As noted by Brian Rosenthal, Jay Inslee had only one specific policy proposal in his inauguration address ( the reproductive parity act), which itself is no sin, since inauguration are about setting tones, not agendas.
Still, it leaves pundits and the public reading tea leaves on what, exactly, that tone was on a huge swath of issues, including coal trains.
Inslee didn't use the word coal and train together in the entire speech, but he talked around them so much you could hear them whistles blowing round the bend.
Indeed, some of his strongest words came when addressing climate change, daring to recast the greatest inauguration speech of all time, Lincoln's second, by replacing "slavery" with "climate change."
Said Inslee: "If we shall suppose that climate change is one of those offense which, in the providence of god, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove by our efforts, and he gives to all the world's peoples this terrible climactic scourge as the woe due to those by whom this offense came, should we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living god ascribe to him?"
Given that heavy indictment of carbon emissions, it's hard to think that Inslee won't do everything in his power to block Washington's portion of the 175 million tons of coal that could be shipped through Washington and Oregon annually by 2022 if a series of export ports are approved.
When 175 million tons of coal is burned, each carbon atom would bond with two oxygen atoms to create 500 million tons of CO2.
Yet when asked directly last week what, if any, actions he would take on the proposed coal terminals, Inslee was notably cautious.
As Jim Camden at The Spokesman-Review took it down:
On a question about new coal terminals on the West Coast, Inslee said he wanted to look beyond the local impacts in the port communities to a "full, fair evaluation of the effect of coal trains on the state of Washington."
That would include environmental effects as well as the possible loss of jobs in small towns "bisected" by increased train traffic, he said.
No talk of God Almighty there.
Don't get me wrong. coal opponents like the "tone" that's being set by Inslee on the issue.
Still, I was surprised by how much room he gave himself with his answer last week, only to say the next week, in not so many words, that allowing the coal to be burned in China would be a moral failing akin to allowing slavery to continue.