Over the next two weeks, Republican and Democratic leaders will gather in Cleveland and Philadelphia for the quadrennial exercise in partisan persuasion and political soapboxing we call the national presidential nominating conventions.
Behind the boisterous clamor for air time and the furious competition for votes, the conventions serve a high purpose: to lay out competing visions of our country’s future so that we might decide, come Election Day, which road holds out greater promise for our nation.
The season can feel divisive, but one thing that unites us is our common dependence on the health of the natural systems upon which all life depends.
Unfortunately, our politics doesn’t reflect that fact?—?far from it. After a century in which both parties, to varying degrees, recognized the need for responsible environmental safeguards, we’ve seen the reckless abandonment of that core American value by congressional leaders in the GOP.
That’s why the NRDC Action Fund endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on May 31. In the weeks since then, the case for Clinton has become stronger by the day. She’s demonstrated a deep understanding of the environmental challenges we face and a commitment to taking the action we need. The contrast between her party’s record and her opponent’s could not be more stark.
When Rep. Bill Johnson, R-OH., called the work of the Environmental Protection Agency “un-American” during a House hearing last week, he was merely putting into words what many of his GOP colleagues have repeatedly expressed through votes that would undermine protections for our water, air, wildlife and lands and cripple our efforts to fight global climate change.
Far from repudiating those measures and claims, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, has added fuel to the fire,denouncing climate change as a hoax?—?except when rising seas threaten his golf courses. He’s said it was invented by the Chinese, only to claim later he was joking. If elected, Trump would be the only national leader in the world to reject what the science tells us about climate change. And he’s threatened to tear up or “renegotiate” the global agreement among the United States and more than 185 other countries in Paris last December to hasten the shift away from the dirty fossil fuels that are driving climate change and toward cleaner, smarter ways to power our future.
We don’t need to turn back the clock on hard won gains in the fight against climate change. We need to move forward with concrete action that turns the promise of Paris into the progress we need.
We need a president who will build on the advances President Obama has made to cut the carbon footprint from our cars, trucks and workplaces. We need to clean up our dirty power plants. We need to invest in efficiency, so we can do more with less waste, build the world’s best all-electric and hybrid cars and power them with more clean energy from the wind and sun. We need to get our government out of the oil, gas and coal business?—?for good. And we need to ensure environmental justice for every American.
That, in large part, describes the policies of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic candidate the NRDC Action Fund has endorsed.
She understands what it means to have just finished the hottest June ever recorded in the contiguous United States?—?3.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th Century average. She knows its no hoax that last year was the hottest since global record keeping began in 1880, the first five months of this year were hotter still, and 19 of the hottest years on record have occurred in the past two decades. She understands that, when the most authoritative climate scientists in the world tell us we’re facing a crisis, it’s time to stop making jokes and start making progress.
She understands, too, the folly of investing, as a nation, in the very dirty fuels we know we have to move away from to protect our children from the worst impacts of climate change. She’ll back Obama’s freeze on new leases for coal production on federal lands, knowing existing leases can produce coal for many years to come. She’ll protect precious Arctic and Atlantic waters from the risk of a blowout or catastrophic spill, by taking those waters off the table for oil and gas development. And she’ll work with those of us calling for an end to new leases on all federal lands and offshore waters for the production of fossil fuels, appreciating that, here again, existing leases can produce such fuels far into our future, while we transition to cleaner, safer ways to power economic growth.
Finally, she’s committed to environmental justice for every American.
We all pay a price for dirty air and water, polluted lands and wildlife at risk. Some of us, though, bear a greater burden?—?people living in low income communities, African-Americans, Latinos and other people of color.
At the NRDC Action Fund, we reject the notion that some Americans are entitled to greater environmental protections than others simply because of their race, neighborhood or income. We believe the pursuit of justice lies at the heart of who we are and what we aspire to become as Americans. We believe Hillary Clinton has shown, throughout the course of her public career, a willingness to fight to expand justice and equity for all of our people, to stand and take care of our own.
The stakes in this election are high, for our country and all we hold dear. We are working at the NRDC Action Fund to restore the bipartisan majority for common sense environmental safeguards. We look to the day this becomes, once again, not an issue that divides us red state and blue, but a core value that unites us as Americans.
Until that day, we’ll need someone to stand strong against the special interests in the fossil fuel industry and their handmaidens on Capitol Hill. We’ll need a leader who takes seriously our obligation to protect future generations from the growing dangers of climate change. We’ll need someone who shares our belief in environmental justice for every American.
That candidate is Hillary Rodham Clinton.