Pulse of the Peninsula: Hillary Clinton deserves praise on climate

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Some 10,000 people from across the country gathered at Philadelphia’s City Hall for a Climate Revolution March, demanding a national ban on fracking, an end to the exploitation and destruction of people and the environment because of the extraction, distribution and burning of toxic fossil fuels by greedy corporations aided and abetted by government .policy

They looked and sounded like a Bernie Sanders rally — indeed, huge numbers still wore their Bernie T-shirts, buttons, stickers and carried banners and signs. In contrast, there was not a single pro-Hillary button or T-shirt that I could find. More worrisome were the marchers who said they would be okay if their protest vote resulted in Donald Trump becoming president, because even though he contradicts everything they stand for, his election would lead — they believe — to a real revolution filling the streets that would restore a government of the people. 

That is pure fantasy because what is more likely with a Donald Trump as president, the self-proclaimed “law and order candidate” who has expressed his admiration for dictators, tyrants and strongmen including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Erdogan who has put down a coup by arresting 50,000 soldiers, judges and teachers, what it would lead to is a police state here in the USA. 

Trump, meanwhile, has declared his intention to drill baby drill, retract Obama’s climate actions, pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and make the U.S. a major exporter of oil and gas, would ignite the fuse for the climate crisis catastrophe.

But I frankly do not understand the reaction against Hillary Clinton, except that it demonstrates the power of decades of propaganda and branding by an anti-Clinton forces.

They accuse Hillary (even using the same “lock her up” language) of being in the pocket of big business and banks (and why shouldn’t they believe that, since that is what Bernie Sanders has been saying throughout his campaign). 

One marcher I talk to accuses the Clinton Global Initiative of “money laundering” but when I ask for an example, he screams about Hillary being responsible for the “three-strikes” sentencing law.

What is more accurate is that ever since the very beginning of the Clinton Global Initiative — 15 years ago — they embraced climate action and sustainability (remember that Al Gore was Clinton’s vice president), creating new mechanisms to bring together big business *(who had the power, resources and means), with money (philanthropists, banks and corporations) with local government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). 

They ran the first CGI with an eye to reducing carbon emissions and introduced everyone to the idea of using carbon credits to offset.

Over the years, hundreds of billions of dollars have been raised and funneled into projects that have brought solar power to villages that had no electricity, clean water to villages experiencing drought, disease and violence for lack of it. 

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s commitment on behalf of the USA was to provide funding for cook stoves in Africa — something that would not only cut down toxic emissions but resulting in needless death of women. 

The very contacts with businesses that are abhorred by the Sanders progressives (the same as the Occupy Wall Street radicals) actually lead to real, constructive, implemented projects. We may hate Walmart but they were convinced to establish a sustainability officer who made company-wide changes, such as reducing the size of packaging which results in thousands fewer trucks on the roads; Goldman Sachs invented a new bond in order to fund restoration of coral reefs; Proctor & Gamble came up with a packet that turns polluted water into drinkable water. 

This is just a tiny list. The engagement with CGI has changed corporate culture around the world in significant, material ways that actually improved lives.

The mechanism that CGI created came about during the George W. Bush era when the US was pulling back on foreign aid (no aid to any country which had legal abortion), or any investment in infrastructure, in clean energy. CGI was a major force for good.

With Republicans still in control of purse strings, the Obama Administration has used the same formula — creating collaborations between private enterprise, local and state government and local agencies close to the communities and the problems, in order to create sustainable development. 

Just last week, Obama Administraton issued a huge list of projects that will make solar panels more accessible. 

Consider the practical reality: President Obama has been trying throughout his presidency to implement climate actions to mitigate, stem and reverse the worst impacts of climate change. He has been obstructed at every step. 

The Republicans have sued to stop his bold Clean Energy Plan, have attempted to impeach the head of the EPA, have cut off funding for the EPA, for science research, have sought to eliminate tax credits for renewables.

Sanders has been in Congress all this time. He has been unable to through anything on the scale of a “ban fracking” order. 

He would not be more successful as president. He can’t point to the list of true climate action or sustainable development initiatives that the Clintons can.

Here is what would be a more reasonable, do-able plan that a President Clinton could accomplish: remove the tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, introduce regulations that bar frackers from using groundwater, but rather only use treated water that they would have to pipe from treatment plants; require frackers to disclose the chemicals they are injecting and to clean up any toxicity; impose a carbon tax. 

Remove any state law that prevents localities from instituting their own bans (as Texas has done). Remove the law that makes oil and gas industry immune from liability. That’s just for starters. 

In this way, the economic advantages that have been given to fossil fuel industry would be eliminated; clean, renewables (not nuclear) would be able to compete. Indeed, the oil and gas industry could fund its own clean energy revolution from the hoards of cash it has amassed.

By Karen Rubin

1 COMMENT

  1. The idiocy of this opinion piece is too far gone to even comment on. It lacks any science literacy, and reeks of a political ideology and hatred of President Trump. Advice to the author, if you want to influence people try making some sense and not insulting those you disagree with.

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