Jay Inslee: End government partnership with fossil fuels

Politics

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee addresses the South Carolina Democratic Party convention, Saturday, June 22, 2019 in Columbia, S.C.. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee is proposing a clean break between the federal government and the fossil fuel industry, ending tax breaks for oil companies and banning all drilling and extraction on federal lands and beneath federal waters.

It’s the latest proposal stemming from Inslee’s emphasis on combating the global climate crisis. The Washington governor is building his 2020 campaign around climate action, arguing he’s the only Democrat in a large field pledging to make the issue the federal government’s top priority.

Inslee acknowledges the sway fossil fuels hold in Washington, evident in the billions of dollars in tax subsidies that Inslee and other Democratic candidates want to scrap. But the governor says a fundamental shift in the U.S. economic and political structure is the only way to reduce carbon pollution quickly enough to curb the effects of a warming planet.

Inslee, who launched his campaign in March, already has called for the nation’s entire electrical grid and all new vehicles and buildings to be carbon pollution free by 2030 , with an overall net-zero emissions economy by 2045.

“The climate reduction goals simply cannot be achieved unless America as a nation is prepared to take on the greatest and most powerful special interests that are holding back our clean energy future,” Inslee writes in a 27-page policy outline.

The industry does not dispute carbon pollution’s contributions to climate change, and giants including Shell and BP have made moves to increase renewable energy production and reduce carbon pollution in the face of public criticism and shareholder pressure.

Still, most industry moves have involved nonbinding goals, and industry leaders have urged more cautious approaches than what the environmental advocates and many scientists say is necessary.

Other Democratic hopefuls, including polling leader and former Vice President Joe Biden, have introduced their own climate plans , including proposals to limit tax breaks, but they have not gone as far as Inslee in pushing for such an absolute phase-out of fossil fuels as a major player in the U.S. energy supply.

Inslee’s fossil fuel plan comes ahead of the first Democratic primary debates taking place this week in Miami. Inslee held an event on Monday at the Everglades Holiday Park to highlight the consequences of existing policies on fossil fuels. A Florida state court recently approved oil exploration plans in Everglades wetlands.

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Follow Bill Barrow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP .

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