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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential condender, takes part in a rally on Capitol Hill. (Photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Bernie Sanders 'Raises the Bar Even Further' on Climate With Vow to Ban Fracking, All New Fossil Fuel Projects

"That is exactly the kind of leadership we need if we hope to stop the worst impacts of climate change."

Jake Johnson

Bernie Sanders won praise from environmental groups after releasing a climate platform that calls for a complete ban on fracking, a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure, an end to oil exports, and a Green New Deal.

"Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet," the Vermont senator and 2020 contender wrote on the climate page of his website, which was unveiled this week.

If elected president, Sanders said, his administration will work to:

  • Pass a Green New Deal to save American families money and generate millions of jobs by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100 percent energy efficiency and sustainable energy. A Green New Deal will protect workers and the communities in which they live to ensure a transition to family-sustaining wage, union jobs.
  • Invest in infrastructure and programs to protect the frontline communities most vulnerable to extreme climate impacts like wildfires, sea level rise, drought, floods, and extreme weather like hurricanes.
  • Reduce carbon pollution emissions from our transportation system by building out high-speed passenger rail, electric vehicles, and public transit.
  • Ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure and keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground by banning fossil fuel leases on public lands.
  • End exports of coal, natural gas, and crude oil.

Sanders' climate platform comes just days after fellow 2020 hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) vowed that her administration would ban fossil fuel drilling offshore and on public lands on day one.

Environmentalists celebrated the senators' bold climate positions and urged other 2020 contenders to follow suit.

"I love this competition!" tweeted David Turnbull, strategic communications director at Oil Change International.

The ACLU's Phil Aroneanu said Sanders' call for a total ban on both fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure "raises the bar even further."

Collin Rees, senior campaigner at Oil Change U.S., said in a statement Tuesday that any presidential candidate who is serious about confronting climate change must be willing to take on the fossil fuel industry.

"That's why it's great to see Senator Sanders' new climate platform hit the industry where it hurts by banning new fossil fuel infrastructure, stopping fracking, banning fossil fuel leases on public lands, and ending polluting exports," said Rees.

"Along with Senator Warren's commitment to ban new fossil fuel leases on public lands on day one," Rees added, "this plan from Senator Sanders means we're seeing the bar for climate leadership raised to new heights."

Sanders and Warren unveiled their bold proposals amid a growing push for Democratic presidential candidates to hold a climate-specific debate during the primary process, in an effort to force candidates to detail how they would tackle the ecological crisis.

As Common Dreams reported Wednesday, the U.S. Youth Climate Strike team's petition demanding a climate debate garnered over 30,000 signatures in just 48 hours.

"With the magnitude of the oncoming climate crisis, it's no longer sufficient to have a single token environmental question that 2020 candidates get to brush off with a soundbite," the petition reads. "We need an entire debate on environmental policies."


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