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Sanders First 2020 Democrat to Pledge, If Elected, All Top Appointees Will Back Fracking Ban and Bold Climate Action

"If presidential hopefuls are truly serious about tackling fossil fuels head-on, a commitment on appointments must reflect this."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt. delivers remarks during a news conference introducing the Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground Act of 2015 outside the U.S. Capitol November 4, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday affirmed that if he wins the presidency, his administration will only include officials who share his opposition to all fracking and fossil fuel development.

The Vermont Independent, who is a Democratic candidate in the 2020 election, was the first candidate to sign a pledge put forward Wednesday by Food & Water Action, the political action arm of the public health advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

"As president," the pledge reads, "I pledge to only appoint individuals to environmental, energy, foreign policy, and national security positions in my administration that affirm the extent of the climate emergency we face, and support: banning fracking everywhere; halting all new fossil fuel infrastructure development; and banning fossil fuel exports."

Food & Water Watch, along with other climate action groups, has been closely monitoring the positions held by presidential candidates on fracking, fossil fuel development, oil and gas exports, and other issues related to protecting the planet from climate-warming carbon emissions.

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On Thursday, the group emphasized the need for a president who will ensure the federal government is led by officials who are committed to transitioning to a renewable energy economy in order to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis. "As we know so well from the Trump administration and many before it, much of the policy issued by the White House is formulated and implemented by cabinet members, agency heads and key staff—many of whom have their own beliefs, agendas and motivations," Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement.

President Donald Trump's appointees at the Interior Department and the PA have come under fire for their conflicts of interest and support for fracking and other fossil fuel extraction methods.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry who "consistently puts private profit above the public interest, crafting policies to benefit past clients and rolling back longstanding rules to protect habitat, imperiled species, and public health," according to 160 green groups who opposed his appointment.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist who has slashed penalties for corporate polluters, rolled back fuel efficiency standards, and approved dangerous pesticides. 

"If presidential hopefuls are truly serious about tackling fossil fuels head-on," Hauter said, "a commitment on appointments must reflect this."

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