Inslee unveils $9 trillion plan to battle climate change

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Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee on Thursday unveiled a wide-ranging plan he says would combat climate change by shifting the U.S. from dependence on fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The Washington State governor claimed his proposal -- called the "Evergreen Economy Plan" -- would create eight million jobs over 10 years as it builds a clean energy economy for the country.

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But it doesn’t come cheap.

The price tag for the plan: $9 trillion in public and private money.

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“I believe America can defeat climate change and build a strong, clean energy economy for working families,” Inslee said in a statement.

Spotlighting his efforts in his home state, the governor detailed that “this plan is built on our successes in Washington state, where we have passed strong clean energy laws and we have the fastest-growing economy in the nation. We need to rebuild the middle class with strong union jobs, while making the investments needed to power America’s clean energy transformation. The Evergreen Economy Plan provides a detailed roadmap to a clean energy economy that grows jobs in every community.”

The Republican National Committee slammed Inslee in a statement to Fox News.

“Not surprising to see yet another liberal Democrat propose a $9 trillion dollar plan that has the federal government calling the shots at the expense of American taxpayers and jobs. Meanwhile, under President Trump, the economy is flourishing because of his pro-growth, free-market approach. The choice for voters in clear," said RNC National Press Secretary Blair Ellis.

First as a congressman, and now as a two-term governor, Inslee has spent decades as a leading advocate for reducing rising carbon levels in the atmosphere to reduce the effects of climate change.

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His latest efforts come as many progressive Democrats in Congress – as well as some of his rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination – have embraced the Green New Deal, the sweeping proposal that aims to transform the country’s economy to fight climate change while enacting a host of new health care and welfare programs.

But Inslee, who’s making combating climate change his top issue in his White House bid, is spotlighting his own plan rather than signing onto the Green New Deal.

The plan would marshal 28 new or existing programs to shift U.S energy markets from fossil fuel dependence to renewable sources; transform U.S. automobile manufacturing and construction practices; and remake the nation's infrastructure from public transit to municipal water and rural electric cooperatives.

Inslee projects about $300 billion in annual government spending over the first decade of the plan, with incentives he says will generate about $600 billion in matching private sector investment on everything from expanding solar energy to rebuilding dilapidating water systems like the Flint, Michigan, infrastructure that has garnered national headlines.

Among Inslee's ideas are a ReBuild America program that would help retrofit existing public and private structures to meet new energy standards and a new version of the post-World War II "G.I. Bill" targeted to help coal industry workers who lose jobs in a transition to renewable energy. The coal worker aide would include guarantees for health insurance and pension benefits, in addition to funds for career training.

Inslee unveiled his plan at an event at Washington D.C.’s wastewater treatment plant, which his campaign noted treats one billion gallons of water each day and uses cutting-edge technology to turn waste into 10 megawatts of electricity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.