Community Climate Justice 

Governor Inslee's Plan for Environmental & Economic Justice in an Inclusive Clean Energy Economy

“Where you live, what you eat, where you work, your education, are the things that determine whether or not you live or die. And climate change exacerbates all those things.”
– Dr. Armen Henderson, Miami, FL

“This side of town folks back then thought that it was an area where that’s where they considered the people as nobody. So that’s where that landfill is located… and all of the industrial facilities were located right fence line to the neighboring community... My sister, she died of acepsyssomphilitis… and my father, he died of lymphoma... Throughout the community it’s like every other house, or every house. Then you start to see a pattern of problems there.”
Harold Mitchell, Spartanburg, SC 

In the 10 years I lived here, every year, it's getting hotter… Climate change has always been in the back of my mind, but after this, it hit home. There are 10 kids on my son's soccer team; five of them lost their homes.
– Bracken Carter-Webb, Agoura Hills, CA

 “Now we understand the magnitude of having an oil refinery in your community. It’s just a pollution nightmare. And we’re all getting sick from it…. And, right now, the oil refinery is in the midst of closing down, and we are fighting to have that space used for green space… and to create ways to derive energy that’s not going to pollute the neighborhood and poison future generations.”
– Shamar Pitts, Philadelphia, PA 

 “As much as it is a challenge, climate change is also an opportunity to change the way our economy has disenfranchised people, and to do things right.”
– Zelalem Adefris, Miami, FL 

 “This is Detroit: we can be the leaders of the clean energy economy… and make sure we get the jobs - good-paying union jobs - that help us build the new energy economy, for everybody.”
– Michelle Martinez, Detroit, MI

 “We went through three mayors, four city managers, turnover on (City) Council, but the only thing that didn’t change was a little acorn, which was the community, and that was the piece that kept everything moving here.”
– Harold Mitchell, Spartanburg, SC


Today, Americans face two great crises: the escalating impact of climate change and a widening gulf of inequality. For too long, policymakers have treated these crises as separate – considering economic justice and environmental concerns with little regard for one another. But America’s climate crisis and structural inequality crisis are deeply interrelated, and they demand integrated community-driven solutions.

The facts are clear: climate change and pollution disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color, and are major contributors to ongoing economic and racial inequality. For decades, corporate polluters have used lower-income communities as dumping grounds, and these communities now face an enormous and unequal burden from the costs of pollution and climate change.

The 2018 National Climate Assessment found that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect low-income populations, both urban and rural. Another recent study showed that “redlined” communities – primarily communities of color historically locked out of fair and affordable home ownership – face 2.4 times the rate of hospital admissions for asthma than non-redlined neighborhoods in the same cities. Likewise, Tribal nations are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change, and have known a history of injustice and exclusion from discriminatory policies. Historically marginalized communities are bearing the brunt of the growing costs of climate change and pollution - exacerbating an already uneven playing field.

Throughout his campaign, Governor Inslee has ensured his Climate Mission agenda has focused on supporting the communities that are hurt first and worst by climate change. He has spent time listening to communities where the harms of economic inequality and climate inaction collide. And he’s seen how locally-driven leadership is helping communities survive.

In Detroit’s 48217 zip code, Inslee heard from community leaders like Theresa Landrum about local cancer clusters and extremely high rates of childhood asthma as a result of living in the shadow of an oil refinery. In Spartanburg, South Carolina, he toured a community plagued by fertilizer and chemical waste that has come together, through the leadership of former State Rep. Harold Mitchell, to forge a community-led plan for revitalization and sustainability. Inslee has witnessed people struggling to rebuild after climate-driven disasters – from families whose mobile homes were destroyed by wildfire in Agoura Hills, California, to local small businesses facing financial struggles following devastating floods in Davenport and Hamburg, Iowa. In Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood Inslee saw first-hand the impact of climate gentrification – the result of developers’ moving to higher ground to avoid sea level rise displacing a historic community of Haitian immigrants. In Philadelphia, he heard from community members impacted by the health effects of an oil refinery that recently exploded. And in New York, he learned from the leadership of local climate justice advocates who built a coalition and political power to achieve community-led policy change for their state.

Governor Jay Inslee believes that America’s climate crisis and America’s structural inequality demand cohesive, community-driven solutions. Environmental justice – and confronting a system of economic exclusion and environmental racism – must be at the core of any plan to mobilize the United States to defeat climate change and create a more prosperous and inclusive clean energy future.

Putting Justice at the Center of America’s Climate Mission
Building Wealth from the Bottom-Up in Front-line Communities
Supporting Working Families & Empowering Local Leadership for a Just Transition

Inslee’s “Community Climate Justice” plan puts environmental justice at the center of America’s climate and economic policy for the first time, with bold investments supporting community-driven efforts to confront climate inequality and a comprehensive strategy to lift up communities most impacted by climate change and pollution. Inslee’s plan was built on the input and ideas from the many communities he has visited throughout this campaign. This plan includes 3 key strategies:

I. Putting Justice at the Center of America’s Climate Mission – Building a just and inclusive clean energy economy with federal action to respond to America’s legacy of environmental racism, economic injustice and structural inequality by:

  • Implementing an ‘Equity Screen’ on all major federal climate, energy, and environmental spending and policy-making, using a new federal ‘Equity Impact Mapping’ initiative to track pollution hotspots, economic inequality, and climate change impacts. These policies will scale successful state programs from California, New York and Washington state.
  • Transforming the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) into a new Council on Environmental Justice (CEJ) to ensure front-line voices have a seat at the table to inform federal policy, and to put justice and equity at the center of a national climate mobilization.
  • Holding corporate polluters accountable by establishing a new Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) within the U.S. Department of Justice. OEJ will direct federal law enforcement in a new mission against environmental destruction and discrimination that has harmed health and cost lives.
  • Ensuring pollution-free communities through a major new Clean Water for All initiative, following Washington state’s lead with nationwide bans on PFAS chemicals, and aggressive agenda for clean air attainment, Superfund cleanup, and community safety.

II. Building Wealth from the Bottom-Up in Front-Line Communities – Prioritizing climate funding into the communities hit first and worst by climate change, pollution, and disinvestment; levelling the playing field for home-ownership and affordable housing; and ensuring greater economic opportunity for all. Including:

  • Guaranteeing 40% or more of federal investments building a clean energy economy will go to front-line communities facing greater burdens of pollution, income inequality and climate impacts. This will result in at least $1.2 trillion in federal investment over the next decade into these communities, under Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan.
  • Launching major new investments in efficient buildings, sustainable infrastructure, and clean energy assets in ways that build energy democracy and local wealth creation, support small businesses, and ensure community voices lead in solutions.
  • Confronting America’s housing crisis by expanding the Housing Trust Fund and supporting structural solutions for home ownership, affordable rental housing, and investment without displacement.
  • Expanding federal tools for investment in marginalized communities and broadening access to capital investment and markets for women- and minority-owned small businesses.

III. Supporting Working Families & Empowering Local Leadership for a Just Transition – Protecting workers and communities on the front lines of the energy transition, and empowering local leadership to accelerate the arrival of America’s clean energy future. This includes:

  • Eliminating energy insecurity by creating a Universal Clean Energy Service Fund to reduce working families’ monthly energy costs.
  • Passing a “GI Bill for Energy Workers” to ensure that workers their families have financial, health and retirement security in a just transition to the new energy future.
  • Empowering local voices and community leadership, and Tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, in accelerating pollution reductions and protecting people, land, and clean air and water.

Governor Inslee’s plan is built off the principle that environmental justice must be central to America’s efforts to confront climate change and build a just and inclusive clean energy future. And that local voices and community leadership are integral in this national mobilization. This month, the first-ever Equitable & Just National Climate Platform was issued by dozens of national organizations, stating that “all people and all communities have the right to breathe clean air, live free of dangerous levels of toxic pollution, have access to healthy food, and share the benefits of a prosperous and vibrant clean economy.” The Community Climate Justice plan is built on concrete policies aimed to help achieve these goals.

