May 2nd, 2019

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, Greg Dalton will be sitting down with some of the candidates to talk about their plans for a clean energy supply, a greener economy, and their specific strategies for addressing the climate crisis as President of the United States. Keep your eyes out for those episodes on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is a notable departure from other Democratic presidential hopefuls who regularly mention, but rarely prioritize climate change. Yet in a recent poll of public policy priorities, Americans ranked climate change next to last. Could a climate-focused candidate nudge the Democratic platform toward bolder action – let alone become the Climate President?

“I've now passed some of the most meaningful climate legislation in American history,” says Governor Inslee. “I’m very confident that I have a unique ability to lead this nation [and] I favor and I appreciate anybody following my leadership.”

Inslee pulls no punches in touting his environmental accomplishments as governor as a model for national climate action. “The kind of thing that we’ve done in Washington State that I believe is a template for success in Washington [DC],” he says, “so we ought to believe that we can have 100% clean electricity that ought to be something that we can tell Americans that they can have because I have told Washingtonians they can achieve that goal.”

The governor is also unequivocal about why he is running for President as the climate candidate.

“I just decided that I wanted on my deathbed to be able to look at my grandchildren and tell them I did every single thing I could to prevent climate change from destroying their future and that includes running for president of the United States.”

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on May 2, 2019.

Speakers at this Event

Governor, Washington

Transcript 

Greg (Track): This is Climate One, changing the conversation about energy, the economy, and the environment. 

Jay Inslee:  I decided that I wanted on my deathbed to be able to look at my grandchildren and tell them I did every single thing I could to prevent climate change from destroying their future. And that includes running for President of the United States.

Greg (Track): Washington Governor Jay Inslee is the (Democratic) Presidential hopeful making climate change his number-one priority.

Jay Inslee:  We can have 100% clean electricity, that ought to be something that we can tell Americans that they can have because I have told Washingtonians they can achieve that goal. 

Greg (Track):  But will anyone challenging the current president be able to keep the focus on the issues?

Jay Inslee: I know he likes nicknames, right. But the only thing he’s gonna call me is Mr. President.

Greg (Track):   The Climate Candidate – Jay Inslee. Up next on Climate One.

 

Greg (Track):  Can one Presidential candidate nudge the Democratic platform toward bolder climate action – let alone become the Climate President? Climate One conversations feature oil companies and environmentalists, Republicans and Democrats. I’m Greg Dalton.

Greg (Track): As the 2020 presidential election approaches, I’ll be sitting down with some of the candidates to talk about their plans for a clean energy supply, a greener economy, and their specific plans for addressing the climate crisis as President of the United States. Keep your eyes and ears out for those episodes on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Greg (Track): We begin with the only candidate from either party who’s made stopping climate change his top priority. Jay Inslee has been Governor of Washington state since 2013. Although his administration has a strong progressive record on environmental issues, Washington voters have twice rejected putting a price on carbon pollution. I asked Governor Inslee how that record makes his state a national model – and him a national leader – on climate.

Jay Inslee:  Well, what we understand in Washington is the single most important renewable fuel source is the power of perseverance and we have that in the state of Washington.  We also have a sense of creativity and a can-do spirit.  So when plan A did not work, which is a carbon pricing system we went right to plan B, C, D, and E and F.  And I can now tell you that we have passed some of the most comprehensive climate legislation in the United States of America.  I'm happy to tell you we’ve created this strongest, most aggressive, most enforceable and most environmentally just 100% clean electrical grid law in the United States.  But that is just one of the things we passed.

We've also passed a bill that has created the strongest building code standard so we don't heat and cool our outside we take care of our actual inside with the first requirement to actually retrofit our commercial buildings.  It is the strongest building program in the United States.  I'm happy to say we have banned hydrofluorocarbons.  I'm happy to say we've created and reinstituted our incentive program to help people finance electric cars.  And I'm happy to say we’re banning fracking.  We have done what Washingtonians do which is to be very innovative in our policies and we’re making big progress.  Now we're not done.  It is important to realize that.  Washington State will have to take some additional steps to meet our targets and I'm looking forward to the next big tranche.  I am very hopeful that the Washington State Supreme Court will make a very wise decision in the next several months and confirm my cap on carbon pollution that I put in place pursuant to our clean-air laws.  If you know any Supreme Court justices in Olympia, Washington, you can't say much to them, but you can smile and mention my name and I'm hopeful that that’ll happen.

Greg Dalton:  Beto O'Rourke came out with an ambitious climate plan that got a lot of attention, you know, $5 trillion over 10 years zero emissions by 2050.  You had a tit and tat back for him so what you think of Beto’s plan? 

Jay Inslee:  Well listen, I have been leading on this for, you know, at least a decade and a half.  I actually ran for Congress in 1992 on this issue wrote a book in 2007.  I introduced bills in 2003, I joined Jerry Brown in forming the U.S. Climate Alliance now is 24 states.  We form the U.S. Climate Alliance because we wanted to make sure the rest of the world knew there was intelligent life in the United States.  And that has been very productive I've now passed some of the most meaningful climate legislation in American history.  I’m very confident that I have a unique ability to lead this nation.  Look, I favor and I appreciate anybody following my leadership anybody anywhere.  And I'm happy that that's now happening.  I think it's wonderful that candidates have discovered climate change in the last several days.  I think that is a productive thing and I'm looking forward to debate.  I've actually asked the Democratic Party to have the first debate ever during the primary devoted to a discussion of climate change.  I think that's very important to have that.

