The Chronicle: "Bryant’s Punch on Inslee Lands Important Point"

On Friday, The Chronicle highlighted Bill Bryant's statements on the Alcoa curtailment in its opinion section -- click here for the original.

This week brought unwelcome news that Alcoa, which specializes in aluminum smelting operations, has halted operations across the state as the price of aluminum has dropped worldwide.

Four-hundred jobs will be lost in the Wenatchee area alone, with more at another site in Western Washington.

It might seem like a story of a lagging market and a responsive business, but there is more to it than that.

Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant used the company’s dilemma as a hammer with which to nail Gov. Jay Inslee during an interview with The Chronicle Thursday.

He correctly noted that the business is one of dozens that would be impacted by Inslee’s continued attempts to approach climate change through punishment for businesses that produce carbon.

“Imagine if instead of spending the last three years aggressively targeting community bedrock employers like Alcoa, Gov. Inslee had pulled people together, found ways to build up those companies and encouraged new job generating investment,” Bryant, a native of Morton, said in a statement.

“If he had, hundreds of families might not be wondering what they are going to do now.”

While Alcoa has no presence in Lewis County, the threat of burdensome regulation by the state certainly is relevant here.

Like Alcoa, PacificCorp Energy in Chehalis and Cardinal Glass in Winlock are among the 35 businesses in the state producing more than 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide on a regular basis.

They also provide well-paying, meaningful jobs that provide a living wage for residents who sorely need it.

Ecology is drawing up new rules for businesses that cross the 100,000 metric ton threshold by order of Inslee after the governor was completely unable to gather support for his crusade in the Legislature, even among the ranks of his fellow Democrats in the state House.

“If something happens and there’s a cost to us, based on this program, we’re going to have to pass it down to our customers and eventually it’ll get passed down to the public,” Cardinal Glass Plant Manager Steve Smith told The Chronicle earlier this year.

Bryant is correct when he notes the complete failure of Inslee when it comes to allowing businesses to thrive and succeed.

Likewise, he’s right to ding Inslee for his inability to lead in Olympia. Look no further than the last Legislature, which rolled into unprecedented overtime sessions largely due to his lack of leadership in bringing lawmakers to the negotiating table.

“That would have never happened under Gov. Chris Gregoire,” Bryant said.

Bryant has proven his ability to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. He’s been elected as Port of Seattle commissioner with broad-based support due to his history of positive economic action and distaste for government intrusion.

We’re a year away from the gubernatorial election of 2016. There’s still a lot to learn about Bryant’s ideas and candidacy.

Still, his points against Inslee and his lackluster track record are deserving of contemplation.

Mike Foster