Gov. Inslee’s Community Climate Justice plan is the fifth part of his Climate Mission agenda, a comprehensive plan to defeat climate change and to build an inclusive clean energy economy. This agenda will create 8 million good-paying and union jobs, and transition the U.S. to a 100% clean energy economy - cutting U.S. climate pollution by 50% by 2030, achieving net-zero emissions by 2045, and using American leadership to compel ambitious global action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, following the latest recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The previously-released plans are:

  • “100% Clean Energy for America Plan” to set strong standards that rapidly shift the economy to clean energy, with specific 100% clean targets for electricity, buildings, and transportation, while ending coal power by 2030;
  • “Evergreen Economy Plan” that outlines a transformative agenda to leverage $9 trillion to build the clean energy economy, spur innovation and grow 8 million good-paying union jobs; 
  • “Global Climate Mobilization Plan” which uses ambitious American leadership to catalyze transformative climate action around the globe; and
  • “Freedom from Fossil Fuels Plan” to end fossil fuel subsidies and giveaways, hold corporate polluters accountable, and close the door on America’s fossil fuel era.

In the coming weeks, Inslee will continue to outline additional components of his Climate Mission – the most ambitious and detailed climate action agenda ever put forward by an American presidential candidate. This will include a focus on supporting thriving and sustainable American agriculture and rural communities, improving resilience and recovery in the face of climate disasters, and more.

Putting Justice at the Center of America’s Climate Mission

In order to build a just and inclusive clean energy economy, America must confront the long-standing structural drivers of inequality, harm to public health, and environmental racism that have scarred America’s development in the past. This requires a new federal government focus on environmental justice, with an agenda that holds corporate polluters accountable, listens to front-line communities, and invests in strategies that honor their knowledge and direct experience. In doing so, we can ensure that the clean energy economy provides a roadmap toward a better future for all American communities.

  • Taking on Structural Inequity & Ending Environmental ‘Sacrifice Zones’ – Disparate environmental impacts are not accidental but are rooted in a long history of deep structural inequality and systematic disenfranchisement spanning the sweep of American history. Disadvantaged communities were allowed to become ‘sacrifice zones’ — the cancer alleys and down-wind communities on “the other side of the tracks” that for too long have borne the brunt of an unequally shared prosperity, denied full access to the tools of government protection or wider public concern. For example, African Americans are 75% more likely to live in “fence-line” communities adjacent to oil and gas refineries, such as the 48217 zip code in Detroit that Gov. Inslee visited in June. To effectively address structural imbalances in our economy with community-led strategies, both policymakers and community members need better access to information and better integration of that data into decision-making to set informed policies that account for the cumulative impacts of exposure to pollution, health disparities, and economic inequality – ranging from transportation and housing inequity, to concentrations of persistent poverty. These data will be used to address hotspots of harm and injustice and invest in better outcomes in front-line communities. This effort starts with gathering that data that will be used in decision-making, to reduce risk, reverse harm, and better plan for the future.
    • “Equity Impact Mapping” to Track Cumulative Environmental Impacts, Pollution Hotspots, Demographics and Income Inequality: Building on a strong track record of state leadership in programs like the Washington State Environmental Health Disparities Map and California’s CalEnviroScreen, the White House will lead a major interagency initiative to identify Census tract and community-level information on pollution hotspots as well as patterns of economic inequality, racial demography, and vulnerability to climate change. These “Equity Impact Mapping” assessments will provide transparency for better-targeted federal policies to address structural inequality and provide front-line and vulnerable communities with the resources they have been too often denied. Organizing these data will empower smarter government investments, better decision-making, and improved integration of federal actions in service of community-led priorities. This Equity Impact Mapping initiative involves:
      • Tracking cumulative environmental health disparities, pollution and climate impacts exposure, as well as economic inequality, racial demographics, and vulnerability to economic dislocation in communities undergoing energy transition.
      • Working across federal economic and statistical agencies and bureaus, national laboratories and institutes, and other executive agencies involved in the collection and utilization of geographic and community data.
      • Strengthening the extent and quality of data available through federal reporting tools for polluters such as the Toxic Release Inventory and the Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which add transparency and assure a right-to-know for affected communities.
    • Implementing an “Equity Screen” on Major Federal Actions: Key White House offices will establish an “Equity Screen” through which all federal agencies’ climate, energy and environmental investments, regulations, permitting decisions, and other major actions will be evaluated. This policy builds on state-level policy progress, such as New York state’s newly-passed Equity Screen, and California’s climate investments using the CalEnviroScreen program, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) EJ Screening & Mapping Tool. It will involve: 
      • Establishing an Equity Screen, using Equity Impact Mapping, to analyze and make decisions about how major federal actions interact with communities’ different environmental and pollution legacies, economic and racial demographics, as well as community capacities and climate vulnerabilities. 
      • Driving this Equity Screen into major policy and budgetary decision-making, at the agency headquarters level, as well as in implementation, operations and decisions at the regional, state and field-office levels.
      • Implementing this Equity Screen by strengthening Executive Order 12898, and by directing key White House offices to drive it into all agencies throughout the federal government in implementing their respective authorities, programs and investments; and then by working with Congress to codify this into law.
    • Preventing Concentration of Pollution and Environmental Harm: Federal policy debate around combating climate disruption has often concentrated only on establishing pure market mechanisms to achieve pollution reduction. While these policies can reduce carbon pollution in an economically efficient way, an exclusive focus on average emissions reductions can mask concentrations of pollution and cumulative exposures that result in environmental injustices in front-line communities. In spite of tightening regulation, pollution that is costly to reduce could be allowed to persist in one location in return for potentially cheaper reductions elsewhere. The resulting concentrated pollution hotspots are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color, pitting these communities against large corporate polluters. To realize efficient climate pollution reductions while safeguarding environmental justice, this plan commits to:
      • Instituting rigorous ongoing monitoring of the effects of climate policies on conventional pollutants in disproportionately impacted communities, sharing this data with these communities, and using the monitoring to ensure reductions are achieved in such areas. 
      • Supporting climate policies that must achieve absolute local pollution reductions in disproportionately impacted communities, and ensure uniform application of high standards and effective enforcement of all new and existing air quality, water quality and hazardous waste regulations.
      • Implementing ambitious sector-specific performance standards to achieve rapid energy transformation throughout the economy. Governor Inslee is the only candidate for president who has offered strict and ambitious performance standards to drive bold, absolute climate pollution reductions and clean energy transformations in transportation, electricity, buildings, and more.
    • Confronting America’s Legacy of Racial and Environmental Injustice: Unequal distribution of the harms and benefits of economic development can be traced back through settlement patterns and ownership structures profoundly shaped by the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, displacement of native populations from tribal lands, redlining and housing discrimination against black families, and concentration of diverse immigrant populations into neighborhoods of poverty. This historic structural inequality in the U.S. is inextricably linked with damage to land, water and public health in marginalized communities. A national mobilization aimed to build a more just and inclusive American economic future must be grounded firmly in recognition of the harms that have been visited upon particular American communities. The Inslee Administration will address racial, economic and environmental inequity through a cohesive and interdisciplinary approach that recognizes the intersecting challenges facing communities that have suffered historic inequality. This approach will rely on data to structure new investment and policy that confronts the climate crisis with equity, through the lens of social justice. The Inslee Administration will act by:
      • Directing federal agencies to examine historical patterns of racial discrimination and environmental racism, and their relation to community health, inequality and lower rates of home ownership and resulting asset-building opportunities, today. 
      • Tasking federal agencies to study and report on community environmental impacts including potential connections between lead-contaminated drinking water and rising heat waves and greater incidence of violence in impoverished communities; suppression of legitimate protest in front-line communities where leaders speak out against polluting facilities; over-incarceration and serious environmental health concerns in the state of prisons in the U.S.
  • Putting Equity at the Center of Federal Climate Action by Establishing White House and DOJ Environmental Justice Offices: Defeating the climate crisis, and building a truly just and inclusive clean energy economy will require substantial federal investment and an all-out national mobilization to rise to the challenge. This plan puts environmental, economic and racial justice at the heart of this mobilization, and involves front-line communities directly in the formulation of federal policy. In order to marshal and coordinate all the tools of the federal government in support of this environmental justice mission, Governor Inslee will structure his federal administration to put environmental justice at the heart of key decision- and policy-making.
    • White House Council on Environmental Justice: Transforming the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) into a new Council on Environmental Justice (CEJ) that will for the first time center federal environmental policy around equity, justice and inclusion. The CEQ was created under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 50 years ago, and was by executive order expanded to assume responsibility to coordinate federal programs, issue regulations to agencies, and make recommendations to the president for controlling pollution and protecting the environment. Establishment of the CEJ will involve:
      • Maintaining CEQ’s critical historic functions, under the landmark NEPA law, with a new, revitalized mission that will drive justice into all climate, energy, and environmental policy and program decision-making across government agencies. This will include input into federal investments, in partnership with the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), and economic policy, alongside the National Economic Council (NEC). 
      • Incorporating voices from the most-impacted communities at the highest levels of federal policy-making, by empaneling an Environmental Justice Advisory Council within the CEJ, comprised predominantly of representatives from front-line communities or community groups, and also from labor unions, states and local governments or their associations, tribal nations, academic leaders, environmental organizations, and business. 
      • Directing the CEJ to work with all federal agencies to ensure meaningful engagement with communities on policies that affect their environment, including applying the spirit of the Jemez Principles that offer a template for effective and inclusive organizing that respects the voice and experience of local communities. This includes engagement with Tribal nations with thorough, transparent and meaningful consultation, and a recognition of their sovereignty. The role of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a federal advisory committee established for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), can serve as a useful precedent for other agencies.
    • DOJ Office of Environmental Justice: As part of his Freedom from Fossil Fuels Plan, Governor Inslee has proposed establishing an Office of Environmental Justice within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), to hold offenders fully accountable under maximum application of federal law. Through this “DOJ-EJ” office, the Inslee Administration will aggressively pursue of maximum civil and criminal penalties under environmental law — in particular against repeat offenders. The Inslee Administration will also assure full funding and staffing for the EPA Office of Enforcement, and together with the DOE-EJ, they will protect all communities from pollution, especially those most-vulnerable and worst-impacted. And the administration will ensure polluters pay for and are held fully accountable for their actions. Further DOJ-EJ responsibilities will include:
      • Studying and recommending revisions to increase civil and criminal penalties on polluters for the damage they cause. 
      • Working with the DOJ Civil Rights Division to aggressively enforce discriminatory environmental impacts against particular communities in America.
      • Supporting lawsuits against fossil fuel companies and major emitters brought by local governments and others, to hold those parties accountable for the climate damages their pollution has caused and their decades of work misleading the public and their investors about climate change.

