At a private meeting with the Building Trades Council, Hillary Clinton bashed environmentalists who oppose natural gas fracking and insist the United States must keep all fossil fuels in the ground. She said these environmentalists need to “get a life.”
A transcript of a part of the meeting, which took place on September 9, 2015, was published by WikiLeaks. It was attached to an email from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s account, which he claims was hacked.
Clinton met with the Building Trades Council, which is part of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). She sought their endorsement, however, she wanted to be clear about what she was willing to support in the way of new pipeline construction. The labor organization is very pro-pipeline because its members work on pipelines.
“Bernie Sanders is getting lots of support from the most radical environmentalists because he’s out there every day bashing the Keystone pipeline,” Clinton stated. “And, you know, I’m not into it for that.”
“My view is I want to defend natural gas. I want to defend repairing and building the pipelines we need to fuel our economy. I want to defend fracking under the right circumstances,” Clinton added. She made it clear she was willing to defend new, modern energy sources.
Then, on environmentalists, Clinton shared, “I’m already at odds with the most organized and wildest. They come to my rallies and they yell at me and, you know, all the rest of it. They say, ‘Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?’ No. I won’t promise that. Get a life, you know.”
Clinton said she wants to get the “right balance,” and continued, “Everybody’s not going to get everything they want, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work in a democracy, but everybody needs to listen to each other.”
She advocated for nuclear power. “Nuclear is no greenhouse gas emissions. France has it for nearly 100% of their energy. They’ve never had a problem. We’ve had two problems that people know about: Chernobyl, which was a disaster and [inaudible], and you know Three Mile. Right, those were the problems we had. We’ve come a long way from there.”
Later, Clinton returned to her experience with environmental activists. “I’m having conversations in these town halls and these meetings I’m having with a lot of people who break into my meetings, they hold up posters, they scream at me, and all the rest of that: ‘Stop extracting fossil fuels, stop extracting on public lands, come out against nuclear, coal’ you name it. They are after everything, and I’m just talking through them.”
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“And, of course, they go support somebody else. That’s fine, and I don’t particularly care. But I do think I have to say, look, given everything else we have to do in this country, this is not an issue for me that I’m going to say I support. I want to work on other stuff,” Clinton said, making it clear she would not support the Keystone XL pipeline.
Clinton has openly shown her disdain for environmental activists. In late May, she yelled at a Greenpeace activist for asking her to reject “fossil fuel money.” In early April, she declared, “I feel sorry for the young people who believe” the lies Sanders is telling them about money accepted from executives and lobbyists tied to the fossil fuel industry. Young people “don’t do their own research.” Her comment was in response to a Greenpeace activist, whose question actually was based in facts.
On June 18, 2014, at a speech hosted by a promotional company called tinePublic, Clinton claimed “phony environmental groups” are “funded by the Russians.” She said the groups are pushed “to stand against any effort, oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem, and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia.”
During the Democratic Platform Committee meetings, Clinton appointees defeated the inclusion of a fracking ban. Carol Browner, a lobbyist for Albright Stonebridge Group, which has a stake in fracking services, misleadingly championed how fracking helps to reduce carbon pollution. Browner ignored the methane pollution from fracking and science that shows methane is far, far more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Clinton appointees also defeated the inclusion of language in support of “keeping over 80% of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground.” Browner again led an effort, which successfully prevented the Democrats from supporting this commitment that could meaningfully address climate change.
Her campaign flagged excerpts of her paid speeches, noting multiple instances where she promoted natural gas fracking. She was proud of innovations, which make it possible to “extract both gas and oil from previously used places that didn’t seem to have much more to offer.” However, those methods are not clean methods that carry minimal environmental risks.
Clinton has been relatively silent on the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, even as indigenous Americans mobilize along with environmental activists to stop the pipeline. The Building Trades Unions mentioned the pipeline in the Dakotas during the September meeting, but she did not say anything about it.
On Clinton’s campaign website, she hammers Donald Trump for suggesting climate change is a “Chinese hoax” and opposing clean energy solutions. However, through her support for fracking, she effectively denies science, which shows the devastating impact this extraction has on the planet.