In a Morning Consult survey last month, Inslee ranked 21st among Democratic primary voters. He was below Bullock and another potential contender, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Inslee has openly discussed his interest in a White House run for many months and from the start focused on climate change. The Democrat has already visited key early states, including Iowa and New Hampshire.
"We have one chance to defeat climate change and it is right now," Inslee said Friday in remarks at a Seattle-area solar installation company where he made the White House bid official. "And it is my belief that when you have one chance in life, you take it."
Inslee added, "This is our moment together to create not just a transition but a just transition to bring justice to all communities, especially front line communities of color that have borne the brunt of climate change."
He pledged a national mission with several climate goals, including powering the economy using "100 percent clean, renewable and carbon-free energy" and achieving "net zero greenhouse gas pollution in the United States." He also set a goal "to create millions of good paying jobs in every community investing in clean energy," from building electric cars in Michigan and making and installing wind turbines in Iowa to installing more solar out West.
At the same time, Inslee vowed to end the practice of billions of dollar in subsidies going to fossil fuel industries.
"I have a message for the oil, coal and gas special interests: that gravy train is over," he said. "As a candidate, I will not take one dime from fossil fuel companies. When I am president, not one nickel of the taxpayer dollars will go to subsidize oil and gas."
But not everyone considers climate change a top priority issue, according to Pew Research Center.
A Pew survey conducted in January found only 44 percent view climate change as a top priority of President Donald Trump and Congress, ranking it second lowest after global trade (39 percent). By comparison, 70 percent of those surveyed felt the economy should rank top as a policy priority and 69 percent identified health care costs.