  • Pollution-Free Communities – President Trump falsely claimed that America has “crystal clean” water, but the truth is, Trump has been a disaster for air and water quality, turning the federal government into a wish-fulfillment service for big polluters. In 2019 American communities continue to suffer unacceptable levels of pollution. America’s clean drinking water crisis came to national consciousness following the disaster in Flint, Michigan, just one of many similar injustices that are occurring around the country: more than 5,000 U.S. water systems serving roughly 18 million people have been cited by the EPA for the levels of lead in water. Air pollution is an epidemic: One 2019 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) estimated that air pollution costs 107,000 American lives and over $800 billion from the U.S. economy each year. These burdens fall disproportionately on low-income communities and those of color. But rather than advance an agenda for health and justice, the Trump Administration has chosen instead to put the profits of fossil fuel executives and corporate polluters over the health and welfare of American citizens, by rolling back nearly 90 different pollution standards, and dramatically relaxing enforcement in fines, penalties and prosecution referrals. Governor Inslee’s Community Climate Justice plan sets out a new path through a number of strategies.
    • Clean Water for All: Gov. Inslee’s Clean Water for All initiative, announced as part of his Evergreen Economy plan in May, will ensure every American has access to clean water, as a human right. This initiative will address the enormous backlog of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater projects, as well as flood protection and water resources needs to close America’s water infrastructure deficit. In the Great Lakes region alone the investment need is over $170 billion during the next 20 years to help maintain drinking water for more than 30 million Americans. This Clean Water for All initiative shall target the front-line communities most at-risk of contaminated water. This initiative includes:
      • Fully funding the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and infusing other federal investments to help close an $82 billion annual funding gap in drinking, waste- and stormwater infrastructure. In doing so the initiative creates new union jobs throughout America. 
      • Ensuring that clean drinking water is not only available but affordable for all Americans, especially low-income families, by establishing a new Low-Income Water Affordability Program. The program builds upon the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Water prices are rising across the country and low-income families increasingly cannot afford the cost of water services, Governor Inslee believes that no family should have to choose between paying their water bill and paying for food, clothing, and other essentials. 
      • Targeting action to identify and remediate lead-threatened drinking water in America’s schools, as well as completing an energy retrofit of every public school within 10 years - as called for in Inslee’s “Ready for the Future” education plan.
    • Enhanced Risk Management for Community Protection: The Inslee Administration will use all manner of federal policy tools - including a reinstating and strengthening of the EPA’s Chemical Disaster Rule undermined the Trump Administration - to improve the safety of front-line communities near polluting facilities. One 2016 analysis of “all permitted industrial facilities across the United States” showed that “there exists a class of hyper-polluters — the worst-of-the-worst — that disproportionately expose communities of color and low income populations to chemical releases.” These facilities can become particularly dangerous during or in the aftermath of a disaster. For example, in Houston in 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused dozens of unplanned leaks from high-risk chemical facilities - releasing 7 million pounds of toxins. But state regulators had turned off air quality monitoring stations because of the heavy winds and rain. As a harmful benzene plume settled on the city of Manchester, a community of 3,000 in which 97% are people of color and 90% are low-income, one nonprofit funded mobile monitoring stations and found levels of cancer-causing benzene so high that workplace safety regulations would have required breathing equipment. This Houston incident highlighted the need for greater federal action and monitoring support to protect American communities. In response, Inslee’s plan includes:
      • Increasing grant funding available through the national Hazard Mitigation Planning Program by a factor of 10 or more, with priority consideration for local and state agencies working with disadvantaged communities to reduce the hazards they face. Fully implementing the multi-agency National Mitigation Framework - an intergovernmental initiative predicated on involving whole communities.
      • Directing the EPA to require that polluting facilities share information and emergency response plans with neighbors in case of explosions or chemical disasters and to require buffer zones between chemical facilities and homes and schools
      • Increasing EPA inspections, monitoring and strict fines on facilities that spill toxic air and water contaminants. Studying the impact of unplanned chemical releases including cumulative impacts of daily exposures on fence-line communities.
      • Reversing the Trump EPA’s and congressional actions to exempt industrial agricultural facilities from emergency emissions release reporting requirements, which could expose farm-workers and nearby residents to toxic air pollutants. 
      • Tasking EPA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to partner together to implement continuous monitoring requirements for toxic pollutants and creating “mobile monitoring” teams that track toxins released during natural disasters.
    • Polluter Pays: Holding corporations responsible for the cleanup and costs of their pollution. Under this “polluter pays” principle corporations will be required to pay for the damages and cleanup from the pollution caused by the products they make and the emissions and waste they produce. This pollution overwhelmingly burdens disadvantaged communities. This includes forcing companies to adhere to more stringent environmental standards and new cost mechanisms that will ensure meaningful pollution reductions. These policies were first put forward in Inslee’s Freedom from Fossil Fuels Plan:
      • Creating a new Climate Pollution Fee, as a polluter-accountability and complementary driver of emissions reductions, starting with the economic sectors in which it will have the greatest impact, and from which revenue will support front-line communities and those recovering from climate disasters. 
      • Requiring polluters to pay for the costs of cleaning up their pollution through reinstating and tripling Superfund taxes to cover restoration of America’s most toxic polluted sites. 
      • Implementing these and other policies such that low-income households will be protected from cost increases and to ensure that costs are fully levied on those responsible.
    • Safer Chemicals Agenda: Of all the actions the Trump Administration has taken to undermine federal safeguards for environmental and public health, few are as brazen as the EPA’s work undermining protections for Americans against toxic chemicals. Just this month, Trump’s EPA rejected a ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children. But even prior to Trump, there has been only meager federal leadership on chemical safety. While there are tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce today, the EPA has banned only a small fraction of them. Whereas the European Union (EU) restricts over 1,300 chemicals in cosmetics, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has done the same for just 11 personal care products. Under Governor Inslee’s leadership, Washington state has been one of the nation’s foremost leaders in chemical safety — fighting for a thorough understanding of chemicals used in modern-day commerce, and breaking new ground in regulating those that could be dangerous. But the federal government must assume leadership in confronting the prevalence of harmful chemicals in American communities, fields, workplaces and waters, and the dangers they present to children, in particular. Inslee’s plan involves:
      • Following Inslee’s leadership in Washington state by implementing nationwide bans on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have contaminated drinking water at more than 600 sites in 43 states throughout the U.S. Inslee has made Washington the first state to ban PFAS in firefighting foam and in food packaging. 
      • Implementing industrial safety regulations, based on those being advanced in leading states like Washington and California, that will require companies to implement modern practices to prevent the chemical explosions, fires and releases – such as the recent fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery – that occur each year in communities across the nation. 
      • Strengthening and ramping up enforcement of existing chemical safety laws, especially under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and supporting states to continue their leadership protecting their residents from harmful chemicals.
      • Reversing Trump Administration decisions that put chemical industries over the best available science and public health, and taking action to restrict products like Chlorpyrifos that are known to present chemical hazard to Americans, especially children.
    • Clean Air in America: The Inslee Administration will confront the epidemic of air pollution in communities throughout America, which has left over 40% of the American population — more than 130 million people — living in areas with unhealthy levels of ozone and particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution – exceeding National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). This is compounded in communities of color – with African-American and Latinx households especially breathing more air pollution than white households, largely from on-road sources like diesel trucks. Solving these issues requires aggressive enforcement of existing Clean Air Act regulations and promulgating new standards to reduce dangerous air pollution, from PM2.5 and ozone to mercury and carbon. Governor Inslee has set forth an aggressive clean air agenda in his 100% Clean Energy for America and Freedom from Fossil Fuels plans. Through these, the Inslee Administration will pursue clean air for every community by:
      • Mandating all zero-emission new light- and medium-duty vehicles and buses by 2030, and working with local communities on further actions to confront transportation emissions to improve local air quality.
      • Achieving 100% zero-carbon new buildings by 2030, and partnering with local jurisdictions that want to go further, faster.
      • Retiring every coal plant and achieving 100% carbon-neutral electricity by 2030; and 100% clean, renewable and zero-emission electricity by 2035.
      • Aggressively enforcing existing and new pollution standards under the Clean Air Act, including reversing the Trump Administration’s work to undermine Clean Car Standards, methane rules, NAAQs standards. This includes directing the EPA to identify and report to the White House on all available pathways for slashing climate pollution under the Clean Air Act.
    • Revitalizing Superfund Cleanup and Brownfields Redevelopment: As part of federal investments to build a more just, innovative and inclusive clean energy future, in his Evergreen Economy Plan, Governor Inslee proposed increasing investments in Superfund cleanup and in Brownfields and “Brightfields” redevelopment of sites that are largely located in urban and marginalized communities. Today, nearly 1,400 Superfund sites remain to be decontaminated, and as of 2015, approximately 53 million Americans lived within 3 miles of a final, deleted, or proposed Superfund site, including 40% and 27% overrepresentations of African-Americans, and Latinx and Hispanics, respectively. Inslee’s plan will build off of strong examples of local leadership leveraging federal funding alongside non-public investment to build healthier and more sustainable communities. In South Carolina the ReGenesis program led by Harold Mitchell has revitalized and redeveloped two Superfund and four Brownfields sites in Spartanburg, using a combination of federal and local funds from both public and private sources to create energy efficient housing, a community center, and healthcare infrastructure that directly serves the community. ReGenesis is a model for the country and a symbol that hard work and strategic investment by the federal government, driven by local priority-setting, can meet ambitious environmental goals today. Inslee proposes expanding the EPA Superfund and Brownfields Programs – reversing Trump Administration proposals to cut to both programs and to eliminate the latter. This includes:
      • Ramping up investments in Superfund cleanup activities, in partnership with local front-line communities, and reinstating and tripling Superfund taxes on corporate polluters. 
      • Increasing redevelopment of Brownfields to achieve more sustainable approaches to local land use.
      • Reconstructing these crucial cleanup and redevelopment programs on a foundation of bottom-up and community-driven planning, and by building in protections for communities against displacement.
      • Providing additional funding for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training. This will ensure that the health and safety of the men and women who perform clean-up activities is protected.

