Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday announced she would adopt Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's 10-year climate plan, while also expanding on his blueprint with a series of additional investments costing $1 trillion to offer additional protections to workers and help fund a radical transition of American infrastructure and industry away from fossil fuels.
The Warren proposal, which would cost $3 trillion total, was released on the eve of a CNN town hall focused exclusively on the climate crisis. The Massachusetts senator is one of 10 2020 Democratic primary candidates scheduled to take questions Wednesday night on their environmental plans.
Warren's announcement signals her hopes of picking up the climate change baton from Inslee, who dropped out of the race on August 21, the same day he released the final piece of his comprehensive plan. In a Medium post published Tuesday night, Warren also challenged her rivals to meet Inslee's standard.
"Jay didn't merely sound the alarm or make vague promises. He provided bold, thoughtful, and detailed ideas for how to get us where we need to go, both by raising standards to address pollution and investing in the future of the American economy," Warren wrote. "While his presidential campaign may be over, his ideas should remain at the center of the agenda."
Inslee, who initially entered the primary focusing exclusively on climate change, departed with a reputation as one of the party's leaders on the issue. Warren and Inslee met in Seattle last weekend, aides to both told CNN, and discussed climate policy. Warren told Inslee in that meeting that she would be endorsing his plan.
A week earlier, at a rally that drew thousands, Warren told reporters that, in a previous conversation, they discussed "regulatory change" and ways to better publicly convey "the urgency of the moment."
"Gov. Inslee has made his Climate Mission plan an open source document, and he's pleased to see Sen. Warren taking up major elements of his plan," said Jamal Raad, a spokesman for Inslee. "He is particularly impressed that Senator Warren is adopting his aggressive targets to reach 100% clean energy in electricity, cars and buildings, ending coal power, and making a commitment to investing in good, union jobs and a just transition for front-line communities."
Nearly all of the top tier 2020 Democrats have now released comprehensive climate change plans. Warren and Sanders, two early supporters of the Green New Deal, have been most open in using its language, goals and framework to help guide their proposals. Warren's new rollout folds in her earlier proposals to invest heavily in green manufacturing, research and development, and the marketing of new technology overseas.
Those plans combined with her new $1 trillion pledge -- which Warren says would be "fully paid for by reversing Trump's tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and giant corporations" -- would add up to $3 trillion, and have the goal of creating a stimulus effect by spurring new private investments. Her timeframe is equally ambitious: zero-carbon emission commercial and residential buildings by 2028; zero-carbon emission light-duty passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks and all buses by 2030; and zero-carbon emission and renewable electricity by 2035.
Warren in her post repeatedly underlined her promise to ensure what activists call a "just transition" by promising to prioritize labor's input, investments in new job-creating projects, and by guaranteeing health care and pensions for dislocated coal miners.
"The jobs we create will be unionized jobs with accompanying pay scales and benefits. For too long, there has been a tension between transitioning to a green economy and creating good, middle class, union jobs. In a Warren administration, we will do both things," Warren wrote.
She added, "We'll ensure benefits to uplift and empower workers who may be hurt by the transition to a more green economy, including for coal workers and others currently employed in the fossil fuel industry. That means providing them with financial security -- including early retirement benefits -- job training, union protections, and benefits, and guaranteeing wage and benefit parity for affected workers."
Warren would also replace the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with a Federal Renewable Energy Commission and pledged to use executive action "under the Clean Air Act and other authorities to set high regulatory standards and impose ambitious interim targets along the way" as the legislative fight unfolds.
As part of her infrastructure planning, the Warren proposal would create incentives for the production of electric-powered cars, with an additional promise to put charging stations at "every federal interstate highway rest stop" by 2025 -- making them "as widespread and accessible tomorrow as gas stations are today."