The campaign of Bernie Sanders scored a major coup Saturday, earning the first endorsement of any candidate by a national environmental group, Friends of the Earth.
Granted, the field is limited to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, given that no living Republican candidate will ever earn the endorsement of any environmental group, local, state, or national. But with the narrowing gap between Clinton and Sanders, this endorsement is no small thing.
Donald Trump, of course, currently the leading Republican candidate, announced back in January of 2014 that “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”
Now, with 2014 behind us, the studies are in, and according to NOAA, 2014 was the warmest year on record:
— Reporting Climate (@Reportingclimat) August 1, 2015
The Sanders campaign released a statement from Concord, New Hampshire:
“I am very honored to receive the endorsement of one of the great environmental organizations not only in America but in the world,” Sanders said at the news conference at a park here along the banks of the Merrimack River.
The endorsement was announced by Michael Herz, a former chairman and current Friends of the Earth board member. Erich Pica, the president of Friends of the Earth Action, said in a statement that the endorsement means his group’s 2 million activists will promote Sanders’ bid to become the Democratic Party nominee for president.
“He has proven himself a bold and fearless voice for the planet,” Pica said of Sanders in a prepared statement. “Sen. Sanders’ bold ideas and real solutions to addressing climate change, inequality and promoting a transformative economy that prioritizes public health and the environment over corporate profits, have earned him an enthusiastic endorsement from Friends of the Earth Action.”
In the audience at the news conference was Jerry Curran, the chairman of the New Hampshire chapter of the Sierra Club. Another leading environmentalist and best-selling author, Bill McKibben, took part in the May 26 kickoff of Sanders’ presidential campaign at a Lake Champlain shoreline park in Burlington, Vermont.
In accepting the Friends of the Earth endorsement, Sanders focused on the most serious environmental issue confronting the planet: global warming. “We need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into sustainable energy,” Sanders said.
The endorsement capped a week during which Sanders welcomed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s support for solar power and energy efficiency, but questioned her refusal to take a stand on construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean.
“If you’re concerned about climate change, say no to the Keystone XL pipeline,” Sanders said at the news conference. He said the pipeline would ship some of the dirtiest oil on the planet from Canada’s tar sands region across the United States to refineries in Texas.
Sanders’ clear stand on the pipeline was among the factors Friends of the Earth cited in its endorsement.
Sanders said he would tax emissions from burning oil and coal to discourage the use of fossil fuels responsible for climate change. He has proposed eliminating $135 billion in tax breaks for fossil fuel companies which turn enormous profits. He introduced legislation Congress passed to create an energy efficiency block grant program. His measure was folded into a broader energy bill that Congress passed in 2007. He later secured $3.2 billion for the initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. And his 10 Million Solar Roofs Act would make solar power more affordable and make it simpler for homeowners and businesses to get local permits.
The environment gets far too little attention. Republicans don’t care about it. Ann Coulter, for example, echoing what many Republicans seem to believe, says immigration is the important issue, not the fact that sea levels are rising along with global temperatures, year after year.
It is important that going forward, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders address this important issue, because it is the only issue being talked about in this campaign cycle that affects every living person on this planet. And without a habitable planet, all other issues, no matter how dear to your heart, become non-issues.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.