right to make.”