Building Wealth from the Bottom-Up in Front-line Communities

Building a just, green economy requires policies to strengthen communities from the ground up, including the opportunity for local residents to build wealth and participate in new economic opportunities. Data show that urban development patterns that isolate low-income communities and concentrate environmental harms alongside poverty are the result of decades of systematic policy choices. Last year, the Federal Reserve reported that white families have 10 times the net worth of black families and more than 8 times the net worth of Hispanic families. This plan launches new federal investment programs and targets them specifically into disadvantaged communities to support energy democracy and community asset ownership, a major building energy retrofit initiative, and sustainable rural and urban infrastructure. It also sets forth a bold housing agenda, since housing policy sits at the center of American economic inequality and is closely linked to environmental and pollution damages. And it highlights new actions to provide market access and new investments in marginalized communities.

  • Dedicating 40% of Investments into Front-line Communities: Governor Inslee’s Building a Just Future Plan calls for guaranteeing at least 40% of all green federal investments go into front-line communities experiencing the greatest environmental burden, economic inequality, and climate change impacts – so frequently communities of color. This is equal to at least $1.2 trillion of $3 trillion in federal investments called for in Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan. These investments will range from deploying clean energy and energy efficiency; building sustainable energy, transportation and water infrastructure; remediating pollution; supporting clean and competitive American manufacturing industries; catalyzing clean-tech innovation; achieving a just transition, and more. And this commitment builds on Governor Inslee’s previous policy plans that prioritize workers and community benefits in clean energy investments, just as he has done in Washington state, by promoting projects with businesses owned by women and people of color; apprenticeship utilization; prevailing wages determined through collective bargaining; and community workforce and project-labor agreements. This 40% guarantee is a necessary floor that follows in recognition of the number of Americans living in poverty and a legacy of exclusion for historically redlined communities. Some states have committed to invest at least 35% of their green investments into disadvantaged communities, while 40% has been put forward by environmental justice leaders as a key funding level to address inequity and ensure inclusive prosperity and economic opportunity – a number that is appropriate nationwide in building America’s clean energy economy.

