Inslee presses Trump on climate change in House testimony

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeBloomberg, Steyer focus on climate change in effort to stand out Our government and public institutions must protect us against the unvaccinated Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE became the first Democratic presidential candidate to testify before Congress on Tuesday, appearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to offer sharp criticism of the Trump administration on his signature issue of climate change.

As Democrats work to fast-track a bill that would recommit the U.S. to the Paris climate accord, Inslee said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE abandoned America’s international responsibility by walking away from the agreement.

Responding to committee members who argued the agreement did not do enough to push developing nations to curb their carbon use, Inslee said U.S. inaction discouraged other countries from taking action on climate change.

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“There are a lot of people … saying we shouldn’t do something until the last person on earth does something, and then they turn around and say we shouldn’t be in the Paris agreement. It’s not very inspiring to the rest of the world and encouraging them to do things when we tear up an international agreement we’re a part of,” Inslee said. “That’s not going to inspire representatives of China or India.”  

Inslee has made fighting climate change the cornerstone of his fledgling presidential campaign, saying he wants to be known as “the climate guy.” 

But he was quickly questioned by a fellow Washingtonian, Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Lawmakers voice skepticism over Facebook's deepfake ban House Ethics Committee finds McMorris Rodgers misused official resources MORE (R), who asked how Inslee arrived at the hearing and what he would be doing to offset his carbon footprint. 

Ranking member Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenConservative groups aim to sink bipartisan fix to 'surprise' medical bills Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Republicans offer details on environmental proposals after Democrats roll out plan MORE (R-Ore.) criticized Inslee’s invitation at the expense of advancing other policy proposals.

“It’s disappointing today that this hearing is really more about the politics of climate change than realistic work on solutions,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time in my 18 years on this committee where we cleared the decks for a presidential candidate to come take center stage.”

Walden pushed for the committee to take up the Green New Deal, while other Republicans on the committee opened by voicing that “climate change is real.” 

But the discussion diverged over whether the green economy can produce jobs.

Republican representatives from coal and fossil fuel-producing states questioned how a transition to green energy would impact local economies as well as global markets reliant on U.S. energy exports. Rep. Markwayne MullinMarkwayne MullinOvernight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans push back on bipartisan bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners Lawmakers beat Capitol Police in Congressional Football Game MORE (R-Okla.) repeated Republican calls for an “all of the above” approach to energy that would include fossil fuels. 

Inslee touted the transition program used during the closing of Washington’s last coal-fired power plant as well as what he said will be a wealth of high-paying green energy technician jobs in the solar and wind sector. 

“There are a heck of a lot more jobs fighting climate change than there are in denying climate change,” Inslee told the committee, but the U.S. risks losing jobs to growing green energy industries overseas.

“The question is where the jobs are going to be created, not whether they are going to be created,” he said.