Inslee: We want world to know 'there is still intelligent life in the US'

Inslee: We want world to know 'there is still intelligent life in the US'

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Wednesday pitched himself as the antidote to the Trump administration's climate change skepticism during his first event in the nation's capital since announcing his presidential run.

“We want the rest of the world to know there is still intelligent life in the U.S.,” Inslee told a crowd gathered for the Renewable Energy Policy Forum.

“We have bold leadership in many, many places. It would be helpful if we had it from the administration.”

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Inslee, the self-proclaimed climate candidate who announced his run at the beginning of the month, spoke at length about the need for urgent action on climate change, pushing that the time to act is imminent while failing to offer specific details about any favored climate policies.

His criticisms of the Trump administration came the same day CBS aired an interview with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who downplayed the dire timeline of global warming, saying the threat was still 50 to 75 years out.

Recent reports from the United Nations, including one released last week, warned that the effects of rising temperatures on the Arctic may already be irreversible and that the world has as little as 12 years to reverse greenhouse gas emissions.

On renewable energy, Inslee spoke highly of the Green New Deal, which he said opened the conversation up to communities previously disengaged.

“I believe very strongly that defeating climate change and building clean energy must be the No. 1 job in the United States, because if it’s not job No. 1, it won’t get done,” he said.

“I think the Green New Deal has been helpful in that it started the discussion.”

Adding that the last presidential election only got a few minutes of debate on the issue of climate change.

Inslee defended criticism lobbed against the plan, introduced in the House in February by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezVA 'ain't broke' — but it can certainly be improved The Memo: GOP banks on Biden falling in primary Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment MORE (D-N.Y.).

“I know people have criticized it because it has timelines people disagree with or a lack of specificity,” he said, adding that people didn’t so heavily demand a timeline on President Kennedy’s promise to make it to the moon.

“People didn’t criticize Kennedy because he hadn’t designed the rotor rockets on the capsule — this is the pushing of the button.”

On the topic of renewable energy growth — a key tenant of the Green New Deal — Inslee didn’t pick a favorite approach, saying he thought it would take a mix of public and private investment.

“There is not one silver bullet on this. ... There are a host of policies that will harness intellectual talent and direct private development into this space,” Inslee told the crowd.

Asked what the right mix of policies to reduce climate change threats might look like, Inslee said he will soon introduce his own “suite” of proposals in the next month or so. He added that a carbon tax would be just one solution offered.

“So I’ve been at this for a long time, and it has seemingly been longer than it should have taken, but right now it’s a magic moment. I believe it is our moment to ignite our passion for creativity and innovation and job creation,” Inslee said.