Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) unveiled his second major climate change proposal on Thursday, doubling down on his sole mission to elevate the issue on the national stage and convince voters he’s the only one to tackle it.
“The most obvious, huge job creating opportunity we have is in the clean energy sector,” Inslee told The Daily Beast in an interview. “This is not a matter just of urgent environmental peril, it’s a matter of tremendous economic promise.”
The two-term governor’s “Evergreen Economy” plan aims to add 8 million jobs over a 10-year period by investing $9 trillion into the clean energy economy. He’s expected to detail several of the proposal’s 28 policy initiatives focused on innovation, advanced manufacturing, green infrastructure, and deployment, in a speech at the DC Water Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in the afternoon.
So far, Inslee has struggled to gain mainstream momentum in a field of nearly two dozen candidates, registering in low single digits in most preliminary polls. But he’s hoping his experience creating high wage jobs in Washington state, coupled with his wide-ranging economic blueprint, will put him ahead of others with less detailed plans.
“This is based on experience, not just good intentions,” Inslee said. “Look when you work on something for a decade and a half it seems to translate to actual action.”
The plan outlines several new programs to introduce clean energy and infrastructure across the country, including new rules for having the federal government use clean energy and quintupling clean energy research funding. It also offers a GI bill-inspired transition for coal workers.
“People in the coal industry are dedicated, hard-working Americans,” Inslee said, while criticizing President Donald Trump’s handling of workers in that sector. “They deserve a president who first off doesn’t lie to them.”
Over the past several weeks, multiple Democratic presidential candidates joined Inslee in prioritizing climate change on the campaign trail. But some took a more adversarial approach, jabbing former Vice President Joe Biden for reportedly saying he’s interested in finding a “middle ground” to reduce carbon emissions. Inslee, along with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), also criticized Biden’s reported intentions, which Biden’s campaign later disputed.
“I think it’s great that other candidates have now started to see the polling on this issue,” Inslee said, “and they thought, ‘well gee, maybe I should say something on this issue.’”
Without calling out candidates by name, he said some of his rivals “want to stay on the coal train,” adding, “half measures don’t cut it here.”
Inslee’s campaign says he has hit the polling threshold required to compete in the first Democratic National Committee debate in June, and that he’s expected to clear the 65,000 unique donor mark as well. He recently petitioned DNC Chairman Tom Perez to host a climate change-only debate, and said while he hasn’t yet heard back, he hopes to raise the issue to the committee in the next several weeks.