Tribal leaders call Inslee 'a snake' after he vetoes climate law's tribal consent measure
Tribal leaders are saying Washington Gov. Jay Inslee used and betrayed them after he vetoed a provision requiring tribal consent for some environmental projects.
“The only thing I will ever agree with Donald Trump about is that Jay Inslee is a snake,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians and vice president of the Quinault Indian Nation, in a statement issued Friday.
State legislators had approved a system for capping carbon emissions from the state’s largest polluters, as Inslee had sought for years.
Sales of pollution permits under the new law are expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually for projects to fight and adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
The governor vetoed a section requiring tribal consultation for those projects and tribal consent for any projects that would harm tribes’ cultural, archeological or sacred sites.
“Why would you sell us out? We helped you get this bill in!” tribal activist Paul Chiyokten Wagner with Protectors of the Salish Sea shouted at Inslee.
WATCH: Paul Chiyokten Wagner with Protectors of the Salish Sea shouts at Gov. Jay Inslee at a bill signing ceremony at Shoreline College on May 17.
“Our sacred sites matter!” he yelled from the audience at Shoreline Community College as security guards prevented him from getting close to the governor.
“We got your point,” Inslee replied. “Time to leave. Okay, we’re going to sign some bills now.”
The governor’s office says the bill’s tribal consent provision was so broad that it would have left any climate project vulnerable to lawsuits.
“What has not been mentioned is the number of provisions for tribes that were still in the bill the governor signed," Inslee’s office said in an email.
Among others, the new law requires at least 10% of the funding generated by the carbon-permit system be dedicated to programs supported by tribes, with priority to projects proposed or run by tribes.
Snoqualmie Indian Tribe chairman Robert de los Angeles said the veto would be a “permanent stain” on Inslee’s record.
“The fact that this betrayal is occurring regarding protections for something as important as burial grounds and sacred sites is offensive beyond description," de los Angeles said in a statement issued Friday.
At the bill signing, Inslee said he would invite tribal leaders to a summit to resolve the issue and make sure tribal consultation occurs in a way that respects the mutual sovereignty of the state and tribal nations.
Additional reporting by Austin Jenkins