So I'm very confident that my leadership is having an impact and I'm looking forward to that discussion.

Greg Dalton:  Beto O'Rourke also recently signed the no fossil fuel pledge.  He also said he's not gonna take PAC money.  You have one of the few super PACs operating the Act Now on Climate Change.  So your view on PAC money and fossil fuel money in the campaign. 

Jay Inslee:  Well first off, my view is that we have to have a candidate who is willing to stand up to oil and gas industry, number one.  And that's why from day one I said I’m not taking oil and gas or coal money and I'm the candidate who did that.  I didn’t need convincing unlike the other candidate you just mentioned.  And the reason is that we have to break the back of the ability of this industry to hold us shackled to fossil fuels.  We have to have a candidate who is willing to go toe to toe with this industry who has not taken a half million dollars from them.  Who hasn't voted for it to allow offshore oil drilling and is willing to fight to say that we should take away that $27 billion of taxpayer subsidy money and take that money and put it in clean energy.  So I've taken quite a strong stance in this regard and I'm not going to speak ill of any group that’s working to defeat climate change.  This has to be everybody pulling on the rope at the same time and that's where it come down on this.

Greg Dalton:  Barack Obama ran on hope and change, you’re riding on fear of climate change.  Do you think this is a winning message talking about something that a lot of people think that is scary and they don't wanna think about?

Jay Inslee:  Well, let’s be clear.  Those of us who believe it is American destiny to lead a clean energy revolution and defeat climate change are not the fearful people and are not the pessimistic people.  Donald Trump is the insecure fearful person who is too pessimistic to understand the innovative capabilities of Americans to create a new clean energy economy.  And we're doing that right today in the state.  I visited several businesses and talk to business and working people in the last two days in California looking at the development of electric cars.  I talked to folks who did one of the largest solar panel installations in the country in Nevada last week.  I’ve talked to the people who are installing wind turbines in Iowa and solar panels.  I had to argue with Meghan McCain on The View a few weeks ago and she said, you pesky Democrats are gonna take away our planes and our trains and our automobiles.  I said, well that's funny because this morning I have a shiny blue General Motors all electric Volt charging in the Governor's driveway made by American autoworkers in Orion, Michigan that's the vision statement the we believe in because we are the optimist.  We are the people who are determined and we are the people that understand that this is a can-do nation full of can-do people and they deserve a can-do president and I'm up to that task.  So that's right come down on this issue. 

Greg Dalton:  The Green New Deal has really changed the national conversation on climate.  I had here sitting in that chair, Carlos Curbelo, former Republican member of Congress who did a lot in bipartisan with climate.  He said I don't agree with the new deal the Green New Deal, but it has started a conversation and opened it up.  Barney Frank, longtime liberal member of Congress from Massachusetts, said it's a loser in 2020 because they try to do too much too fast.  Your thoughts on the Green New Deal.

Jay Inslee:  Well I think it has been a real positive development for the national discussion for three reasons.  Number one, it’s got people talking about it, right.  This is a thing that had what four minutes of debate in the last three presidential races.  So anything that will get this even on the debate stage even to provoke Barney Frank that's a good thing to wake up Barney, so that's a good idea. 

I love Barney Frank by the way.  Second, it has raise the ambition of the scope of what is necessary here.  Look, this is a huge mobilization of the United States to build a clean energy economy and I think it has raise people's ambitions levels.  And three and importantly, it has brought more people into the discussion.  So we know who the first victims are of climate change it's usually people living in poverty.  It's the poor who were living next to the freeways breathing diesel smoke and as a result having their kids have an epidemic of asthma.  And so bringing in communities of color and those who been the victims and indigenous communities it has succeeded in this regard.  Now what we have to realize though is that we have to develop a suite of concrete, specific tried proposals and policies that we know will work where the rubber meets the road.  And so the kind of thing that we’ve done in Washington State that I believe is a template for success in Washington.  So we ought to believe that we can have 100% clean electricity that ought to be something that we can tell Americans that they can have because I have told Washingtonians they can achieve that goal.  We have to have a way to decarbonize our transportation system.  We know that is possible driving electric cars, I drove a hydrogen fuel cell car the other day around the capital quadrant.  We know that we need to or want to save literally billions of dollars on our heating and cooling costs.  So we need to improve the efficiency of our buildings.  And my approach will be unique for several reasons.  Number one it will be multi-sectoral, I will address each one of these sectors with a specific proposal on how to deal with that specific proposal.  Number two, it will be based on a real-life scenario where we have really looked at the possibilities in each sector.  Number 3, it’ll be based on successes that we have had in my state.  This is not unicorns and rainbows.  It is based on successes that we can show that I've actually delivered.  Rhetoric is one thing reality is another and I'm able to deliver.  Number four, we’ll have somebody who believes in concrete ideas, not just airy dream like a trance states and we will actually put concrete policies proposal.  And last and I think frankly the most important thing in this is to elect a president with a personal compelling passionate commitment to this mission statement.  And I can tell you why I got into this race I love being governor, I’ve been very successful we’ve done some very successful things in my state.  Things look rosy for me but bottom line I just decided that I wanted on my deathbed to be able to look at my grandchildren and tell them I did every single thing I could to prevent climate change from destroying their future and that includes running for president of the United States.  That's a personal compelling, compassionate, a position I have taken it is motivational for me.  I heard somebody say I will be committed to this on day one.  Look, you gotta be committed to defeating climate change every single day.  In the next president's administration I will organize the entire federal government around this principle and I will bring the political capital necessary to get this job done.  Look, you know, everybody’s got a to do list right on your refrigerator.  This cannot be just on the next president's to do list because if it's not job one, it won't get done.  I would be your president to get this job done because I'll make it job one and I’ll think about it every single morning when I'm shaving and that's a commitment to you.

