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Jay Inslee’s Latest Climate Proposal Goes Much Farther Than His Challenger’s Plans

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Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announces his run for the 2020 presidency at A & R Solar on March 1st, 2019, in Seattle, Washington.

More than any other Democratic presidential candidate in the crowded field, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has made climate change the centerpiece of his campaign. He’s already introduced climate-focused proposals calling for 100 percent carbon-free electricity and outlining an investment plan that would put $9 trillion over 10 years toward clean energy and infrastructure, creating some eight million jobs in the process. Inslee’s latest proposal, out this week, is his most radical yet: Dubbed the “Freedom From Fossil Fuels” plan, it would end subsidies to the industry, block the development of future oil infrastructure, and ultimately result in a complete phase out of fossil fuel production.

Environmentalists and climate scientists have been warning for some time that the fossil fuel reserves left in existing oil and gas wells and coal mines are enough to push global warming well beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius—the threshold after which experts expect the consequences of climate change to become catastrophic. That means that all new fossil fuel infrastructure, from single wells to pipelines to refineries, will make it that much more difficult to address climate change.

That’s what makes Inslee’s latest proposal targeting fossil fuel production so exciting for climate advocates. A big part of the governor’s proposal outlines policies that would block future fossil fuel infrastructure using a “climate test” that federal agencies would use to “evaluate the lifecycle climate pollution and climate change impacts and vulnerabilities associated with all new major infrastructure projects.” His plan would also give tribal communities more control over their land, limit the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee’s ability to approve pipelines against state regulators’ and stakeholders’ wishes, reinstate the crude oil export band, block the export of other fossil fuels, ban fracking, and end leases for fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

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