Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks before signing a measure that puts the state on track to create the first 'public option' health insurance in the US, Monday, May 13, 2019, in Olympia, Wash.
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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks before signing a measure that puts the state on track to create the first 'public option' health insurance in the US, Monday, May 13, 2019, in Olympia, Wash.
Credit: AP Photo/Rachel La Corte

Indigenous activists demand Inslee declare a 'climate emergency'

There's pressure on Washington Governor Jay Inslee to declare a "climate emergency" from indigenous climate activists, who set up tepees and banners on Washington's capitol steps Tuesday


Indigenous climate activists led by Protectors of the Salish Sea set up tepees at Washington state's capitol Tuesday, September 24th 2019.
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Indigenous climate activists led by Protectors of the Salish Sea set up tepees at Washington state's capitol Tuesday, September 24th 2019.
Credit: Anna Humphreys

"We will not leave until Governor Jay Inslee declares climate emergency because that is the world that we are living in," said Paul Cheyokten Wagner, founder of the Protectors of the Salish Sea.

He is leading the activists, with support at the capitol from 350 Seattle. They set up tepees and other structures early Tuesday morning, but police had removed most of them by early Wednesday morning.

Police in riot gear moved on the protest the morning of September 25th, 2019 to clear out structures at the capitol steps. Indigenous climate activists are demanding Governor Jay Inslee declare a climate emergency.
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Police in riot gear moved on the protest the morning of September 25th, 2019 to clear out structures at the capitol steps. Indigenous climate activists are demanding Governor Jay Inslee declare a climate emergency.
Credit: Anna Humphreys

Their demands will continue until Inslee takes action, says Wagner. They're also demanding the governor hold a legislative session focused solely on climate policy in 2020 and that he cut the state's ties to fossil fuels.

On that demand, Wagner said they want "Jay Inslee to use executive order and terminate all current fossil fuels expansion in the state of Washington for the love of our children, for the love of his children, [because] we have this responsibility and so does he."

That would mean stopping Puget Sound Energy's planned expansion of a pipeline in Snohomish County, the proposed LNG expansion in Tacoma and a methanol refinery in Kalama, among other projects.

Wagner said they were invited inside to speak with Inslee's staff Tuesday, but the governor is in New York for the UN Climate Summit.

A short statement from Inslee's office says they welcome the conversations happening with the people who have assembled. The have not commented on whether Inslee is willing to declare an emergency or take executive action to halt oil and gas expansion.

Protectors of the Salish Sea and allies walked 40 miles over four days to protest the fossil fuel expansions occurring in Washington state, arriving at Washington's capitol building in time to set up tepees Tuesday morning.