Inslee unveils 100% clean energy plan

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will unveil a sweeping plan aimed at combating climate change on Friday that, if enacted, would mean a wholesale change to the way the United States builds buildings, manufactures cars and supplies the power grid and includes a proposal to cut US coal production by 2030.

The plan, Inslee’s first major policy rollout of his presidential campaign, would implement 100% clean energy standards in three key sectors of the American economy — electricity, vehicles and new buildings — and represents the major bet Inslee is placing on the importance of climate change to Democratic primary voters as he vies for a chance to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

” We as Americans face a choice. Do we rise to the challenge of defeating climate change? Or do we shrink from this existential crisis and let our kids and grandkids suffer, ” Inslee said in a statement to CNN. ” In this campaign, I will put forward plans that will defeat climate change, create millions of jobs, and build a just transition to an economy run on clean energy. ”

He added: ” This plan is ambitious in its scope, but practical in its aims, because it’s based off our successes in Washington state this year. We can and must build an economy free from fossil fuels, and that is what I’m proposing today. ”

Inslee’s newly released proposal would put a 10-year plan into place that would mandate the following by 2030: ” Reach 100% zero emissions in new light- and medium-duty vehicles and all buses, achieve 100% zero-carbon pollution from all new commercial and residential buildings; and set a national 100% Clean Electricity Standard, requiring 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, putting America on a path to having all clean, renewable and zero- emission energy in electricity generation by 2035. ”

Inslee has staked his entire 2020 campaign on climate change and launched his bid pledging to make the issue — which he argues impacts ” every issue ” facing the country — his focus as president.

It could be a good bet: A recent CNN poll found that 82% of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents find climate change to be a ” very important ” issue, ranking it at the top of the list ahead of universal health care, tighter gun laws and impeaching Trump.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have looked to combat climate change by pushing the Green New Deal, a sweeping legislative proposal that would make wholesale changes in the United States.

The Green New Deal has become a political cudgel for Republicans, who regularly use it to hammer Democrats. Trump, as President, has left the Paris climate accord and has said he does not believe government reports that cast grave warnings about the impact of climate change.

Inslee’s campaign has also shown a willingness, even this early in the race, to go after other candidates on climate change.

When former Rep. Beto O’Rourke released his plan to combat climate change in late April, Inslee’s campaign manager slammed the Texas Democrat for years of voting with oil companies as a representative from the oil-rich state.

” Beto O’Rourke will need to answer why he did not lead on climate change in Congress, ” said Aisling Kerins , Inslee’s campaign manager.

Inslee will officially announce that plan during a policy speech in Los Angeles on Friday where he will be joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti , a Democrat who flirted with a 2020 run. The announcement will also include a tour of Los Angeles’ new electric bus facility and use the new project as an example of ways cities can fight climate change.

Inslee has traveled the country pushing his climate change message since he launched his campaign in March. In addition to California, Inslee has visited the four early nominating states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — as well as Texas, New York and Oregon.

” It’s encouraging to see a presidential candidate proposing the kind of aggressive, science-based initiative we need to combat climate change, ” said Ed Fallon, the director of Bold Iowa, an activism group in the first in the nation caucus state. ” This sets the bar for what Iowa caucus goers are looking for from all the candidates. ”

The proposal Inslee released Friday builds off what he was recently able to achieve in Washington state where, in April, the legislature passed a 100% clean energy plan.

” We cannot tackle the existential threat of climate change by merely addressing climate pollution from one sector of our economy, ” reads the Inslee plan. ” We must reduce it everywhere. ”

The plan also seeks to answer a key question regarding the fight against climate change: What to do with people who currently work in industries that have a significant impact on the climate, like oil or coal production since the plan would end US coal production by 2030 to ” eliminate dangerous pollution and repower our economy with job-creating clean energy. ”

Inslee’s plan would guarantee ” support for workers and community transition … to ensure that the creation of clean energy projects results in many good, family-wage jobs, and that all communities benefit in the transition to a carbon-free power future. ”