Inslee release climate change ‘Justice’ plan ahead of debate

Source: By Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ahead of the debate, Inslee on Monday released an “environmental and economic justice plan” aimed at responding to the disproportionate impacts of climate change and pollution on low-income and minority neighborhoods.

A visit to the frontlines: He’s announcing the initiative — the fifth component of his climate change plan — outside the the Marathon Refinery in southwest Detroit, which refines Canadian tar sands oil.

Inslee previously visited the area around the refinery, which he says is the most polluted “zip code” in Michigan (48217), in June to listen to community members about the health effects of pollution in their neighborhood.

His campaign says the area has asthma hospitalization rates nearly triple the state average and higher incidence of cancer. He said residents here also suffer from poor water quality and unaffordable housing. African-Americans are 75% more likely to live in communities adjacent to oil and gas refineries, such as southwest Detroit, according to the Clean Air Task Force.

Adopting a core tenet of Green New Deal: Like Steyer, who released his own “justice-centered” climate plan last week, Inslee wants to center his climate change agenda more specifically on public health and helping areas hurt by pollution.

Inslee agrees with the belief system behind the Green New Deal, which sees climate change as an all-encompassing issue that should be addressed alongside other societal issues.

“We ought to embed and intertwine issues of income inequality and racial disparity because victims of that disparity are victims of the climate crisis as well,” Inslee said in our interview. “The nation can deal with both of these things at the same time, and we wanted to make that central point.”

What’s in the plan?

– Creating a “first-ever national equity” map to chart locations of the country that have suffered from “environmental and economic injustice.”

– Ensuring at least 40% of federal clean energy investments — $1.2 trillion of $3 trillion in spending promised by Inslee — goes to “front-line communities facing greater burdens of pollution, income inequality and climate impacts.”

– Turning the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates federal environmental policy, into the Council on Environmental Justice, to ensure that justice issues governs all climate policy decisions.

– Forming an Office of Environmental Justice within the Justice Department dedicated to punishing corporate polluters, by increasing civil and criminal penalties against them, and supporting local lawsuits against fossil fuel companies for climate change damages.

– Establishing a new Universal Clean Energy Service Fund to reduce costs of energy bills for low-income families.