Inslee presses Trump on climate change in House testimony

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeInslee calls on DNC to hold debate focused on climate change Several 2020 Dems say they're ready to face Fox News town hall Inslee: Schultz 'almost totally' AWOL from policy in Washington state 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 TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report 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 RodgersWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's Overnight Energy: Wheeler vows to keep funds for Great Lakes cleanup | Inslee presses Trump on climate in House testimony | Dems seek more funds for Interior watchdog Inslee presses Trump on climate change in House testimony 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 defend tech from GOP crackdown Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders unveils new Medicare for all bill with backing from other 2020 Dems | White House slams Sanders' rollout | Drugmakers, 'middlemen' point fingers on insulin pricing House votes to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules 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 MullinInslee presses Trump on climate change in House testimony GOP lawmaker draws backlash for telling Democratic colleague to 'shut up' during heated ObamaCare debate House Republicans find silver lining in minority 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.