During a campaign stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday, Bernie Sanders took decisive aim at the fossil fuel industry and his Republican colleagues who deny the science of climate change, telling the crowd: "I do not know what [they] are smoking."
Sanders launched into his speech with the declaration: "Climate change is real, climate change is caused by human activity, and climate change is already doing devastating harm in our country and all over the world."
"Now," he continued, "I don't know what my Republican colleagues are smoking, but they go around the country and they say, 'Well climate change is a hoax. It is not real.' It is a very dangerous thing for a nation when you reject science. I will not reject science. What the scientific community found is that—as serious and dangerous as the situation is today—it will only get worse in the coming years if we do not get our act together and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency."
In Minnesota, which is among the states holding a presidential primary on Super Tuesday, oil giant Enbridge is currently seeking to build two new pipelines, the Sandpiper and the Alberta Clipper, which together would transport over 1.4 million barrels of oil per day.
During the rally, which was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Sanders declared his opposition to those projects.
"President Obama said when his administration was reviewing Keystone XL that he wouldn’t grant approval if the project made climate change significantly worse," Sanders said. "A Sanders administration would direct the State Department to apply that same test to the Alberta Clipper and the Sandpiper, because we need to ensure corporations don’t keep wrecking our climate and environment for their own profit."
Sanders also touted his record of environmental leadership, which included being one of the first in Congress to oppose Keystone XL, which his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton only recently came out against.
Last week, his campaign also released an email criticizing Clinton for her support of fracking, as well as for attending a fundraiser hosted by a major fracking investor. "[J]ust as I believe you can't take on Wall Street while taking their money, I don't believe you can take on climate change effectively while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet," the email stated.
After Monday's rally, environmental campaigners commended Sanders for "once again" exemplifying leadership on environmental and climate issues.
"The litmus test of climate leadership in 2016 is keeping fossil fuels in the ground," said Jason Kowalski, spokesperson for 350 Action. "Once again Senator Sanders has come out against new fossil fuel infrastructure that would exacerbate the climate crisis. President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline because of the devastating impacts it would have on our climate and our communities, and the Sandpiper and Clipper Pipelines are not much different."