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Jay Inslee's roadmap to "freedom" from fossil fuels

Jay inslee
Jay Inslee. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

2020 Democratic White House hopeful Jay Inslee unveiled plans Monday aimed at weaning the U.S. off of reliance on coal, oil and gas.

Why it matters: The mix of legislative and executive proposals to restrict fossil fuel development comes just ahead of this week's first debate — and while the Washington governor is very low in the polls, his climate-focused campaign has raised the topic's profile in the race.

How it works: A few pillars of the 27-page "Freedom from fossil fuels" plan...

  • Ending tax breaks and other incentives for petroleum and coal companies.
  • Ending new federal fossil fuel leasing, taking steps to curb development on non-federal lands, and imposing a national ban on hydraulic fracturing.
  • Re-imposing a ban on crude oil exports and restricting other fossil fuel exports.
  • Adding some ideas for helping industry workers transition, including a “G.I. Bill for Energy Workers.”

The intrigue: The plan calls for legislation to impose a "climate pollution fee" — it's not clear how high — on various industries that would cover carbon dioxide, methane and other gases.

Quick take: That part of the plan encapsulates where much of the left (including GND backers) stands on carbon pricing these days.

  • They want it, but it's not the tip of the spear in plans that emphasize massive public investments, tough mandates and other steps.
  • Pricing isn't a "silver bullet," but it's an "effective tool for both ensuring that polluters pay and for generating new revenue to address the harms caused by those emissions," the plan states.

The big picture: Inslee's campaign said the overall proposal is part of his goal to cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2045. Per the plan:

"These climate pollution 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: fossil fuel corporations."

But, but, but: This is a standing caveat with all these plans, but anything that needs Congress would be a super-heavy lift.

Go deeper: Jay Inslee unveils his energy plan