 

Greg (Track): You’re listening to a Climate One conversation with Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Coming up, we’ll hear more about how the Governor’s achievements at the state level might translate into national climate action.

Jay Inslee: We have stayed true to our value system and at the same time speaking to those people who have had economic insecurity in their lives because we have a message of economic growth and clean energy is central to that effort.

Greg (Track): That’s up next, when Climate One continues.

 

Greg (Track): You’re listening to Climate One. I’m Greg Dalton, and we’re talking to Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state, who’s running for President as the Climate Candidate.  Of course, the issues in presidential campaigns often get swamped by the personalities of the candidates – and never has this been truer than in the era of President Trump. So I asked Governor Inslee how he would take on the current occupant of the White House.

Jay Inslee:  Well, number one I feel very confident about this going toe to toe with him.  Because you know, I know he likes nicknames, right.  But the only thing he’s gonna call me is Mr. President.  So I'll be happy about that.  And I've already, I do feel confident about my confrontation with him because I've already had a confrontation with him.  I have sued him 21 times and I have beat him 21 times in a row.  That’s a pretty good record, okay.

And it started when I was the first governor to stand up against the Muslim ban I’m the first governor to say we should admit Syrian refugees.  I’m one of the first that have stood up against his inhumane literally torture of young people separating them from their parents.  But I’ve also had a personal competition with him.  I was at the White House last February for the National Governors Association.  And when you're there, you get all these governors being sweet talking the president and I had a different approach.  Because he wanted his, this is after the shootings the school shootings, and his approach was let’s just give first-graders Glock pistols wear in their hips and that'll be fine.  And I just stood up and looked him in the eye and I told him how ridiculous that idea was and how dangerous that idea was and how much educators thought that was a ludicrous idea.  And he crossed his arm and he stuck out his lip and sits there, when he’s insecure he kind of rocks back and forth, have you ever notice that?  And he got that kind of pout and I finished by saying Mr. President, you know what, you need to tweet less and listen to educators more.  And in that moment I felt I cannot wait to be on the stage with Donald Trump, okay, so I feel good about this. 

Greg Dalton:  So there’s also some tension and conflict in your own party.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is championing the new deal, we’re here in Nancy Pelosi's district.  She seemed to be trying to tame it perhaps contain it.  Talk to us about the progressive wing who wants to go further faster to the left in your party and the establishment who’s saying slow down let’s not go too far to the left.

[00:21:24] Jay Inslee:  Well, I would suggest creative tension can be healthy and there's nothing wrong with that in the Democratic family.  I think the Democratic family is gonna be united to make Donald Trump a blip in history.  I would suggest because sometimes people wanna wrap themselves around ideological debates about spectrum.  I would suggest, here's where we need to be in America starting in 2021.  We need to be where Washington State is right now because Washington State has been listed as the best place to do business by CNBC and the best place to be an employee by Oxfam.  We have the most rapid wage growth and GDP growth in the nation.  And the reason we have been able to do this is we have developed what I call a middle out strategy of economic development instead of a trickle-down strategy.  We have been dedicated to growing in middle-class and caring for working families and recognize diversity is a strength.  So if I can really quickly tell you what I think should be the American vision statement.  It should be to have Washington State best in the nation paid family leave, so you can care for your family when there is a need.  It should have be Washington's best in the nation the highest minimum wage.  It should be the first net neutrality law passed in the United States that I passed last year so we can protect the Internet.  We have a radical notion in our state that women should get paid the same as men.  Now I know that's radical but I'm happy to tell you we have passed the most strongest gender pay equity law in the United States.  I've heard other people talked about would it be a good idea to get educators pay increase, I'm happy to tell you this year I get an average 12% pay increase for hard-working educators so we can keep them in the classroom.  I’m happy to tell you that we are bringing criminal justice reform, because the racial disparity that has been so pernicious in our justice system.  That's why I’m the first governor to offer thousands of pardons for those who’ve had marijuana convictions, we’re ending the death penalty.  We've had a template for a police violence law so we can reduce violence between police officers and communities of color.  So we have a template for success in Washington State that I don't think you have to worry putting on ideological spectrum.  We just need to put it on a geographic spectrum, which if you want to see the future of America look west the state of Washington. 