  • Supporting Energy Democracy, Investing in Clean Energy & Infrastructure: Communities can succeed or struggle based on how and whether investments are made in the fabric of their infrastructure and into the strength of local job creation and business formation. New public and private spending on building retrofits, transportation and mobility solutions, food security, and urban redevelopment can serve as an engine for accelerating a new wave of investment in a just and green future. Key local tools include:
    • Supporting Energy Democracy and Community Asset Ownership: Critical to a truly just and inclusive clean energy economy is the opportunity for all people to build their own local solutions, own their own assets, and retain the financial benefit derived from the clean energy transition in their communities. This is an agenda for shifting away from corporate, centralized power in a fossil fuel economy to more distributed ownership and power in the clean energy economy. Rather than send their hard-earned wages to far-off utility and oil corporations, more Americans should have the opportunity to build and own home-grown clean energy solutions. Governor Inslee’s plan includes support for bottom-up, community-driven clean energy economic development strategies that give individuals and communities the opportunity for ownership and control over their own energy future. This includes:
      • Establishing a federal multi-agency Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) Program, modeled on California’s TCC program, which will invest 100% of its funding into building capacity, organizing, developing and implementing sustainability plans led by disadvantaged communities. 
      • Creating a new Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Communities Initiative that sets by 2040 a national goal to meet 10% of total electricity demand (for buildings, transport and industry) through distributed solar energy generation, as called for in Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan. This program would drive approximately $150 billion in additional investment over the next ten years, helping fulfill Governor Inslee’s proposed 100% Clean Electricity Standard with more local, distributed and resilient power. This initiative will focus federal resources to support personal and community solar ownership, community sourcing of utility-scale power, and public power — especially in front-line and low-income communities, as well as communities of color. 
      • Creating a Clean Community Energy Grant Program, as part of the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, to offer direct grants for clean energy projects developed by community-based non-profit organizations. This program was also first proposed as Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan. 
      • Achieving greater energy democracy through the creation of Energy Districts – which Inslee has modeled off of the Energy Districts created by local communities in Iowa – to drive bottom-up sustainability strategies in rural communities.
    • “ReBuild America” Building Energy Upgrade Initiative: Governor Inslee has set forth an ambitious agenda to ensure an energy retrofit of every building in the United States in the coming years to put millions to work reducing pollution and power bills and building healthier communities. This initiative will be targeted first and foremost into low-income communities where it can have the greatest impact — upgrading inefficient buildings, reducing working families’ power bills, and employing Americans of all skill-levels in the important work of rebuilding. In addition to providing strong incentives for homeowners and commercial building owners to upgrade their buildings for energy efficiency, renewables, and conservation, the ReBuild America initiative will also put these green building and energy upgrades within the reach of all customers, regardless of income, credit score, or renter status.
      • Driving utilities’ investment into energy efficiency through a national Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) for utilities to achieve all cost-effective energy efficiency measures, and that requires energy assistance to low-income households.
      • Expanding, reforming and increasing accessibility to the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), two key federal programs supporting low-income energy affordability. Currently, LIHEAP is funded sufficiently to reach only one in five eligible households and WAP has funding to reach about 1% of eligible households. By streamlining eligibility verification for these programs together with a range of other federal, state, and utility-backed benefits programs, this program will weave a more integrated social safety net, while increasing renewable energy deployment and beneficial electrification for harder to reach rental customers. 
      • Directing federal investment and financing to fund the work of retrofitting all public schools and government buildings. Providing sufficient funding to retrofit, and upgrade, every American public school building within 10 years. These retrofits are especially important for low-income communities as well as Tribal, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian school facilities, and these facilities will be retrofitted first.
      • Linking new incentives to strong labor and environmental standards to create good jobs with decent benefits and build to the highest standards. 
      • Establishing a federal reserve fund to backstop inclusive financing for all cost-effective energy upgrades through utility on-bill investments, which eliminate the barriers to participation inherent to loan programs that involve consumer credit risk. 
      • Providing technical assistance to utilities on the use of tariffed on-bill investment to capitalize all cost-effective energy upgrades regardless of the income, credit, or renter status of each customer. Leading by example with the federal Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the largest utilities in the country, which is already working with a community owned electricity distribution company to facilitate inclusive financing for housing upgrades. 
      • Creating partnerships with local groups and establishing local environmental justice advisory committees involving community organizations to guide regional and national implementation.
    • Next-Generation Rural Electrification and Economic Development: Beginning with the New Deal in the 1930’s a wave of new federal investment in economic development in America’s rural communities began — by extending critical infrastructure like electric power to places where private investment would not scale at speed. These investments were crucial in reinvigorating local rural economies during the Great Depression, and beyond. Today, many of these same challenges exist in rural communities, which have suffered a much more difficult economic “recovery” since this century’s Great Recession formally ended. This is now an opportunity and a necessity for clean energy investment. To address the ongoing challenge of providing rural energy, Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan calls for:
      • Reinvesting into a new generation of rural electrification and infrastructure development — including clean energy, transmission, beneficial electrification, energy efficiency, broadband, and more. 
      • Beginning investments in rural areas suffering from the highest levels of poverty and disinvestment. This includes the creation of Energy Districts modeled on the Soil Conservation Districts established in the New Deal era.
      • USDA Rural Utilities Service financing for the retirement and replacement of coal power plants to eliminate carbon and toxic air pollution in communities. 
      • Launching regional reinvestment in economic diversification and growth, through entities like the Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority, and the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission.
      • Once again tasking regional power marketing administrations such as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to engage in the construction of clean energy generation and transmission assets owned by and for the benefit of the public.
    • Sustainable Mobility, Transportation & Smart Growth: As was noted in Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan: how far Americans must commute from home to work and the way they travel has a tremendous impact on the climate, local air quality, and public health. Inslee’s Climate Mission agenda is one of massive reinvestment into infrastructure. This Community Climate Justice plan calls for ensuring those investments promote equity and accessibility in sustainable communities and the clean energy economy. This will strengthen vibrant communities; providing better local air quality and more healthy and livable neighborhoods. This agenda includes:
      • Launching a massive federal investment in public transit buildout with zero-emission technologies to reach marginalized communities, and to allow federal dollars to be used to promote free or reduced-fare ridership in public transportation. In his 100% Clean Energy for America Plan, Governor Inslee has committed America to achieving 100% zero-emission buses throughout the country. 
      • Providing state and local governments with increased resources for transit-oriented development, smart growth land use planning, intermodal transportation, commute trip reduction programs, pedestrian-friendly public spaces, and micro-mobility programs that are accessible, beneficial, and involve in their planning low-income communities and communities of color. 
      • Creating new U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) performance management rules that will require life-cycle analyses and reduction strategies for climate and other pollutants.
      • Expanding funding in green building and climate-resilient smart-growth infrastructure, including building integrated advanced energy projects, through the Department of Housing & Urban Development HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, and renewing funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. Targeting these investments for low-income communities.
      • Relaunching and expanding the HUD-EPA-USDOT Sustainable Communities Initiative, with a focus on locally driven bottom-up community development plans that promote climate pollution reductions, affordable and accessible housing, smart transportation, and job creation. 
      • Investing in electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and expanding incentives to make the growing numbers of new EVs affordable for Americans at all income levels. And also investing in green ports infrastructure, to improve air quality in urban areas and especially in severely-impacted neighborhoods.

