Jay Inslee Has A Climate Plan And It's A DAMN WHOPPER
Washington governor and 2020 presidential candidate Jay Inslee has just published his comprehensive climate policy plan, a whopper of a proposal to restructure the US economy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and create millions of new jobs in the process. It's a doozy, at 15,000 words, but wow, even if he's not on the 2020 Dem ticket, could the nominee please promise to appoint Inslee as climate czar? The proposal, called the "Evergreen Economy Plan," invokes the New Deal, and is green AF, but doesn't actually use the phrase "Green New Deal," even though it overlaps a whole hell of a lot with the general GND framework. We shall Wonksplain, but first, let's get one thing very clear: Jay Inslee will not outlaw cows.
It's impressive just how comprehensive this policy proposal is, connecting the central goal of stabilizing the climate with all sorts of other aspects of American life -- and like the Green New Deal, this is not a document about going without, but about building a vibrant economy while transforming how we use energy. Inslee quotes Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech outlining the key elements of the New Deal:
We are working toward a definite goal, which is to prevent the return of conditions which came very close to destroying what we call modern civilization.
And like FDR, Inslee isn't out to demolish capitalism (hush with the booing, you) as to save it from its own worst tendencies -- in this case, the pursuit of short-term profit -- leading to conditions that will make the planet unfit for human life. And while action will cost a lot of money, Inslee told HuffPo, the costs of inaction are already very real, and increasing:
The thing that can really cost is the path of inaction, the path of letting Paradise, California, keep burning down, the path of letting Davenport, Iowa, keep flooding, the path of letting Miami be inundated [...] It's too expensive, besides being too deadly.
Inslee's plan has five main emphases: Building a clean energy economy; revamping and building new infrastructure to cut emissions and survive the climate effects that are already unavoidable; revitalizing the manufacturing sector with clean industries; investments in science, research, and new tech; and building all of it with a renewed emphasis on union jobs that can support American families. Hell yes, putting an end to "right-to-work" laws is part of Inslee's green vision, which is as much about economic justice as it is reducing greenhouse gases, although Inslee stops short of the Green New Deal's call for jobs guarantees and universal healthcare. Fine, we can add those in.
The energy parts are pretty straightforward: We have to get rid of fossil fuels and switch to renewable, clean sources of electricity and transportation. To get there, Inslee would mandate that all new buildings be carbon-zero by 2030, and implement a "ReBuild America" initiative to renovate existing buildings at the rate of "one in every 25 buildings every year for 25 years." That's a hell of a lot of construction jobs right there. Inslee would also prioritize investments in low-income and minority communities, since they have suffered the most from dirty energy.
National utility efficiency standards would be developed. Tax incentives and grants would be made available to upgrade buildings, and Inslee proposes partnerships with unions to train "green supers" for buildings, too. Low-income people could get help retrofitting their homes. Inslee would even promote debt forgiveness to utility cooperatives to help them retire old coal and oil-fired generating stations. The plan also includes $90 billion for a "Green Bank" that would serve to provide low-interest loans for clean energy projects.
Inslee would use executive action to mandate that, by 2024, all federal agencies use 100 percent renewable energy, and that all government vehicles be zero-emission. USDA, the Defense Department, and other agencies needing "heavy transportation" would have to start using renewable, low-carbon fuels wherever possible. No, smartass Republicans, Inslee isn't calling for solar panels on tanks, you dipshits.
And that's just for starters. Inslee would use any number of levers in the federal government to promote the transformation to clean energy, including revitalizing New Deal-era programs to make energy production and consumption greener, and to drive economic development in the process. Just one example: Roosevelt had Rural Electrification; Inslee would bring similar programs back to build smart grids and the broadband internet needed to make them work, and oh my, look how the rural/urban internet gap also just got much smaller!
Lots of transportation and infrastructurey goodness here. Inslee would double federal spending on public transportation and work to switch passenger and freight rail to electric power, which is already the standard in Japan and much of Europe. Hell, China's kicking our ass in high speed rail, so we need fast trains too. There would also be grants for local governments to install charging stations for electric vehicles, and Inslee would seek to limit carbon emissions from aircraft to 2020 levels at first, then gradually reduce them as green fuels are developed. No, Donald Trump, he will not eliminate planes or say we need a bridge to Hawaii, you feckless ass.
