I WAS HERE FIRST
Jay Inslee on Beto O’Rourke’s Climate Plan: ‘Better Late Than Never’
Washington governor says his plan is the only serious climate-change policy proposed by a Democratic presidential candidate.
Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington, who is prioritizing climate change in his presidential campaign, is launching an expansive and detailed “100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan” as his first major policy rollout.
The 2020 candidate, who has called for a climate-change-exclusive debate with all his competitors, says no one else in the field holds a candle to his plans to address the crisis. That includes former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), who unveiled a proposal of his own earlier in the week.
“Well, look I welcome anyone who will follow my leadership,” Inslee said, in an interview Thursday night. “I’ve been leading on this for over a decade and a half. I think it’s great that people follow my leadership late, but better late than never. That’s a good thing but I think people, as time goes on, will appropriately find a different level of commitment over the decades.”
According to a draft of Inslee’s 10-year action plan, the U.S. would reach 100 percent zero emissions in new light- and medium-duty vehicles and all buses and 100 percent zero carbon pollution from all new commercial and residential buildings. It would also set a national 100 percent clean electricity standard requiring all carbon-neutral power by 2030 and “putting America on a path to having all clean, renewable and zero- emission energy in electricity generation by 2035.”
The plan, which will be formally announced at a press conference in Los Angeles with the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, is designed to meet and exceed carbon-reduction targets laid out in a 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and is built off a clean-electricity plan that passed in Washington state.
In order to implement 100 percent clean electricity, Inslee proposes, among others things creating refundable tax incentives “to speed the development and deployment of clean technologies,” retiring the “increasingly uneconomic U.S. coal fleet by 2030 to eliminate dangerous pollution and repower our economy with job-creating clean energy,” and providing grants for clean-energy projects developed by communities, governments, and academic institutions.
For the clean vehicles arm of the plan, Inslee wants to implement a new standard for clean cars, expand business and consumer tax credits to “ensure availability and affordability” of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), and create a “Clean Cars for Clunkers” program that would offer trade-in rebates for fuel-inefficient cars.
Inslee also proposes creating a national “Zero-Carbon Building Standard” by 2023, directing federal agencies in 2021 to promote zero-emission appliances like water heaters and dryers and “dramatically increasing access to federal financing to fund both retrofits and new construction to upgrade schools and public building stock for federal, state, local, and tribal governments.”
“In his first policy release, it’s clear that Gov. Inslee embraced the goals of the Green New Deal to decarbonize our economy quickly, grow jobs, and address inequity through a just transition,” said Greg Carlock, the lead author for the progressive firm Data for Progress’ Green New Deal report. “The 100% Clean Energy Plan has the greatest detail of any candidate’s plan so far but focuses on only a portion of the energy sector. I look forward to seeing additional policy and investment proposals to address the full scope of the problem and the opportunities it presents the country.”
The introduction of the plan comes on the heels of O’Rourke proposing his own, which included $5 trillion in new investments on infrastructure and innovation, Day One executive actions to cut pollution, reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, while getting halfway there by 2030, and a plan to immediately address communities most threatened by extreme weather with pre-disaster mitigation grants, expanding the federal crop insurance program, and legislation to help areas recover more quickly.
Inslee’s campaign responded aggressively after his announcement in a statement from campaign manager Aisling Kerins saying in part: “Beto O’Rourke will need to answer why he did not lead on climate change in Congress and why he voted on the side of oil companies to open up offshore drilling.”
O’Rourke went on to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, a decision he attributed not to pressures from other campaigns but because of students and activists he had met on the trail. The campaign also said it would be returning money that didn’t conform to the pledge, which requires rejecting contributions of over $200 from fossil-fuel company executives.
“I welcome others who now might make some proposals now that they’re running for president but I’ve been making them for over a decade and a half,” Inslee said of the field overall. “And so, mine are much more based on long-term commitment.”