The move from O’Malley comes as he tries to gain a foothold in a Democratic primary contest in which Hillary Rodham Clinton has established herself as a formidable front-runner and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been making more headway with more liberal voters.
In his white paper, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, O’Malley argues that a full embrace of clean energy presents the biggest job creation opportunity the country as seen in a century.
Among other initiatives, O’Malley will call for expanding an Obama administration effort to regulate emissions from power plants to include other sources of greenhouse gases, such as cement and fertilizer plans and existing oil and gas wells.
O’Malley, who pushed a series of renewable-energy initiatives as governor, also calls for a halt in issuing new oil and gas drilling permits in Alaska and off the U.S. coasts -- a move that runs counter to recent Obama actions -- and he says he would end all taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels while extending production and investment tax credits for sources of renewable energy.
In the paper, O’Malley says he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt a “zero-tolerance” policy for methane leaks from oil and gas production and that he would reject projects like the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that he says exacerbate climate change.The latter is a veiled jab at Clinton, who has not stated a definitive position on the project.
O’Malley’s initiatives come as Pope Francis is expected to formally unveil on Thursday a highly anticipated and controversial papal encyclical on climate change. In recent days, several Catholic candidates in the Republican field, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, have questioned the pope’s involvement on the issue.
O’Malley’s document references Republican resistance on the issue, saying he would push many of his actions through executive action, starting on “day one,” if elected president.
Some of those actions include retrofitting federal buildings to higher energy-efficiency standards and new requirements for the federal automobile fleet. O’Malley says he would also establish a “Clean Energy Job Corps” with the aim of retrofitting buildings and creating new green spaces across the country.
More broadly, he says in the plan, that he would set a goal to make the country completely powered by clean energy within 35 years.
During his tenure as Maryland governor, O’Malley muscled through legislation to jump-start the state’s offshore wind power industry, pushed several initiatives to expand the use of solar energy and signed legislation adopting tougher vehicle emissions standards.