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Markey Leads 36 Senators in Demanding Questions on Climate in Debate

 "It is critical that every debate includes questions that ask the candidates what they would do to address climate change and environmental injustice."

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) speaks during a press conference on the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on January 24, 2020. (Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Thirty-six senators Wednesday joined 70 U.S. House colleagues in calling for the Commission on Presidential Debates to ensure President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are asked during the upcoming debate about the planetary crisis that's fueled dozens of wildfires across the West Coast in recent weeks.

"[This election] will determine how our country responds to the worsening climate crisis that we face each and every day," wrote the senators, led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass). "We don't have another election cycle to wait... Voters, regardless of their party affiliation or candidate preference, must have the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates about what they have done and plan to do to fight this crisis."

The lawmakers join climate advocates in their calls to include discussion on the climate crisis in televised debates between Trump, who has called climate change a "hoax," and Biden, who continues to stand by his commitment to not ban fracking despite evidence that renewable energy technology could not only help mitigate the climate crisis but also boost the economy. Neither presidential candidate supports the Green New Deal, an increasingly popular policy among voters.

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"We are writing today to join 70 of our colleagues in the House of Representatives in urging you to break precedent and publicly call on the moderators to include climate in the topics that will be addressed during the debates," the senators wrote, noting that not one question on the climate crisis was asked of the presidential candidates in 2016 during their debates.

Acknowledging that the climate crisis intersects with every other major issue of concern—something Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was criticized for pointing out during his 2016 presidential run—the senators pushed for action.

"With the potential for tens of millions of people to once again tune in this September and October, it is critical that every debate includes questions that ask the candidates what they would do to address climate change and environmental injustice," the senators wrote. "Without these topics, any discussion on the economy, racial justice, public health, national security, democracy, or infrastructure would be incomplete."

They continued: "Voters, regardless of their party affiliation or candidate preference, must have the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates about what they have done and plan to do to fight this crisis. We urge you to take the steps necessary to ensure that this debate cycle will not let the climate change topic go unaddressed."

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