Clinton Vows to Make Climate Change ‘Huge' Priority

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By Anthony Adragna

Nov. 9 — Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said Nov. 9 she would continue and expand on President Barack Obama's climate change initiatives as some of her first acts in office.

Clinton, speaking in Nashua, N.H., said she would look at renewing executive actions on climate change, pursue legislation to address the problem and set up the next phase of international negotiations on the subject during her first weeks in office.

“This will be a huge part of what I try to do in my very first weeks in office,” Clinton said in accepting the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund.

The former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady has pledged to make the U.S. a clean energy superpower if elected president, but she has increasingly sought to shore up her environmental bona fides to allay the concerns of some environmental advocates (151 ECR, 8/6/15).

This year, for example, Clinton came out against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic. Both of those were key issues that some in the environmental community saw as reasons for concern with her candidacy, since they said she hadn't been clear about her positions.

Optimistic About Paris Talks

In the shorter term, Clinton said there is a “very high hope and expectation that there can be a new, ambitious, lasting international climate agreement” that would emerge from weeks of international negotiations in Paris this December.

If those talks are ultimately successful, it will be because of the foundation Clinton and Obama helped establish during negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, she said.

The U.S. leaders did help salvage a last-minute deal during the 2009 talks, but many observers have said the Copenhagen accord fell well short of a breakthrough and led to grumbling by many nations who felt they were essentially cut out of the agreement.

But Clinton said the negotiations were important because they showed that the world must “stay focused and stay relentless in dealing with these big problems,” and they brought many of the developing countries to the table for the first time. She vowed to continue those principles if elected.

“As president, I will build on what we get done in Paris and will keep pushing it,” Clinton said. “It will always be a high priority of mine.”

‘Move Away From Coal.'

During her remarks, Clinton said she would defend Environmental Protection Agency final rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but she also said she would pursue a transition fund for communities harmed by the downturn in the coal industry.

“We have to move away from coal,” Clinton said. “Everyone understands that. There's no doubt about it. But that does not and should not mean we move away from coal miners, their families and their communities.”

Other struggling communities worthy of attention are those of low-income residents who live close to power plants and other industries that generate significant amounts of pollution, Clinton said.

“I think this is something we don't talk about enough,” Clinton said. “Environmental justice shouldn't just be slogan. It should be a goal.”

Hails Investigation Into Exxon

Clinton also waded further into the issue of whether Exxon Mobil Corp. may have misled the public or investors about the risks of burning fossil fuels.

Clinton hailed New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's decision to launch an investigation into the company's activities as a “big deal” (214 ECR 214, 11/5/15).

“This is something that all three of the Democratic candidates called for,” she said, aligning herself with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Gov. Martin O'Malley (Md.).

In endorsing Clinton for president, the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund hailed her “proven history of leadership” and “strong environmental record.”

“When it comes to fighting the climate crisis, the stakes couldn't be higher—and we are confident that Hillary Clinton is the right person for the job,” Gene Karpinski, president of the fund, said in a statement. “Hillary Clinton is without a doubt the most effective leader to stand up to Big Polluters and push forward an aggressive plan to tackle climate change and get it done.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at