Greg Dalton:  So Republicans have Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon from the West.  Democrats have never nominated a westerner.  Are you geographically challenged?

Jay Inslee:  No, I just never run for president before.  This is my first time.

Greg Dalton:  Scoop Jackson tried, right?

Jay Inslee:  Scoop Jackson tried.  It is an interesting question is this more of a just a historical irony or are there reasons for this.  I don't spend my time worrying about that.  I'm just going around the country talking about a positive vision for our nation.  And I think as I've indicated we have proof in the pudding we have actual results not ephemeral ideas of what I'd like to do in the future.  Because I’ve done it in my past and I think that as salience when I go to the Midwest, look we won seven seats we flipped from red to blue this year in governor’s race while I was chair of the Democratic Governors Association.  And the reason we succeeded is that we were able to talk to communities for instance, in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and Kansas.  Those of us who are a play on this team have been concerned maybe we couldn't compete in the Midwest.  I showed that we can compete in Midwest by flipping five governor seats this year.  And the reason is because we have stayed true to our value system of a woman's right of choice respecting diversity is strength, viewing everyone as a particularly treasured measure of member of our community and at the same time speaking to those people who have had economic insecurity in their lives who might've voted for Pres. Obama and did not vote for a candidate in 2016.  Those people we got back in 2018 because we have a message of economic growth and clean energy is central to that effort.  So I'm very confident in our ability to win in the Midwest from the Far West we ought to be doing that.

Greg Dalton:  In 2012, you campaigned pledging to veto new taxes.  2014, facing a big budget deficit you introduce new capital gains tax on high income earners taxes on cigarettes and oil refineries.  What will you do on taxes?

Jay Inslee:  Well first off as we discuss, I would bring a bit of fairness to our tax code which will reel in $27 billion that are now being pilfered out of taxpayers pockets and give to the oil and gas industry.  I will stop the advanced efforts of the coal and fossil fuel interest to take fossil fuels off of our public lands which are assets are now essentially killing us over time because of climate change.  I believe the Trump tax cuts were wrong.  They blew up the deficit they give the huge bulk of everything to the top X percent and they need to be largely repealed.  Then we have to look at the progressivity of our tax system in general.  And I believe we need a more progressive tax system and here's the way I believe this.  Look, climate change is an existential threat and I believe it is the most urgent because we only have one chance to defeat it.  This is our last chance.  But the explosive income inequality and concomitant homelessness and problems of intergenerational poverty is also an existential crisis in the United States.  And I believe tax policy is one of the things we have to use to end that intergenerational poverty to end that enormous inequality.  And this is a problem that we have.  Trump keeps talking about how wonderful his economy is but the fact is people on the lower half of the income scale have not had a raise for 20 years.  You can't say it's a great economy when half the people in the country are working hard and not getting a raise effort.  We have to have a suite of policies, including a public option and healthcare and I'm happy I’m the first governor ever to pass a public option for healthcare.  I'm the first governor that created a long-term care program that will provide long-term care for those of us who will be lucky enough to be senior citizens.  We've done the best minimum wage and by the way, don't let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will destroy your jobs.  You know who's got the highest minimum wage in the United States and the most rapid job creation, it's Washington State and we had persist in these efforts.

Greg Dalton:  Our guest today at Climate One from the Commonwealth Club is Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington a Democratic candidate for president.  I'm Greg Dalton.  We’re gonna go to our lighting round which I know the governor always appreciates.  True or false.  Governor Inslee, growing domestic oil production is good because it means America is less reliant on foreign oil?

Jay Inslee:  Big false.

Greg Dalton:  True or false.  Climate change will hurt your liberal friends in their lifetimes more than they realize?

Jay Inslee:  True, that's true for everybody.  Don’t pick on my friends.  And their precious right now.

Greg Dalton:  True or false.  Realizing the depths and magnitude of the climate crisis has moved you to tears?

Jay Inslee:  You know, interesting question.  I've cried a few times in my life.  I’m thinking about dad right now.  I'm not sure I’ve cried about climate change, but I have been very emotionally impacted when I'm down on the beach with my grandkids.  My dad was a biology teacher, and he would take me down to the beach and he would show me the little critters and like we were just been fascinated by them.  My mom and dad worked on the slopes of Mount Rainier re-vegetating the Alpine Meadows.  And my mom's most favorite flowers in the Alpine Meadows in the slopes of Mount Rainier.  And it is deeply troubling to me when I look at my three grandkids, and I realize that their grandkids or their kids may not be able to enjoy all of the joys that I have had.  And fundamentally this is about humans it's about our joy, it’s about how we enjoy heaven forced to hike in and places to skiing, clams to dig and fish to catch and clean water and there you said air to breathe this is a human issue.  By the way, everybody talks about planetary crisis.  The planet Earth is going to be fine.  It's humans that are in trouble, okay.  And so we have to understand and so it is very emotionally compelling to me.  And again, this comes back where I think I am uniquely qualified for this job, because I think I've embrace this for several decades.  And what I've learned is when you have a hard job, you better get somebody who is up to it to do that hard job to build the mobilization to defeat climate change that we have to build that is of a scale and scope of what we had to do to defeat fascism.  We better have somebody with a deep conviction and my grandkids give it to me every time I see them.

