Inslee takes climate message to renewable industry

Source: Timothy Cama, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019

Democratic presidential hopeful Jay Inslee went before a renewable energy forum today, telling the industry its private-sector investment is crucial to fighting global warming.

The Washington state governor’s appearance wasn’t a campaign speech. But he channeled many of the same climate change themes he’s used on the campaign trail in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire to emphasize the urgency and hope he feels on climate.

“We know that we are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it,” Inslee said in the opening keynote address at the American Council on Renewable Energy’s policy forum.

“We know that this is a moment of great peril, but we also know it’s a moment of great promise. It is a moment of great economic progress, it is a moment of great economic promise, and it is a moment that I believe that we should seize to make America on the course to fulfill our destiny of building a clean energy economy to lead the world in this effort.”

While the need to greatly boost renewable energy deployment has been a major theme of Inslee’s campaign, he sought to appeal to the industry as a big player in his climate plan.

“The success of this renewable industry is unparalleled,” Inslee said.

“Jobs in the clean energy sector today are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy,” he continued. “These are jobs for today, with a vision of tomorrow for a healthy planet for us to live on.”

Today’s forum focused on policy, but Inslee also sought to shine the light on the role private enterprise plays in the climate fight. He said the private sector must continue to play that starring role, and that government financing cannot be a substitute.

“What is by far the largest driver and provider of equity and entrepreneurial skill and labor skills and intellectual talent? It is the private sector,” he said later in a discussion with Gregory Wetstone, ACORE’s president. “The driving force is the private sector.”

Inslee’s appearance came nearly two weeks after he launched his campaign for president, becoming part of a crowded field of more than a dozen candidates hoping to take on President Trump next year. While he’s touched on other major Democratic priorities such as health care and immigration, his bid has focused squarely on climate as his No. 1 issue.

He told reporters after his appearance that voters in states he’s visited, including Iowa and Nevada, have been very receptive to his climate focus.

“So far, we’ve had a really good response. We’ve gotten a good response everywhere we’ve gone, where I met entrepreneurs in Nevada doing solar and wind energy in Iowa, and people in New Hampshire understand climate change big-time with sea-level rise,” he said. “So we’ve gotten a good response.”