(CNSNews.com) - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, one of many Democrats running for president, told a CNN town hall Wednesday night that his candidacy comes with a promise:
"I will make you this pledge right now, if I am elected to this high honor, I will make defeating climate change the number-one priority of the United States."
Inslee told the gathering, "We have to decarbonize our entire economy in the next several decades. This is a massive re-industrialization of America. And I think the Green New Deal has succeeded in helping people understand that."
Inslee has called the Green New Deal an "aspirational document." "Do you fully endorse it?" CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked him.
"Well, I endorse exactly what is going on here, which is, this has done three really beneficial things for America," Inslee said:
Number one, it's got people talking about climate change. You know, this is one of the reasons I'm running. There was only four minutes of climate change in the last three presidential debates. I'm going to end that.
Number two, it has also raised people's ambition as to the scope of the challenge. Look, we have to decarbonize our entire economy in the next several decades. This is massive re-industrialization of America. And I think the Green New Deal has succeeded in helping people understand that.
And third -- and this is really important -- it has led people to recognize that we have to not -- to have not just a transition, we have to have a just transition to clean energy, where the first victims of climate change, which are marginalized communities, get help and communities of color. That has been a very successful thing.
Someone in the audience asked Inslee what a transition to a green economy would look like, and what he would say to Americans who live in economies that depend on coal, gas and oil.
Instead of answering that specific question, Inslee talked about a woman who lost her mobile home in a tornado.
So Blitzer followed up, asking Inslee, "What happens to the approximately 1.2 million Americans right now, still working fossil fuel extraction and power generation?"
"It's a very important question," Inslee responded. "Look, one of the things we talk about in this is that we need a just transition. This is going to be a huge transition. We are a fossil fuel-based economy largely right now, and we know we're going to have to go to clean energy sources by the mid-century. This is just a scientific fact.
“But while we do this, we have to make sure that people during that transition have opportunities along with everyone else. So we need to do the kind of things we've done in Centralia, Washington, where we are closing our last coal-fired plant, to have about a $55 million fund to help those employees in training and transition assistance, to help businesses, where we can make sure that local economy continues to thrive, and give a transition period of several years so that there's not, you know, trauma for these families.
“This is very important, Inslee said. “But we know we can do this."
Inslee said the most rapidly growing job in America is solar installer, followed by wind turbine technician.
"This is a future that I believe is our destiny to grasp. And when we do it, we're going to bring everybody along. That's the American way, and I'm pledging that tonight," he said.