Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Resource Renewal Institute
February 15, 2002
Many thanks for that kind introduction.
I’m delighted to be here and I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the state of Washington. This recognition by the Resource Renewal Institute acknowledges the progress we have already made towards sustainable development and reminds us that it must be a defining theme of our political and business culture.
Last fall, at the Washington Conservation Voters annual breakfast, I emphasized the central role of sustainability in Washington’s future. I believe this is the thread that we must use to weave together our actions on economic development, environmental protection and strong communities. As our economic problems grow more complex and our population continues to increase, it becomes clear that lawmakers and citizens alike must be even more enterprising in applying this approach.
To maintain a high quality of life -- to maintain the resources and advantages we have today so that future generations can enjoy them -- is the central challenge we face as Washingtonians entering the new millennium. Maintaining this type of lasting prosperity and recognizing the social, economic and environmental underpinnings of long-term success is the cornerstone of sustainable development.
So today, honored by the recognition we have already achieved, I pledge our state’s commitment to sustainability. I’d also like to review how and why it is central to maintaining our state’s competitive edge, and my administration’s efforts to ensure that sustainability works for Washington. We need to translate our words into practice and translate our commitment into substantive and lasting outcomes.
We know that moving towards sustainability will take effort. It does mean doing business in different ways. And all sectors will need to understand the benefits of making those changes. In fact, as everyone here knows, achieving sustainability will demand old-fashioned hard work, rolling up our sleeves and making certain we approach each policy and business challenge in a fashion that is balanced and consistent with our environmental values.
Washington Competitiveness Council
Last June, my office co-convened a sustainability summit in Seattle, and I want to thank the Partnership for a Sustainable Washington for their guidance and leadership assisting us with that. Among other things, the summit’s final report emphasized that progress will depend on all sectors -- business, government and non-profit organizations -- taking active roles. This group also volunteered to create an informal advisory committee to work with me to implement their recommendations.
Since that time, my Competitiveness Council completed its report and made a number of recommendations to improve our state’s business climate. One fact we know for certain is that our quality of life is instrumental in attracting new businesses to Washington and keeping current businesses here as they expand. Recreational opportunities, clean air and water, and accessible public lands can be just as alluring as tax breaks for business. We cannot and we will not use language such as “streamlining” as a code word for “deregulation” or a hands-off approach to environmental oversight!
Already Practicing Sustainability
We have, in Washington state, practiced various forms of sustainability and we must build on these successes.
The examples are varied: Our Habitat Conservation Plans under the Endangered Species Act provide long-term certainty for economic and environmental interests; our Forest and Fish Agreement aims to strike a balance for long-range salmon recovery; our water initiative balances the needs of people and fish and moves them forward, together and not at the expense of each other. And we are also doing this at the local level with all of our local watershed councils.
Another challenge for those of us in government, particularly during an energy crunch, is to advance and embrace conservation and renewable energy sources.
Our state government is vigorously committed to supporting the growth of the clean energy industry. And we are committed to supporting the energy technology businesses that we will need for clean energy to grow. This is another example of where protecting the environment is good business.
There are other useful examples: Our Department of General Administration recently sought bids on contracts to provide carpets and other floor coverings to state agencies and interested local governments. The invitation specified that all carpet removed when laying new product must be reclaimed rather than burned or put into landfills. We also specified that new carpet must incorporate reclaimed carpet. These kinds of closed systems will be increasingly necessary in a sustainable Washington.
So must continue to brainstorm. We must continue to innovate. Because these brainstorms and these innovations will not only promote sustainability but will also save our state millions of dollars a year.
So let’s review what actions we must take now to follow-through on our pledge to make sustainability more than an abstract concept in the future.
First, I want to take up the sustainability summit attendees on their offer to create a working group to pursue sustainable strategies for Washington. I anticipate this will include businesses, non-profit groups, labor organizations, local governments, Tribes and academic institutions. Concurrently, I am creating an interagency group to work with them, focusing on changes that we can make in state government.
Second, I will charge this interagency group, working in consultation with the non-state group, to develop an Executive Order on Sustainable Government that I can sign in a few months.
Living and governing for the future demands that we look at the complex problems of water, energy, growth management, community and economic development from a system-wide approach -- examining how they are connected and integrated. That’s the heart of “sustainability.”
Because all of these topics -- from clean energy to preserving wild salmon -- are inter-linked. As Norman Maclean wrote in A River Runs Through It
, “eventually all things merge into one.”
A healthy economy in Washington will reflect a recognition of the value of a healthy environment. As we move towards a more sustainable state, we will strengthen the well being of residents in communities large and small, urban and rural. This Sustainable Washington of the 21st Century will flow not just from the work of government, but from the concerned citizens, the businesses and the activists gathered here. It will flow upstream from our communities as we stake our ground, raise our families and reaffirm the Pacific Northwest as our home.
When people throughout the world imagine the Pacific Northwest, they envision our mountains, our forests and our waters.
We won’t default on that legacy of our natural heritage -- a legacy we must sustain.
- Resource Renewal Institute
- Washington Competitiveness Council
- Department of General Administration
- Washington Conservation Voters