In Pitch For The White House, Jay Inslee Introduces Climate Plan To End Oil and Natural Gas Production
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has unveiled a sweeping climate change plan to eliminate oil and natural gas production in the United States over the coming decades. The proposal comes as twenty candidates are set to take part in the first debate tonight and tomorrow.
Inslee has made climate change the sole focus of his White House campaign, but as his record serving in Congress and as Washington’s chief executive shows, it can be difficult to translate these proposed policies into legislative wins.
Inslee’s plan, dubbed “Freedom from Fossil Fuels,” aims to transition the United States to “100% clean energy” and “will responsibly phase out oil, gas and coal production, carbon-intensive infrastructure and exports.”
The proposal says it will “aggressively take on the corporate polluters that are driving the climate crisis: ending oil, gas and coal subsidies, leading America’s transition off of fossil fuels, and holding polluters accountable for the harm they cause. This plan comprises 16 policy initiatives that take on America’s dependence on fossil fuels like never before.”
A number of those policy proposals include ending so-called tax loopholes, preventing new oil and natural gas leasing on federal public lands and offshore waters, banning hydraulic fracturing nationwide, creating a carbon pollution fee, stopping infrastructure projects like pipelines, and ending fossil fuel exports.
Inslee’s track record in both the U.S. House of Representatives and as Governor of Washington State shows that he’s struggled to pass signature environmental policies. Earlier this year in the runup to his presidential launch, E&E News reported that Inslee was unable to pass a cap-and-trade proposal during his time in Congress, nor he could he pass a similar carbon tax as governor, and a rule he issued to curb emissions has been stalled in the courts.
Inslee was dealt another big defeat last year when voters rejected a ballot measure to put a $15 per metric ton fee on carbon dioxide emissions. It was probably Inslee’s best shot at a victory considering Washington State has become one of the most progressive in the nation and 2018 was a Democratic wave year, but the initiative failed 57% to 43%.
Inslee’s plan vows a move to a labor force more tightly-controlled by the federal government. The plan states a clean energy economy will be built “on a foundation of worker protections and smart public investment. Under Inslee’s plan, wages will be strong, unions will grow and prosper, and the power of the federal government will be used to ensure every clean energy job can support a family.”
Oil and gas companies could also be the target of litigation. Inslee said he will support lawsuits against these businesses for alleged “misleading investors and the public.” Inslee likens the strategy to lawsuits against tobacco companies in the 1990s and vowed to have the U.S. Department of Justice either support these suits or join itself.
While this particular plan focuses solely on ending oil, gas and coal production, Inslee does discuss the proposed transition to other forms of energy in another section of his website titled, “100% Clean Energy for America Plan.” Its key planks are achieving zero-emission electricity generation by 2035, producing only zero-emission vehicles by 2030, and constructing building with zero-carbon pollution by 2030. Inslee says this can be accomplished through a variety of different public policy programs such as tax credits, federal financing and grants, and new mandates and standards for efficiency.
If elected, Inslee is likely to have a difficult time enacting much of his agenda. It’s improbable that he’ll have 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and he’s sure to face legal opposition from companies and state and local government.
To bolster his efforts, Inslee has had the backing of wealthy climate donors like Tom Steyer, but has faced criticism for his outsourcing of his work to environmental groups.
With the first Democratic presidential debate taking place this week, Inslee will get a major platform to discuss his climate change agenda and defend his record on the issue.