Another key part of this section is fixing American water systems, which are in terrible shape and not just in Flint, Michigan. Wastewater treatment and stormwater management systems will need to be upgraded both for energy efficiency and to withstand increasing extreme weather. Coastal communities will have to be protected from rising sea levels. And the Forest Service will need bigger budgets to fight wildfires -- and manage forests, albeit probably not with rakes.
Here's the level of detail in this plan: Inslee wants to direct FEMA to update the kinds of disaster recovery supplies it keeps on hand so that when communities lose power in a storm, FEMA can provide the solar panels and controls needed to establish a microgrid.
Inslee wants to see American industry come back with lots of green tech jobs -- not just becoming the world's biggest maker of electric vehicles, but also exporting green tech too. Lots of money for improving battery research, and even a "clean cars for clunkers" program to incentivize people to get electric cars and take their polluting old wrecks off the road. Inslee notes that, for the short time it ran, Barack Obama's 2009 "Cash for Clunkers" program got a lot of dirty older cars off the road, but that it could have been more effectively targeted toward the cleanest vehicles. (Yr Dok Zoom is this week trading his dirty old Olds Aurora for a used Ford Fusion hybrid, and we'd love to trade that for an all-electric vehicle once charging it is realistic. Damned apartment living!)
To spur demand, Inslee proposes a "Buy Clean" rule for all government contracts, which is also a part of Beto O'Rourke's (less ambitious but still ambitious) climate policy. He would also, like O'Rourke (and really, any good plan) crack down on super-polluting gases like hydrofluorocarbons and methane. Inslee would even use US trade policy to push green energy, revisiting existing trade agreements to make environmental protection part of all trade.
Research And Development
You know what? That one's so obvious we'll give it no more than a paragraph. Much money for developing cleaner EVERYTHING, including an "Advanced Research Projects Agency" for the Department of Agriculture, to do something about methane reducing cow feed and all sorts of ag-related green stuff. On top of that, increased climate education at all levels of public education, to indoctrinate the young with facts, as commies will. Don't let this short paragraph fool you -- Inslee has boatloads of details in the full text.
Unions and carbon dioxide emissions may not seem all that related -- apart from the unfortunate fact that some unions have opposed environmental action out of fear that it would be bad for jobs. Inslee makes labor rights a central focus of his plan, though, because if you're going to talk New Deal, you may as well shoot for restoring the one time American labor was actively supported by the government. It's a smart move, and we're especially impressed by how Inslee frames the issue of helping workers who will have to move out of dirty jobs. Forget just calling it "retraining" -- he calls it a "G.I. Bill" for fossil fuel workers, and he excoriates coal companies -- and not even for pushing a dirty product that's poisoning the planet:
Coal companies have been the worst actors: shedding pension obligations and limiting responsibility for long-term health care, life insurance, and the Black Lung expenses of their miners, retirees, and surviving family. All this, while rewarding top executives with compensation bonuses. As mines and power plants have closed, entire communities have been left to foot the bill, with abandoned infrastructure, neglected health and environmental hazards, a torn social safety net, and decimated local economies.
He goes on to condemn Donald Trump's "cynical lies about the resurgence of coal," and calls for policies to help workers and communities handle -- and even benefit from -- the green economy. Inslee doesn't just stop at "retraining" -- he offers a detailed outline of how those workers and communities would be helped. He'd also establish a "Restoration Fund" that fossil fuel companies would have to pay into, to restore the environment in coal and oil communities.
Beyond that, Inslee would strengthen protections for labor across the board, repealing the parts of the Taft Hartley Act that allow "right to work" laws that undercut union representation, strengthening the right to organize, and incorporating much of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act proposed by Patty Murray and Sherrod Brown in the Senate, and by Bobby Scott and several others (including Washington's Pramila Jayapal) in the House. Just the labor sections of Inslee's proposal would be impressive -- but he's gonna keep the planet safe for charismatic megafauna like giraffes, rhinos, polar bears, and even bloggers, too.
We really can't emphasize just how detailed this damn plan is. It's more policy detail than you'd find on several other candidates' websites, combined. Jay Inslee, you damn nerd, you are making us love you. If President Warren doesn't appoint you Climate Czar, we'd like to apply for a job at your think tank. You don't mind profuse swearing, do you?
[Jay Inslee Campaign / HuffPo / Image: Wonkette photoshoop, based on photo by "TEIX 2007," Creative Commons license 2.0]
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.