  • Investing in Housing to Build Green, Just and Vibrant Communities – Working families face a rising crisis of housing affordability. According to HUD, nearly half of all renters currently spend greater than 30% of their income on housing – straining their ability to pay for other basic necessities. Solutions to the climate crisis and the housing affordability crisis go hand in hand; good housing policy is good climate policy. The Inslee Administration will thoughtfully invest in affordable housing stock and support sustainable construction and community infrastructure, while accounting for historic government practices that have systematically marginalized low-income people and communities of color, to ensure new investment is aimed at avoiding displacement and gentrification. More than 50 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the effects of redlining are still deeply entrenched in our communities. Homeownership is how most Americans accumulate wealth; middle-class families rely on home equity to send their children to college and pay for retirement. Historical barriers prohibiting communities of color from owning property has created a vast, persistent, racial wealth gap in our country. The Inslee Administration will prioritize housing investment in the creation of more green, smart and sustainable communities, without displacement, and will work closely with local officials and community leaders around the country to implement effective affordable housing preservation and home ownership strategies that build neighborhood stability.
    • Expanding Home Ownership to Anchor Communities and Form Wealth: To improve pathways into homeownership, an Inslee Administration will expand the availability of low-interest mortgage loans through the Federal Housing Agency (FHA), and expand Tenant-Option-to-Purchase protections that enable low-income renters to become homeowners and small business owners to buy their building, all the while ensuring strong renter legal protections and oversight. Inslee will also use targeted federal tax policy to create greater protections to safeguard low-income, first-time homeowners from property tax increases with rising values due to gentrification. Establishing such a policy framework will allow income-qualified homeowners in at-risk neighborhoods, as identified in Equity Impact Mapping, to defer payment of property tax increases until the point of sale. Setting long-term residents on a path to homeownership and keeping ownership affordable allows communities to enjoy the benefits of rising property values without increasing fears of displacement. Key policy measures include: 
      • Working with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Community Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to lower borrowing costs and reform credit underwriting criteria, to expand access to capital for low income and working families.
      • Expanding the National Housing Trust Fund and ensuring support for down payment assistance or first-time low-income homebuyers.
      • Establishing a tax credit for rent-burdened families and facilitating allocation of credits toward down-payment on a home.
      • Improving Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) oversight to ensure increased lending for communities of need, especially where indicated through Equity Impact Mapping, and for enhanced climate resilience. 
      • Establishing a National Housing Stabilization Fund, to protect families against housing insecurity and provide an improved safety net to protect against foreclosure risk.
      • Including retrofits for housing upgrades within eligible costs for qualifying individuals under the national Long-Term Care Benefit that Inslee has proposed, modeled on the long-term care law he signed in Washington state.
  • Preservation and New Construction of Affordable Rental Housing: There is an absolute shortfall of 7 million affordable rental homes in the market today with only 4 homes available for every 10 families in need of safe and affordable housing. Market forces alone will never provide enough inventory to meet this need, especially at prices that are affordable to the very low income; government policy and direct public investment are required. Yet, total federal spending on new construction and maintenance for public housing has plummeted dramatically over the past two decades. A bold effort to reinvest in the fabric of communities for sustainability, upgrading and constructing new green and high-performance homes and rental housing, and substantial new investments in climate resilience within the built environment are also urgently needed. Key mechanisms for funding and facilitating these investments include the following policy measures:
    • Increasing funding for the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and CDFI Fund by at least $42 billion annually to support construction, preservation, and rehabilitation of affordable housing through grants to the states and community based organizations, with $5 billion of HTF funds specifically dedicated to upgrades and improvements to local public housing. Utilization of these funds would be tied to meeting the highest standards of energy efficiency and climate resilience. 
    • Enhancing existing incentives for private affordable housing, including expanding the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program by at least $5 billion per year, increasing per-capita allocations and establishing new bonus incentives for affordability commitments that extend beyond the required 15 year LIHTC compliance period, as well as for projects established near employment and transportation centers to achieve Transit Oriented Development goals and for projects that adopt aggressive green building, zero-carbon, and climate resilience goals as part of new construction or rehabilitation. Bonus incentives should also be established tied to communities of need identified through the Equity Impact Mapping program.
    • Expanding additional sources of funding available for affordable housing through increasing state and local tax exempt Private Activity Bond (PAB) capacity to incentivize new construction and rehabilitation of existing building stock and expanding the use of Medicaid to share costs of supportive housing services for qualifying families, as called for in Inslee’s Putting Families First Plan. 
    • Establishing a Refundable Tax Credit for rent-burdened families, reimbursing the portion of rent payments that exceed 30% of household income, for families making less than the average median income. These funds could also be used for home down-payment. 
    • Ensuring that Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are fully funded to support all renters making below 50% of average median income. Currently fewer than 25% of eligible renters get the vouchers they are entitled to receive.
    • Increasing funding for housing affordability on Tribal lands through increased funding for the Indian Housing Block Grant, Indian Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and other programs that fund facilities and affordable housing.
  • Preventing Homelessness & Displacement in the Face of Gentrification: Given the growing crisis of housing affordability, and alongside renewed investment in dense urban environments and economic growth, it is increasingly urgent to build stronger protections against gentrification and displacement as we rebuild and restore affected communities. When Governor Inslee visited Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood – a low income community rich in cultural heritage and home to many Haitian immigrants – he heard from community members about climate gentrification. Local developers have aggressively attempted to buy up land and move into Little Haiti’s higher ground, as sea level rise threatens Miami’s historically highest value property: the beach. To protect low-income people from eviction and homelessness, Governor Inslee will pursue the following measures that increase access to capital and provide stronger framework of rights.
    • Establishing a “National Housing Stabilization Fund,” building on a successful track record in the states, to offer temporary rental support and financial assistance to families facing economic dislocation or short-term financial challenges due to lost wages, bills for medical care, transportation, and child care. This fund will provide a range of supportive services that help stabilize vulnerable working families during challenging financial times. 
    • Analyzing CRA guidelines to anticipate and avoid displacement in gentrifying areas, and how non-bank lenders, which do not fall under CRA jurisdiction but make up more than half of all home loans in some communities, can be brought into alignment with the law’s goals. 
    • Improving enforcement of existing fair housing laws, and putting in place new and stronger legal protections for tenants from housing discrimination based on income source (to protect recipients of Section 8 Vouchers), housing status (to provide legal support for the homeless), and gender identity and sexual orientation (to expand protection against descrimination and exclusion). 
    • Guaranteeing a tenants’ rights to legal counsel when facing eviction, working through HUD, DOJ, and CFPB and in collaboration with states and cities, to ensure effective legal representation. Improve use of rent stabilization, and require demonstration of just cause in the event of eviction to further minimize displacement for low income renters.
    • Establishing clear metrics in Equity Impact Mapping for communities of high poverty and communities at heightened risk of gentrification, to establish additional targeted incentives for rental assistance and affordable housing stabilization, and utilizing Local Small Area Market Rents designations to track finely grained neighborhood impacts.
  • Promoting Urban Density, and Transit Oriented Development: Proximity of home to work and local services, increased transit options, and greater walkability all make for less energy-intensive, as well as healthier and more livable communities. However, too often local regulations and exclusionary land use practices stand in the way of improving urban form and realizing the associated environmental and quality of life benefits. The Inslee Administration will work with local and state leaders to create strong federal incentives to lift restrictive local zoning measures that limit density and new affordable housing construction, and instead work with cities and states to foster increased housing density, while protecting against gentrification and displacement. Key policies to help reach this goal will include:
    • Establishing financial incentives for harmonization of local zoning rules with inclusionary zoning practices, climate resilience objectives, transit-oriented development, mixed use zoning, workforce housing preservation, and enhanced asset mapping and infrastructure planning to promote urban density.
    • Providing new requirements and bonus funding allocations for communities implementing best practices in inclusionary zoning and connecting housing with transit service, in new USDOT performance rules for life-cycle climate pollution analysis in transportation, HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding allocation and prioritization, and USDA Rural Development funding, and within all aspects of Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plans for local infrastructure reinvestment. 
    • Screening for targeted communities of critical need, through Equity Impact Mapping and the Equity Screen, that will be further identified and prioritized within federal budget processes and rulemaking to undo the damage of past disinvestment, and target investment on stabilizing existing residents without gentrification and generating new community wealth.
  • Broadening Access to Investment and Markets in Marginalized Communities – Just as exclusion from banking services was at the root of redlining in home ownership that precipitated disinvestment from neighborhoods, likewise small, minority- and women-owned businesses have also been hurt by the lack of access to sufficient capital to grow and organically meet the needs of their local communities. Inslee’s Community Climate Justice plan addresses these disparities by investing in community-based businesses and projects. These drivers of community wealth formation and new business development will include generating new cost savings to extend the budgets of working families, increase capital availability for small businesses, expand access to markets and procurement opportunities, and support new business models that embrace local participation in economic benefits and even direct employee- or community-ownership.
    • Broadening Access to Capital for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs in Communities of Color: Access to credit and capital is a persistent challenge for many small businesses owned by and located in communities of color – exposing them to predatory lending practices, driving disparities in economic growth, and contributing to income inequality. Governor Inslee’s plan to invest in a clean energy future will expand existing federal lending programs to meet deferred investment needs in ways that build community wealth and capitalize small and minority owned businesses. Similarly, the creation of a federal Green Bank – which Governor Inslee has proposed as a Clean Energy Development Authority, or “CEDA” – offers a critical new tool for broadening capital availability for building upgrades, remediation projects, new infrastructure, or business incubation, all with direct climate and environmental benefits. These financing programs will be maximized in driving capital into marginalized and front-line communities. Including by:
      • Capitalizing a federal reserve fund for utility on-bill investment portfolios for all cost-effective energy solutions for all households and small businesses, creating local jobs and capitalizing the upgrades without causing participating customers to take out loans or add to their existing debt burden.
      • Requiring the CEDA to prioritize investment in women and minority-owned businesses, and to target 40% of its investment benefitting disadvantaged communities.
      • Targeting Small Business Administration (SBA) lending programs for funding working capital needs of entrepreneurs, like the 7(a) Loan Program, to increase direct business investment. 
      • Directing the SBA Certified Development Company (CDC) 504 program to provide direct investment into green and climate remediation projects facilitating wealth formation and project ownership at the community level. This program can be dramatically expanded and will be focused on environmental justice and meeting local needs. 
      • Doubling the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund that underpins the nation’s network of CDFIs. This will include a new Clean Community Grant Program, with significant targeting of that expansion at communities identified through “Equity Impact Mapping” of economic and environmental justice hotspots. 
      • Increasing funding for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the Economic Development Agency (EDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce to serve as powerful engines of new public investment and capital availability for local communities and small businesses within communities of color and historically under-invested neighborhoods.
  • Access to New Markets for Small, Women and Minority-Owned Businesses: Public procurement represents a major engine of investment in green businesses and deployment of climate solutions through increasing the demand for sustainable energy, green products, and more efficient management services. Historically, too little has been done to harness the power of this public spending to meet other public purposes that advance environmental sustainability and link to community based social justice. Raising procurement standards for green products — from recycled paper to renewable energy — has been essential for priming scaled demand for these emerging clean industries. These investments include everything from advanced infrastructure, to green electricity, to building energy efficiency in schools and public buildings and they could service as major engines of local investment and a driver for business formation and growth. Smart policies include:
    • Expanding green federal procurement from small businesses and ensuring that federal procurement contracts prioritize to women- and minority-owned businesses. Providing direct federal engagement and education of contractors – especially in disadvantaged communities – especially in light of fast-changing and aggressive new federal standards to be understood and implemented.
    • Strengthening federal procurement standards for local hiring, utilization of women, minority and veteran owned businesses, and domestic manufacturing can help steer the trillions of dollars required for climate reconstruction toward quality job creation and local empowerment. 
    • Promoting Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) and Project Labor Agreements (PLA), as called for in Governor Inslee’s 100% Clean Energy for America and Evergreen Economy plans, to ensure that competition for public investment is not done on the backs of working people by driving down wages and benefits to achieve least cost bids, but rather that procurement processes compete on the basis of added public value by promoting the expansion of a unionized workforce and provide jobs with family supporting wages and benefits