Greg Dalton:  Thank you, Governor.  True or false.  You have thought about when you went to sell your oceanfront home, because rising seas will diminish its value?

Jay Inslee:  You say I have an oceanfront home?  When did that happen?

[Laughter]

Greg Dalton:  Near Bainbridge.

Jay Inslee:  Well, I live high enough for probably good for maybe half a generation anyway.  Look, this is a real issue, right.  So there are places now our coastlines where there's going to become questions in the near future whether you can get insurance for your home.  I was with the mayor of Miami Beach a few months ago where they had to build up their road, their main street by a foot and a half, two feet.  So when you shop now in Miami Beach, you look down at the shopping window, since it's a darn to see you walk down into the shops.  We've had to design one of our water treatment plants in Anacortes, Washington.  It’s designed like a giant floating boat so that when we have sea level rise and concomitant flooding the whole water treatment plant will effectively float.  And the reason I point these things out are this is not something in the distant future, this is today.  It is affecting that the guys who sat next to me on the flight coming down here had a home in Westport, Washington, and he said in the last 10 years he has lost 100-feet of shoreline.  So now he’s only like 60-feet from the Pacific Ocean and he sold his place last year because he realize what the future looked like.  So this is a real term issue but thanks for caring about my home.

Greg Dalton:  True or false.  It’s scandalous that Amazon paid zero federal income taxes in 2018 on $11 billion in profits. 

Jay Inslee:  We’re doing some data about that we've done some new revenue positions in our state, which is going to have some of these businesses paying a fair share to help finance education and mental health care reform and also saving our orcas.  Because we need to save our orcas and I'm proud that I’ve got bills to do that and a way to pay for it.

Greg Dalton:  I’d like to mention a noun and you could just mention the first thing that comes to your mind when I mention carbon capture and sequestration?

Jay Inslee:  The first thing that comes in mind may surprise you, because it's topsoil in Iowa.  Because there is a distinct possibility that we can use topsoil to sequester carbon, at the same time we are reducing erosion from our agricultural lands which is obviously a challenge.  And when you mention carbon sequestration most people immediately think of carbon capture from coal plants and the effort to bury it, which has not worked anyway economically.  But I do think there are possibilities to even generate streams of revenue for the agricultural community, for practices that allow plants to take carbon dioxide out of the air and put it into the topsoil and trees to put it into wood fiber to get it out of the atmosphere.  I think those are things we should think about. 

Greg Dalton:  What comes to mind when I mention the American Petroleum Institute?

Jay Inslee:  Well, this is a publicly broadcast.

Look, the people who work in these industries great people, hard-working people, we should embrace and help them through this transition.  We're going to have a transition in this period to decarbonize the economy.  There are two things we have to do, not one thing, but two things we have to do in that transition.  One, we have to break the bondage of the federal government to the fossil fuel industry.   It's also why we have to get rid of the filibuster so we can finally pass climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate that is absolutely a predicate to success.  But the other thing we have to do is to make sure we embrace the families that have worked in some of these older technologies of fossil fuel industry.  Like we've done in my coal-fired plant, did we talk about this yet?  I’ve been in so many interviews.  Let me give you an example.  So we’re closing our last coal-fired plant in Centralia, Washington.  But we have made sure that we had a transition plan for the families who worked there sometimes for generations in that community.  We've created a $55 million fund to help those families in job training and education and ways to build small businesses and ways to help their local community for infrastructure.  Because these are good Americans, we need to respect them and care for them and help them through this transition.  That’s a just transition.

Greg Dalton:  What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear William Barr?

Jay Inslee:  Gone.

Greg Dalton:  Last one, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Steph Curry?

Jay Inslee:  It's a tie between, awe, I played a lot basketball in my day, and naked envy.

Greg Dalton:  Alright let’s give a round to the governor for again getting through the lightning round.

You’ve talk about a just transition you’ve been traveling the country, you’ve seen people affected by wildfires which ravage the West, floods.  When those thing happened, people who don't have insurance people who have least amount of financial resources to bounce back.  What should the government do because I interviewed Gov. Christine Todd Whitman once she said, Uncle Sam cannot continue to be writing $60 billion checks after these disasters.

Jay Inslee:  The first thing we need to do is stop forest fires from raging and destroying us which means we got to stop climate change that’s the first job of government.  But we do need to help these communities we’re gonna have to just from a community standpoint.  I visited both Paradise, California and I drove through at night, 25,000 people and it was like a post apocalypse Hollywood movie.  I went to Seminole Springs and talked to people with mobile homes.  And the people with mobile homes usually sort of uninsured and they lost everything in these communities.  So it's just heartbreaking.  I was in Hamburg, Iowa a few weeks ago.  It was founded in 1858, it had never been flooded before and now it’s under 5, 6, 7 feet of water and about half of it destroyed.  So I know firsthand the pain of climate change and I've seen it throughout the United States.  I do believe that we have to focus while we’re going through this effort to defeat climate change, to focus on the first victims which are as I've talked about frequently people in poverty, frequently people communities of color, indigenous communities.  We need to help them with their utility bills for instance, in my hundred percent clean electrical grid we have a provision to help lower income people with their utility bills.  We want to focus our infrastructure spending with the victimized communities first.  And if we play our cards right we will have a more just country at the same time that we have a healthier country and I think we’re capable of doing that.

