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In Far-Reaching Plan, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Proposes Radical Changes to Fossil Fuel Industry

"Governor Inslee's plan is the first we've seen that truly acknowledges this emergency and proposes critical steps to turn it back."

The Exxon Mobil Refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, seen from the top of the Louisiana State Capitol, March 5, 2017.

The Exxon Mobil Refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, seen from the top of the Louisiana State Capitol, March 5, 2017. (Photo: William Clarke Casey, cc)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee isn't one of the top contenders for his party's nomination for president in 2020, but his campaign, which focuses on climate change, is pushing to end U.S. fossil fuel dependence by hitting climate crisis-exacerbating companies where it hurts: the wallet. 

In Inslee's "Freedom from Fossil Fuels" plan, the governor calls for ending subsidies for fossil fuels, ensuring any new energy infrastructure is put through a rigorous permitting process, and introducing fees for greenhouse gas emissions. The plan, which marks the most comprehensive approach to addressing the climate crisis presented by a 2020 Democrat to date, is part of what Inslee described in comments to HuffPost reporter Alexander Kaufman as working "in the only time period that's consistent with our survival in the world."

"This will get us off fossil fuels in the only time period that's consistent with our survival in the world as we know it," said Inslee. "Don't expect these people to go easily."

Inslee's plan shows how the conversation around climate is moving, said Julian Brave NoiseCat, Green New Deal Strategy director for Data for Progress. NoiseCat told environmental news outlet Earther Monday that the plan's "move toward an investment and accountability framework is a very notable paradigm shift."

"The notion that corporations should have to pay for damages to the public health of frontline communities or to industries impacted like fishing, agriculture, and those types of very climate-leading indicator sectors is out ahead," said NoiseCat. 

At the same time, however, President Donald Trump has taken every opportunity to roll back climate regulation and make exploiting the country's resources easier for energy companies. 

In a statement, environmental advocacy group Oil Change U.S. celebrated Inslee's plan as a retort to Trump's energy-happy policies.

"The U.S. is poised for a massive oil and gas expansion that would make achieving our climate goals basically impossible if left unchecked," said the group. "Governor Inslee's plan is the first we've seen that truly acknowledges this emergency and proposes critical steps to turn it back."

Oil Change added that the other candidates need to "choose a side" between Big Oil and the public. 

"Governor Inslee has shown he's unafraid to stand with the people," the group said, "and we expect the full Democratic field to join him."

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