Supporting Working Families & Empowering Local Leadership for a Just Transition

Economic transition can be truly just only if working families are involved in building community led solutions, and if public resources ensure that individual working families, regions, or industries do not carry the full cost and risk of building a sustainable and prosperous future that benefits all of society. Investing in new economic opportunities, maintaining health and benefit security and other social supports for impacted working families, and providing access to training, education, and stable employment will all allow these families to thrive in every community on the front-lines of the transition from a fossil fuel economy to a clean energy economy. Meaningful public investments will be important for achieving this just transition in many industries, especially within vulnerable fenceline communities across the nation. At the same time, with inaction and failure in Washington, D.C., local governments, Tribal nations and communities throughout the United States have taken action to protect themselves from fossil fuel corporations and pollution. This local leadership must be respected, and supported, and through it America can accelerate the transition to a new energy future. Governor Inslee has proposed a robust plan for supporting a just transition for all workers and communities throughout the country, and empowering more local action to build our clean energy future.

  • Providing Support for Workers & Communities in Economic Transition – Governor Inslee is committed to ensuring that every American working family and community is included, and none are left behind, as the U.S. transitions off of fossil fuels and builds a 21st century clean energy economy. This commitment comes with the sincere recognition that this economic transformation will require changes in many communities that have come to rely upon fossil fuel production, transportation, or combustion, for employment, tax base, and economy. Therefore, this plan lays out a suite of funding mechanisms and program support that are targeted to the particular needs of workers, energy consumers, and key regions and industries as the country anticipates not only this new wave of investment and innovation, but also any transitional impacts that may result
    • Universal Clean Energy Service Fund & HUD Energy Assistance: Inslee will create a new Universal Clean Energy Service Fund (UCESF) to ensure Americans of all income levels enjoy the full benefits of clean and reliable power as the U.S. shifts to 100% clean electricity, through direct energy bill reductions for qualifying families. The UCESF will be modeled on the Universal Service Fund created to promote universal access to telecommunications services. Today the “energy burden” for American families – the percent of household income spent on energy bills – is more than triple as much for low-income households as it is for middle- and high-income households. One in 5 households in America have had to reduce or forgo food, medicine and other necessities to pay an energy bill. As the U.S. launches a massive investment in renewable energy, smart grid, transmission infrastructure, and accelerates the retirement of polluting power plants, the UCESF program will ensure access and connectivity to this new infrastructure for working families in a way that creates economic savings and empowers them to spend more of family budgets on other needs, such as health and childcare. Many states have similar public benefits funds today, to prevent utility shut-offs or minimize ratepayer impacts for low-income, elderly or other vulnerable groups, including energy-intensive small businesses and to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment. This new program will enhance and buttress these existing measures, and will not duplicate efforts or impede their function. 
      • Using the UCESF to reduce monthly electricity costs for qualifying families, to ensure every American has access to affordable and climate pollution-free electricity.
      • Integrating the UCESF with the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the current primary federal vehicle for helping low-income families pay their energy bills for home heating in order to provide a seamless one-stop access to support for low-income families. LIHEAP funding has been severely reduced and is only currently sufficient to fund one out of five eligible households. The fund will also be integrated with the ReBuild America initiative, to ensure that funding for direct payments for energy bills are linked to efforts to fund building energy retrofits to provide ratepayers with lower home energy costs over time.
      • Partnering with existing state programs, and working with states, NGOs, and utilities to promote enrollment in the UCESF, and to enable community ownership of clean distributed energy systems, such as community solar, to deliver the full benefits of clean energy to low-income renters. These state programs include the requirement under Washington state’s 100% clean electricity law that utilities make “energy assistance” available to low-income households, for power bill reductions, building energy retrofits, and also distributed energy resources like solar. 
      • Directing HUD to develop utility reimbursement incentives and calculation of rental assistance funding that provides strong incentives for affordable housing developers and Public Housing Authorities to pursue strong energy efficiency and clean energy measures, while overcoming split incentives from the federal recapture of locally achieved energy savings at the property level. This will help to modernize affordable housing by rationalizing incentives for building owners and property managers to invest in cost-saving building retrofits that improve living conditions, green energy use, the environmental impact of buildings, and permanently lowering bills for tenants and homeowners.
    • “GI Bill” for Energy Workers and Families: Just as America cared for its returning heroes following their defeat of fascism in World War II, so now the U.S. must commit to supporting energy workers who are facing ongoing displacement as the world accelerates its shift off of fossil fuel energy and onto cleaner alternatives. Unfortunately, predatory fossil fuel executives, and politicians seeking campaign contributions, have refused to recognize this necessary transition — or worse, are milking their last millions from industries like coal before they declare bankruptcy and abandon their workers and pension obligations as they sail off into retirement. In his Evergreen Economy Plan, Governor Inslee has proposed a “GI Bill” for impacted energy workers. 
      • Providing energy workers, their families, and their communities with financial security by shoring up retirement benefits through federal backstops to the troubled national pension guarantee system. 
      • Protecting workers’ health care coverage — including protecting the United Mineworkers Association (UMWA) Health and Retirement Funds that continue to support 87,000 Americans; backstopping the solvency of the Black Lung Liability Trust Fund that holds $6 billion in debt; and by granting qualifying employees and families continued access to their historic health insurance, or new coverage through federal policies to achieve universal and affordable health care, as outlined in Inslee’s Putting Families First Plan. 
      • Further providing income replacement and support for educational and worker training stipends for workers seeking to move into new or related professions, as well as assistance with dependent care, mortgage and other debt relief, transportation costs, and other areas of economic pressure for workers in transition. 
      • Ensuring eligibility for all employees and contractors of companies directly involved in the extraction and processing of fossil fuels. Working with and running programs through local unions that have the relationships and the training expertise to quickly support workers as they transition to future employment. And, supporting local government budgets impacted by changes in tax revenue due to community level transitional impacts, as well as providing support for local business lines of credit, to support local small business. 
      • Creating a “Re-Power Fund” to invest in “re-development corridors” and vibrant economic diversification in communities that were formerly dependent on fossil fuel infrastructure or extraction. Investments could include small business development – including advanced manufacturing and clean energy, infrastructure improvements, and supporting the local government tax base. And this program will ensure that new job creation is centered on growing, high wage and high value-added industries that draw on the existing skills of workers and strong local supply chains. 