 

Greg (Track): You're listening to a conversation with the climate candidate – Washington Governor Jay Inslee – about making climate the central issue of the 2020 election. This is Climate One. Coming up, how to navigate the crowded field of Democratic candidates.

Jay Inslee: I'm confident we’re going to get a good nominee and I’m confident we’re going to be united.  I'm gonna support that nominee unequivocally.  I know there's a lot of talent in the pool, there’s at least 19 people that would be good vice presidents that I have identified so that’s good news.

Greg (Track): That’s up next, when Climate One continues.

 

Greg (Track): This is Climate One. I’m Greg Dalton.  We’re talking about climate change and the next U.S. President with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who’s running as the climate candidate.  Outside the Seattle urban area, Washington is a red state with agricultural and mountain areas that feel like Idaho and Montana. I asked Governor Inslee what he’s accomplished working with Republicans in his state.

Jay Inslee:  More than you would imagine, actually.  We have passed the largest transportation infrastructure packaged.  We have $70 billion of transportation infrastructure and I did that with the Republican Senate, you know, I can’t build a birdhouse so far in DC.  We've also put in the largest educational package of about $6 billion, and I did that on a bipartisan basis while there was a Republican Senate.  And it takes work and it takes a lot of patience but if you bring those tasks and if you're a good listener, you know, least in my state, we’ve been able to do some really, really good bipartisan things.  And I would hope that I can bring similar skills to Washington DC that doesn’t mean it’s gonna be all hugs and kisses.  But I think I bring those skills to bear.

Greg Dalton:  We haven’t heard a lot in this presidential season yet about commander in chief.  What would you do as commander-in-chief establish America's place in the world? 

Jay Inslee:  First, I would start with the precept very different than the current occupant of the White House, and that is to believe that alliances make us stronger rather than weaker.  Number two, I would look through the lens that when America has made form policy mistakes, it has been most frequently when we have believed that we could restructure other cultures and other communities when that was well beyond our ability to do that.  And that is why I believe now we should bring our troops home from Afghanistan.  We should look at the mission at Afghanistan as sort of threat containment rather than nation building.  And I felt the same thing when I was one of the most vocal opponents of the Iraq War.  I think you have to make independent judgments and I've been very forceful in doing so.  Number three, I think we ought to have a president who actually listens to the intelligence officials, and reads your briefing and makes decisions based on long-term tactical thinking rather than the need for a press conference.  And unfortunately, that's was going on in the White House right now.  And the last thing I will mention is I think we need someone who is willing to stand up for their convictions, even though the winds are blowing against them.  That was certainly true in the Iraq War it was true in 1994, where I represented a very Republican area in Yakima, Washington.  A rural small-town agricultural community, and we only had a couple more votes we needed to pass the Assault Weapon Bill and I knew that if I voted for the Assault Weapon Bill I most likely lose my seat.  I did provide that vote, I did lose my seat and ever since I have not regretted that vote for one heartbeat because it was the right decision.  And I'm pleased to tell you we have the NRA on the run in Washington right now, and we’re passing gun safety legislation as we should.  That's the type of conviction what we need.

Greg Dalton:  You are a lawyer, career politician and a white male and a party that wants seem to want a candidate who is not those things.

Jay Inslee:  So what’s your point?

Greg Dalton:  What’s the path for you in a party that wants someone really left but maybe different?

Jay Inslee:  Well listen, we got a lot of talent in the pool there's a lot of talented people and I'm confident we’re going to get a good nominee and I’m confident we’re going to be united.  I'm gonna support that nominee unequivocally.  I know there's a lot of talent in the pool there’s at least 19 people that would be good vice presidents that I have identified so that’s good news.  But I will give you a serious answer because I think it is a serious question.  So we know that we have real challenges continuing to advance the arc of the moral universe in our country.  We know that we still live in the shadow of racial disparities that continue to bedevil us and gender inequality and people who still are unwilling to accept people for who they are and who they love. And we have so much more work to do in this regard.  And I approach this issue with a lot of humility because I have never experienced that in my own life.  I've never been a black teenager pulled over by an officer in a white neighborhood.  I've never been a black teenager followed around the store because they didn't trust me.  I've never been a woman who's been talked over, you know, in a meeting.  I’ve never been a member of the LGBT community who’s had epithets thrown at me on the sidewalk.  So because I've never experienced that personally, I really believe that I have to dedicate myself doubly or triply to the mission statement of being a leader to help people to do away with the implicit bias and our prejudices and our fears to lead our community along that arc of the moral universe.  And I've done this, I just give you some examples.  I've made sure that the people who work in my leadership cadre, have implicit bias training so that they can be aware of their own biases that are sort of in all of us.  I made sure that in my hiring that we have the most diverse workforce, I think we've ever had pretty much perfectly mirrors our community and that's been a very intentional act.  I look for ways to bring more justice and less racial disparity in our criminal justice system. It’s one of the reasons we have now done several things like decreasing juvenile kids.  A lot of people who are community of color ended up in the criminal justice system.  We’re trying to keep people out of the criminal justice system we’re trying to end this racial disparity in that system.  And I'm proud that we had a measure that affirmative action was banned in my state, quite a number of years ago and it has resulted in inadequate opportunities for a lot of people in my state.  And it has bedevil this and we had a citizens initiative to the legislature to restore affirmative action in our state.  And it was right on the cusp of whether or not the legislature was going to pass it.  And my team help the legislators find the courage to pass it, I'm proud to say we have now restored affirmative action in my state.  And the guy who cast the pivotal vote on this was a guy from kind of a relatively conservative area in my state.  He gave courage to other legislators and I made him Washingtonian of the day.  That's the kind of spirit that I will bring to this job and I feel I’m up to this job.

