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Democrat Inslee tries to separate from pack with campaign climate plan

Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON, May 3 (Reuters) - Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Friday outlined a plan to achieve 100% clean electricity, zero-emission new vehicles and zero-carbon buildings and retire the U.S. coal power plant fleet by 2030, aiming to position himself as the most aggressive Democratic candidate on climate change.

Inslee, who has focused his 2020 presidential bid on combating climate change, laid out his ambitious platform on Friday just days after campaign rival Beto O'Rourke unveiled his own climate policy, which calls for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Inslee said he modeled his plan after some of the policies he has implemented as governor of Washington state. He described it as a 10-year mobilization to take on an urgent crisis.

"We can and must build an economy free from fossil fuels, and that is what I'm proposing today," Inslee said in a statement.

The plan would begin with a series of executive actions that would set aggressive targets to achieve in 2030. Inslee said he would implement the steps from his first day in office.

The targets include requiring all new light and medium duty vehicles and buses and all commercial and residential buildings to be zero-emission.

By 2035, Inslee said electricity generation would be sourced entirely from renewable and zero emission sources.

This would include the retirement of the U.S. coal fleet by 2030, similar to the policy he implemented in Washington state. Large renewable energy projects would be deployed on federal lands.

The plan reflects many principles of the Green New Deal, a bold set of policy goals introduced by congressional Democrats and pushed for by youth activists. The goal is to transform the U.S. energy economy to 100 percent renewable sources by 2030 with a boost from federal investments modern infrastructure and green job programs.

Green New Deal activists and authors on Friday embraced Inslee's proposal, and were more wary of the proposal O'Rourke unveiled earlier in the week.

Inslee's plan "rightly acknowledges the scale and urgency of the climate crisis and puts forth aggressive sector specific targets and implementation mechanisms to meet it, including the plainly stated commitment to end the era of coal," said Greg Carlock, an author who works for think tank Data for Progress.

Most of the Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, have embraced some goals of the Green New Deal. Republicans have attacked the plan, calling it unfeasible. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by David Gregorio)