      • Establishing a dedicated “Restoration Fund” to create new skilled union jobs in environmental remediation and construction - cleaning up the sites polluted by fossil fuel companies throughout the country, and especially in low-income and disadvantaged communities. This program will hire local workers, and will supplement, and not replace, existing resources like the Abandoned Mine Fund. Jobs for reclamation and restoration will be required to pay prevailing wages and to allow workers the opportunity to organize. The opportunities available through the Restoration Fund involved projects will last for years, and would be available to fossil fuel employees in addition to other “G.I. Bill” training programs that allow workers remain fully employed.
    • Education and Skills Training for Careers in the Clean Energy Future: In order to ensure widespread opportunity and access to good careers in America’s burgeoning clean energy economy, Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy and education policy plans call for increasing support for STEM education, education-employer partnerships, as well as workforce development and training. This includes a dedicated focus on ensuring these education and training opportunities, and the career opportunities that follow them, include Americans of all communities. These efforts include:
      • Funding for STEM, climate and sustainability education, career pathways, student loan debt-forgiveness, and education-employer partnerships throughout K-12 and in community colleges, universities, and throughout higher education. With particular emphasis on Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other “minority-serving institutions.
      • Ensuring coordination of federal agency resources to link the growth of clean energy sectors to investments in job training, job placement, and strong career ladders to allow for professional advancement  – in partnership with America’s labor unions. Strengthening school-to-work pipelines through greater support and promotion of registered apprenticeships, technical and trade-skill certification programs, and community and technical colleges. And establishing dedicated programs for green industrial and construction job training and placement under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act.
      • Partnering with union experts and federally funded workforce providers to create labor-management training and certificate programs that improve worker safety, expand worker skills, and allow for and protect opportunities for workers to join unions. Linking apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training commitments to public investments in clean energy infrastructure, and using apprenticeship utilization requirements.
      • Supporting clean energy education and workforce training programs for previously disenfranchised persons to gain access to good-paying jobs in the new energy economy, in partnerships with 2-year and certificate-granting institutions and community organizations.
      • Establishing a Climate Conservation Corps (“Climate Corps”) to provide young Americans with service opportunities building climate solutions at home and abroad, and providing Americans of all ages with access to employment and skills training opportunities in the growing clean energy future.
  • Empowering Local Authority and Community Action – Amidst federal inaction, states, Tribal nations, cities and local communities have been America’s climate leaders, and are actively accelerating their progress to confront the crises of climate change. Governor Inslee’s Climate Mission agenda is built upon supporting, scaling, and accelerating their local success. As communities pursue local solutions to build a just transition off of fossil fuels into a clean energy economy, the Inslee Administration is committed to removing federal barriers to progress and to supporting local action - led by local leaders and local voices speaking for themselves.
    • Supporting Local Action against Pollution & Fossil Fuels: The burdens of air pollution fall disproportionately upon communities of color and low-income communities, with children being the greatest at-risk.  Governor Inslee’s “100% Clean Energy for America” Plan lays out aggressive but achievable time frames for switching to 100% climate pollution-free electricity and new vehicles, buses and buildings.  This Community Climate Justice plan empowers local communities to transition faster to eliminate stationary and mobile sources of air pollution. Many communities have made tremendous progress against local sources of climate pollution, and other communities have organized but had their progress blocked by special interests in the courts or in Washington, D.C. Governor Inslee’s Community Climate Justice plan will help communities take action to protect themselves from pollution by:
      • Supporting local jurisdictions in enacting bans on new gas infrastructure in buildings with technical assistance and new federal incentives. This will accelerate the transition to zero-carbon buildings at the scale and speed required to reach 100% of new buildings in the coming decade. In July 2019, the City of Berkley, California became the first in the nation to ban gas infrastructure in new building construction, with others now looking to follow suit. Also using the “ReBuild America” initiative proposed by Governor Inslee to retrofit every existing building for energy and electrification over the coming years, starting in low-income communities. 
      • Working with Congress to pass legislation to empower local governments to ban the use of federal eminent domain for fossil fuel infrastructure projects or the consumption of specific fossil fuel products, such as high-carbon transportation fuels, in their jurisdictions, and to offer federal technical assistance in the development and implementation of such policies. 
      • Partnering with and incentivizing local jurisdictions to achieve early retirement of coal-fired power plants, as Washington state is doing with all coal power by 2025, under Gov. Inslee’s leadership. Inslee’s 100% Clean Energy for America Plan calls for retiring all coal plants in the United States in the coming decade. 
      • Reversing Trump Administration actions, including under the Clean Water Act, that undermine state and local authority to reject fossil fuel infrastructure projects, as called for under Inslee’s Freedom from Fossil Fuels Plan.
    • Honoring Government-to-Government Relationship with Tribal Nations: The Inslee Administration is committed to respecting Tribal nations’ rights in the decisions that concern their governments, people and historical lands, and will respect the rights and sovereignty of Indigenous nations. Sovereignty as the inherent authority to self-governance, which has been affirmed by hundreds of treaties as well as the Supreme Court, President, and Congress. The Inslee Administration intends to reflect this commitment to respecting Tribal Nations by, among other things:
      • Directing the White House Council on Environmental Justice (CEJ) to lead in ensuring that all federal agencies engage with Tribal nations with thorough, inclusive, transparent and meaningful consultation, and a recognition of the sovereignty and self-determination of America’s Indigenous peoples.
      • Establishing a federal commission to study the U.S. Government’s treaty obligations to Tribal nations and to make recommendations on policies and government structures to meet those obligations. And re-establishing the annual White House Tribal Nations conference first convened under President Barack Obama.
      • Committing federal agencies to prioritize the expansion of Tribal sovereignty and investment in Tribal communities, including ensuring Tribal nations have parity in access to resources and programs implemented through the Evergreen Economy Plan and throughout Governor Inslee’s Climate Mission Agenda.
      • Directing federal agencies to fully empower Tribal nations, through free, prior and informed consent, to reject fossil fuel infrastructure proposals and to engage with them in joint control and protection of their lands, waters, territories and resources. 
      • Wherever possible, to return treaty, former reservation and public lands to tribal trust status, to empower Tribes to take a leading role in environmental stewardship as well as land and oceans management, and to build on successful co-management models of public lands and parks in the United States, such as Badlands and Glacier National Parks.