Greg Dalton:  Thank you, Governor Inslee.  Let’s go to audience questions for Governor Inslee.  Welcome to Climate One.

Female Participant:  Thank you.  Hi, my name is Elisa I’m with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.  Thank you so much for running, Governor Inslee, you got my support and my vote.  I’m curious I know that it’s been very difficult to pass carbon pricing in your state, and many economists believe both on the left and the right that that would be the most important thing that we can do in terms of fighting climate change.  And right now, there is a bipartisan bill with 32 sponsors including my Congressman Barbara Lee and other local congress people who support dispel the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.  And I'd like to know your precision on carbon pricing with your experience, whether or not you would sign that bill into law once it passed through the Congress.

Jay Inslee:  Well, I think a revenue neutral carbon pricing system should be one of the options that are open for consideration.  But I think we should not get into a dead end of thinking carbon pricing is the only way to solve this problem.  Because it might be the most difficult political way to solve this problem, and it might be even assuming the economists are right, it’s much better to get a suboptimal thing to get something done than hang in there for something you can't pass that’s the optimal provision.  So it's one of the reasons I've embraced this multi sectorial approach with regulatory approaches that we know that work both in utility transportation and building sector.  That do not involve a direct price but do move the needle dramatically from a regulatory standpoint.  I mean there's two ways to get investment and behavior, right.  One is a price signal and the other is a regulation that makes a legal requirement.  A legal requirement is not all that bad and so that's the provision that we are engaged with right now.  But as time goes on I believe all of these possible thing should be on the table.  

Greg Dalton:  Welcome to Climate One.

Female Participant:  Hi.  When I’ve asked my friends to support you, a lot of them have expressed concern that you're being framed as a single issue candidate.  And the Democrats don’t tend to support single issue candidates.  How do you balance prioritizing climate and making clear to primary voters that you can lead on others issues as well?

Jay Inslee:  Well, by telling them the truth and that's pretty easy.  And there's two truths in that.  Number one, climate change is not one issue, it is all the issues.  It is an economic issue to prevent the economic disaster that’s gonna befall us.  But the projections are in later decades this century, the economic losses we will experience from an inaction path could be double the last recession.  We know how painful the last recession was.  You ain’t seen nothing yet because climate change could cause multiples of the last recession and economic dislocation.  It is a health issue.  Talked to a couple in New Hampshire a few weeks ago whose daughter missed two years in college because she had Lyme disease because the ticks are moving north.  It is a national security issue because of mass migration that the Pentagon has told us that’s going to happen because of drought that will precipitate political instability and the Pentagon's hair is on fire on this issue.  We're seeing climate change refugees right now from Guatemala today.  So this is not a single issue it is all the issues.  And in order to solve these other issues we have to solve climate change, that's number one.  The second truth is, and I've talked with you a little bit about that.  Look, I'm gonna go out on a limb here, try to exercise as much humility as I possibly can and tell you that I'm the most successful executive person who's running for President of the United States with the incredible achievements of the state of Washington that should be a model for the United States.  And the best thing that can happen in the United States for people of the other 49 states to get the winds I've got for them, and I can do that job if you give me this job.  So that's what I’ll tell them. 

Greg Dalton:  Let's go to our next question.

Male Participant:  Governor Inslee my name is Julian Moore I’m with Climate Careers and we’re an employment platform for startups nonprofits working exclusively on climate change solutions.  So we really appreciate more trying to get people to work of this company of course and get work on the solutions you talked about.  So I appreciate your folks in the new economy.  My question is how do you think federal policy can address the iron rule of climate policy which is that essentially that people are willing to pay more for climate friendly good services, whatever but only to a point, you know, with the evidence being course with the yellow jacket protests in France and elsewhere.

