Hillary Clinton Announces 2016 Presidential Bid: Find Out Where She Stands on Climate
There's a cliche among those who are discouraged by the political climate that "there's no difference between the candidates." Now that Hillary Clinton has made her official, anticipated-for-years announcement that she will be running for president in 2016, making her the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, it's time to look at where she stands on environmental issues versus where the Republican field of millions—OK, dozens—stands.
The GOP field has two official candidates so far—senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. Florida Sen. Mario Rubio is expected to announce today. Numerous other hopefuls, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, are making moves, such as visits to key primary states like New Hampshire, that show they'd like to be in the race as well.
The only other clear likely candidate in the Democratic field is immediate past Gov. of Maryland Martin O'Malley, who is campaigning vigorously but has not announced his candidacy.
You're going to hear grumbling from some environmentalists about Hillary's lack of perfection. One particular sticking point is her failure to say where she stands on approving the Keystone XL pipeline. She told an audience in Winnipeg in January, "You won’t get me to talk about Keystone because I have steadily made clear that I’m not going to express an opinion. It is in our process and that’s where it belongs."
When she spoke to at the League of Conservation Voters' (LCV) annual dinner in December, much of the media coverage again centered on her failure to say anything about the Keystone XL pipeline. The Washington Post ran a piece saying "Her refusal to take a stand on Keystone has disappointed some of the loudest—and richest—environmental activists who view the project as a test of a candidate’s environmental bona fides."
But what about everything else? Taking a look at the full range of Hillary's positions on the environmental issues and comparing them with the positions and votes of the Republican field, it's clear that a climate voter—and the planet—can't afford the luxury of claiming they're all the same. Virtually every entrant into the GOP field is a climate denier to a great or lesser degree.
"The science of climate change is unforgiving no matter what the deniers may say," said Hillary at the LCV dinner. "Sea levels are raising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc, 13 of the top 14 warmest years in recorded history have happened since 2000, and this past summer scientists found levels of carbon diode in our atmosphere not seen in hundreds of thousands of years."
That's not a statement you're likely to hear from any of the GOP candidates. Take only the two announced candidates as examples. Cruz is a full-throated supporter of unlimited, unregulated fossil fuel exploration and extraction or, as he put it "remove the barriers to every form of energy." He has said there is no global warming and trotted out the debunked theory that there was "global cooling" in the ’70s. "The problem with climate change is there’s never been a day in the history of the world in which the climate is not changing,” he said. Rand Paul has said that the science behind climate change is "not conclusive" and that anyone who ties extreme weather events to climate change is an "ignoramus."
Speaking at the LCV dinner, Hillary praised the group's advocacy for the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, adding, "Years later, you pushed for and rallied behind President Obama's use of the Clean Air Act to set the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants which are driving the most dangerous effects of climate change. The unprecedented action President Obama has taken must be protected at all costs."
Most of the GOP field has vowed to eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or severely cripple it, and to roll back or repeal virtual every environmental protection regulation of the last four and a half decades from the Clean Water Act of 1972 to President Obama's Clean Power Plant rule of last year to cut carbon emissions and phase out dirty coal-fired plants.
In her presentation to LCV, Hillary acknowledged both the difficulty and importance of acting on climate change.
"The political challenges are also unforgiving," she said. "There is no getting around the fact that the kind of ambitious response required to effectively combat climate change is going to be a tough sell at home and around the world at a time when so many countries including our own are grappling with slow growth and stretched budgets. Our economy still runs primarily on fossil fuels and trying to change that will require strong leadership and intense cooperation. In many places we are beginning to move past the old false choice between protecting our environment and growing our economy and instead finally committing to do both. American’s ability to lead the world on climate change hinges on what we do here at home. No other country will fall in line just because we tell them to. They have to see us doing it."
She was interrupted by applause once during her approximately 20-minute speech. That was when she addressed the issue of natural gas development and, by inference, fracking.
She said, "I know many of us have serious concerns about the risks associated with the rapidly expanding production of natural gas which is transforming our domestic energy landscape. Methane leaks and the production and transportation of natural gas pose a particularly troubling threat. So it is crucial that we put in place smart regulations and enforce them including deciding not to drill when the risk to local communities, landscape and ecosystems are just too high."
But she added, "If we’re smart about this and put in place the right safeguards, yes, natural gas can play an important bridge role in the transition to a cleaner energy economy,” a statement likely not received too warmly by many of those who had just applauded her, but one that recognizes that natural gas is no long-term answer.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
But whether environmentalists agree with her on that issue or not, the overall difference between Hillary and her potential competitors is stark. She has an 82 percent lifetime score from LCV for her votes when she was in the U.S. Senate. (Many of the votes that kept her score from being higher were favoring offshore oil drilling). Paul and Rubio have a lifetime scores of 9 percent; Cruz checks in at 11 percent. All three have scores of zero for last year's session.
The only Republican who's expressed interest in running who isn't an all-star on the climate denial team is South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the longest of long shots. He acknowledged late last year that climate denial could be a problem for his party in the presidential race.
“I think there will be a political problem for the Republican Party going into 2016 if we don’t define what we are for on the environment,” said Graham. “I don’t know what the environmental policy of the Republican Party is.”
The real problem is that the rest of the candidate field, as well as Graham's GOP colleagues in Congress, are making it only too clear.
"The Sierra Club is pleased to welcome Hillary Clinton into the 2016 Presidential field," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. “With the implementation of the Clean Power Plan and critical climate negotiations in Paris on the horizon, climate action will be a major theme in the 2016 election. This election, Secretary Clinton has the opportunity to build on her strong environmental record, bring real leadership to the climate fight and lay out her plan to grow the American clean energy economy."
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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