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If elected president, Donald Trump promised he would immediately redistribute funds earmarked for UN climate change programs and channel them to domestic projects.

In a speech in Gettysburg, Trump said during his first 100 days in office he would also lift restrictions on energy production including oil, natural gas, and "clean coal" and green light projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline.

He said:

  • FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars' worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
  • SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
  • SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure

For a deeper dive:

Wall Street Journal, USA Today, LA Times, VOA News, Deutsche Welle, New York Post

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

NextGen Climate released a new video today starring Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman that urges millennials to exercise their vote on behalf of candidates who have concrete plans to address the climate crisis and transition our country to a clean energy economy. Watch here:

The video is backed by a six-figure ad buy and will run in battleground states to engage with millennials and encourage them to turn out and vote on Election Day.

"We already have the tools to stop climate change—not tomorrow, not in 10 years, right now. We can power our country with 100 percent clean energy, creating millions of new jobs, keeping carbon pollution out of our climate," said Portman in the new ad. "It all starts with your vote … I'll see you at the polls on November 8th."

With this new digital video, NextGen Climate is engaging millennials on and off campus to get them to turnout on Election Day. NextGen Climate's #WHYWEVOTE campaign is a series of targeted digital ads to engage millennials—a demographic that has historically been difficult for campaigns to reach—by meeting them where they are: online and on their phones. This campaign complements NextGen Climate's data-driven field program on more than 300 campuses across 13 battleground states.

"The Millennial Generation is a great generation—one that's very passionate about issues that impact their lives, like climate change—and it's critical that millennials make their voices heard at the ballot box this November," said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer.

"Elections are about choices and this year we have the choice to elect candidates to the White House and Senate who will enact policies to fight climate change and transition to clean energy or we could elect candidates who would take our country backwards and put our health, safety and economy at risk"

NextGen Climate is running the largest campus initiative in the country. On 300 campuses in 13 battleground states, NextGen Climate is registering millennials to vote, educating them about where the candidates stand on key issues and getting them to the polls on Nov. 8 for climate champions.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Steve Horn

After Kenneth Bone asked a question about energy to presidential nominees Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton at the presidential town hall debate on Oct. 9, he quickly became a viral internet sensation.

That evening at Washington University in St. Louis, Bone asked, "What step will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?"

Trump responded by touting "clean coal" and bashing what he described as President Barack Obama's war on energy. Sec. Clinton responded by promoting hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for oil and gas as a "bridge" to renewable fuels while also citing climate change as a "serious problem" and that she wants "to make sure we don't leave people behind."

Lost in the shuffle of the viral memes, internet jokes and a Facebook fan page is a basic question: Who is Ken Bone and what does he do for a living?

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that Bone works for the Prairie State Energy Campus, which is co-owned by a consortium of electric power companies and located about an hour southeast of St. Louis in Lively Grove, Illinois. Adam Siegel, who blogs at the site Get Smart Energy Now, first pointed to the lack of disclosure the day after the debate.

Both a blog post promoting Prairie State employees' community volunteer work and his personal Facebook page confirm that Bone works for Prairie State.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Prairie State opened in late 2012 and is one of the dirtiest U.S. power plants opened in the past quarter century. Previously, it was partially owned by coal giant Peabody Energy until it sold its five percent stake in May.

"Each year, it will churn more than 13 million tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, an amount equivalent to adding 2 million cars to the nation's highways," wrote the Chicago Tribune. "Most U.S. power plants emitting that much climate-change pollution date to the 1960s and '70s."

Prairie State has also been marred by cost overruns, with the plant racking up far higher building costs than originally stated. These cost overruns have led to lawsuits filed against the company by townships such as Hermann, Missouri and Batavia, Illinois.

The company has attempted to dodge compliance with President Obama's proposed Clean Power Plan, which would force coal-fired power plants to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement of the Clean Air Act for carbon emissions. The company wrote a letter to the EPA in May 2015 expressing its concerns about the proposed rule and also is a petitioner in the energy industry and states' lawsuit against the EPA, a case which will soon be decided upon by the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia.

