Introducing Congressman Jay Inslee with an Environmental Victory

Climate Progress is happy to introduce Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) as the latest guest blogger. Jay has long been a leader on energy and climate issues (his full bio is here). In March, he was appointed to the 15-member Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. He has a forthcoming book on climate solutions with Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Bracken Hendricks — Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy. I’ve known Jay since we appeared on a panel together in January 2007. He is uniquely qualified to provide an insider’s view on climate issues. Welcome, Jay!

We lost a battle but won a war against the Bush Administration’s refusal to address global warming on Tuesday. The battle means little. The war could mean a lot.

As a congressman from Seattle, I joined Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and other plaintiffs in supporting a lawsuit to force the Administration to issue the statutorily required national scientific assessment of global warming. Tuesday, Federal District court Judge Sandra Brown Armstrong ordered the Administration to comply with its legal duty to provide the American people a full and fair assessment of the science underpinning this national threat, as the law requires.

For an administration bound and determined to ignore the clear science of global warming, this is a traumatic event. For America, it is a long overdue win for the environment — and our grandchildren. In its ruling, the court held that Senator Kerry and I would not become parties to the case because we have access to a congressional remedy unlike the other plaintiffs. Since we obtained the result we desired, we can consider it a total victory nonetheless.

This does not mean that we are out of the woods yet, of course. The President’s outright refusal to accept a cap and trade system for carbon dioxide is a major hurdle to an effective global warming strategy. But this ruling means President Bush will not be able to argue that there are no costs to America for his policy of rank indifference to this major threat. In short, he may still be able to run, but he cannot hide.

It is about time the Administration is required to follow science rather than their political allies. This legal ruling means that we are one step forward in being able to require them to do just that.