Your Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Environment

Native leader calls him a 'snake,' but Inslee defends veto of tribal consent in cap-and-trade law

Gov. Jay Inslee signs three key environmental bills, including the Climate Commitment Act, May 17 at Shoreline Community College.
Office of the Governor
Gov. Jay Inslee signs three key environmental bills, including the Climate Commitment Act, May 17 at Shoreline Community College.

Anger lingers among tribal leaders in Washington after a surprise veto from Gov. Jay Inslee last month. As he signed the cap and trade Climate Commitment Act, the governor struck down new powers for tribes.

He defended that move during a news conference Thursday.

After the veto, Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians and vice president of the Quinault Indian Nation, issued a scathing statement. She called Inslee "a snake" and described the veto as a shameless betrayal.

Fawn Sharp at a debate Wednesday night before being elected president of the National Congress of American Indians.
Credit Still image from Indian Country Today
Fawn Sharp at a debate before being elected president of the National Congress of American Indians in October 2019.

The vetoed section would have required tribal consent - not just consultation - for projects funded by new revenue from cap and trade. Inslee says that section went beyond what he negotiated, making his veto "entirely necessary."

Unfortunately, because the way that language was drafted, it would have given every single tribe in the state of Washington the ability to cancel or terminate every single project in the state of Washington, no matter where it was, no matter what reason that would have to be given, because there was no due process in the system,” he said.

Inslee says he wasn't part of the negotiations that added language increasing authority the tribes might have. The language in the bill changed after it went from the Senate to the House. Tribal leaders said they needed more teeth to protect cultural resources and sacred sites, not just "check the box" consultations.

Since the veto, the governor says he has had discussions with at least a dozen tribal chairs about developing specific protocols for consultations moving forward. His office shared a letter he sent to all of Washington's tribal chairs on May 25, inviting them to continue working together on improvements to the consultation framework. And he says he’s confident they will continue to have a good working relationship.

In a slight noted by several observers on Twitter, Inslee added that Fawn Sharp is “not a tribal chair” and that he is working with “real tribal chairs.” Sharp became vice president of the Quinault tribe in March, after five terms as that nation’s president. She also leads all of Indian Country as president of the NCAI.

Inslee’s office says he is working toward holding a summit meeting with tribal leaders this summer.

Related Content