Despite this track record, Bone told The Washington Post, "We're one of the most environmentally-friendly coal power plants in the world. We're very recently built."

The case study of Bone and Prairie State Energy Campus, then, raises another question: How are those who ask questions in the audiences vetted to avoid potential non-disclosure of industry ties and conflicts of interest?

Lack of Disclosure

In introducing Bone, co-moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN did not disclose what he did for a profession, but that was standard procedure for all audience members who asked a question. In doing post-debate media interviews, Bone has said he works for a coal-fired power plant company, but media outlets apparently have not asked him about which company he works for.

The Gallup Organization teamed up with the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) to choose debate attendees from St. Louis-area residents. CPD is the nonprofit organization founded by Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee leaders, but ahead of the debate, the Los Angeles Times reported that it remained "unclear how members of the audience will be selected to ask questions."

"The Commission on Presidential Debates worked with Gallup, a research and polling company, to randomly select uncommitted registered voters from the area around St. Louis, where the debate is being held," reported the Times. "Uncommitted voters include people who have not made up their minds or are leaning toward one nominee but could still be persuaded to vote for the other."

In a videotaped interview with the Belleville News-Democrat, Bone said he was randomly selected to attend the debate by Gallup based on the randomized phone survey the organization conducted for undecided voters, saying he was surprised it did not turn out to be a "dog and pony show" in terms of who gets to ask questions and what he or she gets to ask.

He also went on Anderson Cooper's CNN show the day after the debate, but the interview focused on his wardrobe, not what he does for a living. On his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Bone did say he worked for the coal electricity industry and expressed worry about some of Clinton's proposed energy policies, while also pointing to his fear of Donald Trump's stances on bread-and-butter civil rights issues like gay marriage. He expressed similar sentiments to The Washington Post.

Bone told DeSmog he went to the debate on his own volition and told The New York Times, "I'm just glad I was able to spark the energy debate a little bit. It was kind of getting overlooked."

"I got no funding of any kind. I work in coal and I care deeply about the environment," he told DeSmog. "No one knew my question in advance except the moderators and my wife."

Bone's employer also said that he was there on his own, not as a representative for the company.

"Ken attended the event as an individual and not on Prairie State's behalf," Alyssa Harre, manager of public relations and government affairs for Prairie State, told DeSmog. "Ken developed the question on his own."

While it doesn't appear to be the case this time, in the past the coal industry has used what's called third party technique, in which the industry deploys regular-seeming people to speak positively on its behalf.

For example, the industry did so during the 2012 election cycle when Murray Energy had Ohio mine workers appear at a "mandatory" rally (without pay) for Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney.

A senior CPD official said it relies on Gallup do a "process and screen, the details of which [the CPD] does not get into—a similar process for which we've been using for many cycles—to identify individuals that are non-committed." The official also said identifying the line of work for the person who stands up and asks a question at town hall debates is not something the CPD has ever done.

Memoranda of Understanding

Leaked Memoranda of Understanding from previous presidential debates offer some clues as to how questioners are selected. The Memoranda are the agreements designed by the two major party campaigns each election season which govern the format and rules of the debates. While typically not released to the public, they were leaked to the press in both 2004 and 2012.

Both documents describe a nearly identical selection process.

Gallup is first tasked with finding a "nationally demographically representative group of voters" using a methodology which must be approved by both campaigns. Once selected, audience members then submit their written questions to the moderator, who makes sure the questions are roughly divided between foreign policy and national security on the one hand, and domestic and economic policy on the other. The moderator is also tasked with removing any questions they find "inappropriate."

Finally, the moderator must then come up with a process fulfilling the paradoxical task of both randomly selecting questions and making sure they cover "a wide range of issues of major public interest." The candidates must approve this process as well.

