CEDAR RAPIDS — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, vowed to make beating climate change his No. 1 priority as president, not only for environmental good but because the clean energy industry could be a force in job creation, he said during a Tuesday stop in Cedar Rapids.
“My central message: We need to make this the No. 1 priority of the United States in the next administration, and I’m the only candidate who’s saying this,” Inslee said. “I am the candidate who is committing to make defeating climate change and building clean energy jobs the No. 1, first-foremost, paramount duty of the United States government.”
Inslee, on a three-stop visit to Iowa as part of his Climate Mission Tour, toured SiteGen Solar-Paulson Electric, 3050 12th St. SW, an electrical contracting company with more than 150 employees and a 20.7kw solar photovoltaic array on the roof.
Tyler Olson, a Cedar Rapids City Council member and former Democratic lawmaker, is chief executive of the company and led the tour.
Inslee, the 1st District congressman for Washington from 1999 to 2012 and governor since 2013, is among a crowded and growing Democratic field seeking to unseat President Donald Trump in 2020.
As governor, Inslee is pushing a law to have the state get 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources. He said he has backed expansion of electric vehicles and helped build a $6 billion wind energy industry.
Inslee said he believes defeating climate change could create a billion dollar industry, including new jobs and revenues in emerging fields.
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“We know we can grow millions of jobs in multiple industries,” he said. “Solar is our favorite today, but there are so many others: wind and retrofitting our buildings, electrifying our transportation system, in working in so many ways to provide more efficiencies in our homes and offices. And, when we do this, we want to do it in a way that helps all the people in the United States.”
Inslee said the nation should continue to “right the imbalance” between the fossil fuel industry and bio fuels, when asked about his vision for ethanol, which has been at risk of seeing its subsidies cut.
“We need to continue our efforts to develop all low and zero carbon footprint industries and energy sources, and that includes biofuels a variety of types,” he said. “I do believe that while we have been giving these giant subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and not giving subsidies at all to some of these nascent new industries ... I do believe it’s appropriate to help new industries develop new products.”
Inslee also said he sees a “very promising role for agriculture to sequester carbon dioxide” in the soil rather than emit into the atmosphere. It could be a revenue generator someday, he said. He said the same thing is being evaluated in forests where trees can sequester carbon dioxide in timber.
Republican National Committee spokesperson Preya Samsundar noted Inslee was following in the footsteps of other hopefuls, “looking to peddle their unrealistic policies at the expense of everyday families” and had struggled to “get his single-issue proposals off the ground” in Washington.
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