Fearing Trump, Greens Run To Clinton
Since securing the delegates need to win the nomination, Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by a number of environmental groups fearing Trump’s promise to “tear up” a global climate agreement.
“Secretary Clinton has a long record on the environment and is the leader we need to build on this progress made by President Obama and the climate movement,” Michael Brune of the Sierra Club said.
“She has listened to the grassroots and crafted detailed plans to safeguard our climate, air, water, and public lands, to protect the most vulnerable from environmental injustice, and to continue the rapid expansion of our clean energy economy.”
“Contrasted with that, we have a reckless and misinformed candidate in Donald Trump, who has called climate change a ‘hoax,’ a ‘con job,’ and a ‘concept created by the Chinese,” he added.
From the Hill:
Tom Steyer, who heads NextGen Climate and has donated tens of millions of dollars to Democrats who want to fight climate change, had a similar take.
“Now is the time to come together to defeat Donald Trump, who is utterly unfit to be our next president,” Steyer said. “Trump’s racist rhetoric is directly offensive to our American values and his dangerous actions would threaten our children’s future in every way.”
Adam Rome, a professor of environmental history at the University of Delaware, said greens are mobilizing like never before because they see such high stakes in this election.
“I think Trump really scares environmentalists. I can see that environmentalists would want to do everything possible to ensure that he’s not president,” Rome said.
The key concern for greens, Rome said, is preserving Obama initiatives like the Clean Power Plan that were achieved through executive authority and can largely be undone in the same way.
“Congress might still be divided or unfriendly, so executive action is really the only thing the federal government has been able to do and will be able to do on climate, barring a really big change,” Rome said.
Republicans argue Clinton’s emphasis on environmental issues over energy production will be a liability in the general election.
Core News, a project of the conservative group America Rising Squared, has lambasted Clinton’s green group endorsements.
“Brune forgot to mention the Sierra Club’s extreme plans to end American oil and gas production,” the group wrote about that endorsement.
It pointed out that some labor unions objected to Steyer’s alliance with the AFL-CIO, saying he sparked a “civil war” within the Democratic Party.
“Steyer and Clinton may be a good fit, though, given both have flip-flopped on energy over the years,” it said.
As for NRDC, Core News cited a GOP report saying the group had “unprecedented access” to Obama administration regulators, and played up her “dogfight” with Sanders over greens.
There’s no doubt that the power of environmentalists in the Democratic Party is on the rise, in part due to the large amounts of money they are pumping into campaigns.
Daniel J. Weiss, a principal at Waxman Strategies and a veteran of numerous environmental and progressive groups, said that while it’s little surprise that green advocates would line up behind the Democrat, they have been more strategic with their endorsements this year.
For example, NRDC Action’s announcement came a week before the California primary. Clinton won the state, which has a strong presence of environmentalists, by more than 10 points.
“Most environmental organizations with election programs did not make presidential endorsements until there was a nominee apparent. This cycle was different,” Weiss said.
“Three organizations made early endorsements this cycle to have an impact during the primaries. This approach demonstrates that these organizations have a higher level of political sophistication,” he said.
The last major environmental holdout for Clinton is Friends of the Earth Action, which says it remains in the Sanders camp.
“There are a lot of things to fight for,” said Erich Pica, president of the group. “There’s the platform, and there’s making sure that Secretary Clinton embraces on the campaign trail what has really excited Friends of the Earth Action and many of our supporters,” he said, noting that District of Columbia voters will still cast their ballots on Tuesday.
Pica said the organization hasn’t closed the door on a potential Clinton endorsement, and it is paying close attention to Sanders for its next moves.
But many of Friends of the Earth Action’s early issues with Clinton still remain, like her support for hydraulic fracturing, her lack of support for a carbon tax and a general feeling that she does not take a strong enough stand against fossil fuels.
“What is absolutely certain is that we will do everything we can to make sure that Donald Trump is not president,” Pica said. “He is an existential threat to many things, including helping to solve climate change.”