Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

How Iowa Caucus Could Place Urgency of Climate Action to Forefront of National Debate

Climate
How Iowa Caucus Could Place Urgency of Climate Action to Forefront of National Debate

The road to my caucus location in Iowa on Monday will wind along an Iowa River valley littered with the reminders of record flooding and drought since the last election—and a sea change on voters' priorities on climate action since 2008.

Climate change, like the candidates' climate action plans, may have received scant attention in the presidential debates and media.

But in Iowa, a state that leads in wind energy production and faces severe economic and agricultural risks from extreme weather, Bernie Sanders' bold climate action plan and long-time track record to take on the fossil fuel lobby is uniting a new generation of Iowa farmers and clean energy entrepreneurs, inspiring a groundswell of student activism, and tapping into the real and urgent climate leadership emerging in cities like Des Moines, Dubuque and Iowa City.

As the only candidate standing up to the Bakken pipeline, fracking and the fossil fuel lobby, and laying out a plan for farmers and displaced workers to be part of a clean energy revolution, Sanders is not just Iowa's climate champion.

A Sanders victory in Iowa next Monday could place the urgency of climate action back to the forefront of national debate—and electrify a new coalition of clean energy voters across the country.

All Democrats, of course, have touted their clean energy and climate action bona fides. But there is a huge divide between Hillary Clinton's and Martin O'Malley's notable renewable energy plans, and Sanders' long-time track record of standing up to the fossil fuel lobby and calling for an end to huge fossil fuel subsidies, as well as extraction on public lands.

The controversy of the Bakken pipeline for Iowans, as seen in this ad, highlights Sanders' leadership:

As part of his plans to cut carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2030, Sanders—unlike Clinton—calls for a carbon tax on polluters, in order to "return billions of dollars to working families to ensure the fossil fuel companies don't subject Americans to unfair rate hikes" and "protect low-income and minority communities that are most impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change."

As rural Iowans hold off devastating frac sand mining operations in the northern part of the state, Sanders is the only candidate to campaign against hydraulic fracking and liquefied natural gas exports.

The challenge, Sanders writes, remains the fossil fuel lobby:

"The fossil fuel industry spends billions and billions of dollars lobbying and buying candidates to block virtually all progress on climate change. At the national level where companies have to report what they spend on lobbying and campaign contributions, the oil companies, coal companies and electric utilities spent a staggering $2.26 billion in federal lobbying since 2009 and another $330 million in federal campaign contributions."

Sanders stands alone in defiance of the stranglehold of the fossil fuel lobby in Washington, and in the Democratic Party.

In this respect, an Iowa victory for Sanders will determine any real debate and progress on climate action and a clean energy revolution in the future.

Follow Jeff Biggers on Twitter.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Sanders vs. Clinton: Hard Hitting Final Pitches to Iowa Voters

Michael Bloomberg Considers a Run for President

5 Reasons Ted Cruz Is More Dangerous Than Donald Trump

15 Florida Mayors to Marco Rubio: We're Going Under, Take Climate Change Seriously

U.S. returns create about 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. manonallard / Getty Images

Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate Envoy John Kerry (L) and President-elect Joseph (R) are seen during Kerry's ceremonial swearing in as Secretary of State on February 6, 2013 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian

John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Scientific integrity is key for protecting the field against attacks. sanjeri / Getty Images

By Maria Caffrey

As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.

Read More Show Less
A pair of bears perch atop Brooks Falls in Alaska's Katmai National Park, about 100 miles from the proposed Pebble Mine site. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.

Read More Show Less

OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Gwen Ranniger

In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.

Read More Show Less