While it's not clear if the candidates did or did not sign a written agreement this year, the two campaigns did negotiate the debate rules and it would not be surprising if they followed a similar process in earlier debates. Janet Brown, executive director of the CPD, told CNN that the moderators would select around eight audience members from a crowd of 40 to ask questions "with the goal of maximizing the number of topics covered," suggesting the process is little changed from previous years.

ABC News—whose reporter Martha Raddatz co-moderated the debate alongside Anderson Cooper—deferred a query about how those who ask questions at debates are vetted to the Commissions on President Debates and Gallup. CNN did not respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Branko Marcetic. Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogBlog.

Climate change hasn't gotten much air time during the 2016 presidential election, but that changed Tuesday afternoon in Florida when Hillary Clinton and Al Gore appeared together at Miami Dade College.

"Our next president will either step up to protect our planet, or we will be dragged backwards and our whole planet will be put at risk," said Clinton to an enthusiastic crowd of students and supporters.

On the heels of Hurricane Matthew, which set records as the longest-lived category 4-5 hurricane in the Eastern Caribbean and Western Atlantic, and the longest-lived major hurricane that formed after Sept 25, former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore said, "When it comes to the most urgent issue facing our country and the world, the choice in this election is extremely clear. Hillary Clinton will make solving our climate crisis a top priority. Her opponent will take us toward a climate catastrophe."

Gore, remembering Hurricane Andrew, which struck Florida in 1992 as he and the Clintons campaigned for office, noted that, since then, the sea level in the Florida waters has risen three inches. The rate of sea-level rise has tripled over the last 10 years. At the time, Hurricane Andrew was the most destructive hurricane in U.S. history. The category 5 hurricane killed 44 in Florida and was the costliest disaster in the state's history.

Miami Herald

Miami is highly vulnerable to climate change. With 441,000 people, it sits just six feet above sea level. Its highest elevation is only 42 feet. In the past 10 years, flooding in Miami Beach from high tides has quadrupled. On a regular basis, ocean waters invade streets, damage cars and disrupt business.

"It's become a daily reality here in Miami," said Clinton. "You have the streets flood at high tide, and the ocean is bubbling up through the sewer system."

The former Secretary of State also pointed to the need to address the challenges brought on by climate change, saying, "We need to invest in resilient infrastructure." Ironically, South Florida is moving forward on an aggressive plan that acknowledges climate change in a state where Florida officials are prohibited from even using the term under the administration of Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

"In this election, the future of Miami and cities up and down the east and west coast of Florida are on the ballot as well," Gore said. He stressed the importance of voting, taking from his personal experience in the state in 2000. "Your vote really, really, really counts," he said emphatically. The event today was the first time that Gore has publicly campaigned for Clinton in this election.

The Miami appearance yesterday comes just ahead of the now-extended voter registration deadline of 5 p.m. on Wednesday. A court order was required to provide additional time for Florida voters—many of whom evacuated or were displaced by Hurricane Matthew—to register, after Gov. Scott refused to extend the deadline. Florida is a key battleground state, with 29 electoral votes. Fivethirtyeight gives Hillary Clinton a 71 percent chance of carrying the state as of today.

And, according to 350 Action's Executive Director May Boeve, if "Clinton really wants to bring young voters to the polls, she'll need to keep adopting even more ambitious positions on climate, like stopping the destructive Dakota Access Pipeline or vocally endorsing fossil fuel divestment. Millennials want someone who will stand up to the fossil fuel industry and help protect our shared future. The louder she gets, the more we'll vote."

Clinton sketched out her plan for dealing with climate change during her remarks, "I want to see 500 million more solar panels installed across America by the end of my first term, and have enough renewable energy to power every home within 10 years," she said. She also noted that renewable energy is now the fastest growing source of new jobs in the U.S., and warned that if America doesn't step up, either Germany or China will become "the clean energy superpower of the 21st century."

Before the two embraced and walked off the stage, Gore concluded by saying, "We have the opportunity to look back on this year as the time when our nation chose to finally answer the alarm bells on the climate crisis."

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