Jay Inslee:  Well, one of the things is, look, the kind of things that I have proposed in Washington do not have direct costs to consumers or taxpayers.  Just like they did not have costs when we required catalytic converters in our cars.  And those of you when I was in your age, as well as I can see you anyway, we could not see Mount Rainier from the campus of the University of Washington because of the smog.  Literally, you couldn’t see it all.  Then the federal government required catalytic converters and when we did that the auto industry said, we’ll never have cars again, you will destroy the economy as we know it this is a communist plot to destroy the capitalist economy.  And guess what, they invented catalytic converters.  And now we've been able to see this beautiful Mount Rainier because of a federal policy that did not direct any particular cost that anybody could identify until our forest fire started to burn down and we know forest fires are gonna double because of climate change.  And for the last two summers you can see Mount Rainier in August literally.  And we had to close our swimming pools because the air quality was so bad for our kids.  So what I would say is I believe that this will be good for the economic prospects of Americans.  And the reason is if you think fighting climate change will cost you something, look how much it’s gonna cost you if we don't fight climate change.  It's gonna cost you through the nose and it's like fixing the roof on your house that is an investment that cost you a lot less than your roof caving in and your two by four rotting, that’s just the reality.  So I feel very confident in this and we’re going to put massive people to work while we’re doing it.  We've done it before and for people who say oh no, we’re not capable of mass re-industrialization of America.  I looked at this number and I hope I've got it right.  In 1939 we made 3,000 airplanes in United States, in the next four years we made 93,000.  That's what we’re capable of doing and we need to do it again and we’re gonna put a lot of people to work when we do it.

Greg Dalton:  Next question.  Welcome. 

Male Participant:  Christopher Philip, I'm with the Climate Institute in Washington DC.  And Oregon is blessed with really strong ocean currents and the Department of Energy says there's 500 gigawatts, a gigawatt is roughly a coal plant, you know, 500 gigawatts of marine hydrokinetics available.  So the question is with the previous thinking administration they said we’re gonna take Ernest Moniz and Steven Chu and make them the secretaries of energy, guys with Nobel prizes and doctorates.  Do you have a plan for your energy component for actually creating the renewable energy like marine hydrokinetics and if so, could you tell me who it is?

Greg Dalton:  I think you sponsored a bill on that one.

Jay Inslee:  Yes.  I’ve actually work to try to deal with some of our permitting issues to look at marine hydropower.  And there's made some progress in this technology it is very challenging because the ocean environment is unbelievably hostile but I'm open to these ideas and also open the idea to help work through some of the permitting necessary to allow it to advance to get a good technology.  We’re also very interested off our coastlines of offshore wind.  We have enormous offshore wind capabilities but we have to figure out a way because our seashore is very steep to have floating caissons to anchor the foundation of the wind turbines and we have research going on in that.  By the way, one of the things we haven’t talked about is we need to increase our federal R&D by so many factors.  Because you know, we spent more money designing one kind of Jeep a few years ago than the entire research budget for clean energy in the United States.  That has to change.  We’re not gonna go to the moon on the cheap and I'm committed to that.

Greg Dalton:  Next question.  Welcome. 

Female Participant:  Hi, my name is Liz.  It’s nice to meet you.  I am very interested in climate I’m very inspired by the fact that you brought it to the forefront and that you're advocating for climate as an issue that frankly it’s like the granddaddy of all issues it really compasses everything.  But I'm also just curious about you as a person it’s not that often I get to talk to a presidential candidate.  And I'm curious as to what has been the best part about running for president personally and professionally anything that you’ve managed to accomplish so far or any hopes and dreams that you may have that you've been enjoying throughout the campaign. 

Jay Inslee:  Well, it has been really invigorating because we’ve gone to such a hard time with such fear and anxiety and divisiveness that the president is engaged in.  And people have been so troubled, rightfully so by his abusive behavior.  But what I have found in talking to people is that I have found a group of people who are trying to pick the nominee of the Democratic Party who are very engaged, very energetic very committed very desirous of being unified very open-minded to ideas and very judgmental.  Really making sure candidates show what they're about not accepting just, you know, bumper sticker kind of slogans but really drilling down to really see who's got the chops and who doesn't.  And this has been actually very inspiring to me.  So that's been the best part is just talking to people from all the states I've been to.  And I wish more people could hear how positive people are about this experience coming up.  Now, for my perspective that's a good thing because I'm an underdog, right.  I don’t start with a national name ID.  I started where President Carter and Clinton started at, you know, 1%.  And so I've been an underdog my entire life.  I won in a very Republican district in 1988 I went to Congress in 1992 in a very Republican district.  I beat a Republican incumbent in a swing district 1998 and 2012 I beat a guy who started 16 points ahead of me.  So I'm just where I'm always as a great underdog with a great attitude.  So this has been the best part about it.

 

Greg (Track): You’ve been listening to a conversation with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who’s running for President as the Climate Candidate.  Stay tuned over the coming months for more in our series of discussions with the candidates about what they’d do for climate as President of the United States.

Greg (Track): To hear those and other Climate One conversations, subscribe to our podcast at our website: climateone.org, where you’ll also find photos, video clips and more. Please help us get people to talk more about climate by giving us a review wherever you get your podcasts.

Greg (track): Kelli Pennington directs our audience engagement. Tyler Reed is our producer. Sara-Katherine Coxon is the strategy and content manager. The audio engineers are Mark Kirchner, Justin Norton and Arnav Gupta. Anny Celsi and Devon Strolovitch edit the program. Dr. Gloria Duffy is CEO of The Commonwealth Club of California, where our program originates. I’m Greg Dalton. Climate One is presented in association with KQED Public Radio.