Q27: Do you support a strong federal Environmental Protection Agency?
Clinton: “A strong EPA is critical to protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink. It is essential we ensure that the EPA has the necessary tools to develop and enforce smart regulations that protect our communities from harmful pollution. Doing so demonstrates that we don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and a prosperous economy.”
Sanders: Yes. “I strongly support the EPA and its very important goals, and am distressed by the constant attacks on this foundational environmental law. As a member of Senate committee that has primary jurisdiction over the surface transportation bill and the Water Resources Development Act, I have seen these attempts to undermine the law up close. However, I also believe that when the EPA process unreasonably drags on for relatively straightforward projects, it unnecessarily bolsters the argument of those who do not favor the goals of the law in the first place. To my mind, we must defend the critically important environmental protection, transparency and public participation goals of EPA, while making sure the permitting process works as efficiently as possible. And that requires, among other things, fully funding the agencies that implement the law. The same people that attack EPA also favor slashing the budgets of federal agencies, and then expect employees to do the same amount of work with fewer resources. And when those agencies struggle to keep up, these same people point to a “failing” system. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that has nothing to do with the merits of the law being implemented.
“We must support and strengthen, rather than demonize the Environmental Protection Agency, which plays such an important role in enforcing landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. These laws are critically important in terms of improving public health and protecting our environment, and are also proven to be good for our economy.”
Carson: “The objective of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. A Carson administration would ensure that the EPA performs its mission without overemphasizing its guns and badges or without creating unnecessary bureaucratic roadblocks to job growth, community development and public safety.”
Q28: Will your Administration treat climate change as a serious national and global environment threat?
Clinton: “Climate change is a defining challenge of our time, and combating it is a top priority for me. We know that climate change is real, that it is being driven by human activity, that it is already affecting the United States, and that low-income communities and communities of color stand to lose the most, despite contributing the least to the problem.
We have no time to waste, and I have a comprehensive approach to this challenge. I want America to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century and believe we can create millions of new jobs in a clean energy economy—in manufacturing, clean energy installations, building retrofits, energy efficiency, infrastructure, and more. I have set two ambitious goals to help get us there—I want to see 500 million solar panels installed by the end of my first term, and to generate enough renewable electricity to power every home in America within 10 years. I’ve released a comprehensive plan to upgrade every aspect of our energy infrastructure, from modernizing our electric grid and hardening it against extreme weather and cyberattacks, to repairing thousands of miles of corroded gas pipes beneath our cities, to launching a Clean Energy Challenge to help cities, states, and rural communities go above and beyond the federal government’s national goals for cutting carbon pollution and boosting clean energy and energy efficiency.
And I want to make sure every American shares in the benefits of a clean energy future. That means helping to bring solar and energy efficiency technologies to more low-income communities. We know that air pollution and particulate matter is extremely harmful to people’s lungs, and especially to children’s lungs. Our air is cleaner than it used to be, but an African American child is still 500 percent more likely to die of asthma than a white child because they bear the consequences of living near power plants, highways, and other pollution sources. I firmly believe environmental justice shouldn’t just be a slogan—it should be a goal. And it will be central to my approach to fighting climate change.”
Sanders: Yes. “To my mind, global climate change is the greatest threat facing the planet, and there is no question that this will be among my top priorities in my first 100 days in office. In fact, before I am inaugurated, I will convene a Climate Change Summit with environmental leaders, scientists and experts to begin developing a Climate Action Agenda. And on day one of my Presidency, I will sign the most ambitious series of executive orders in history to deal with the urgent issue of climate change – and then I will move swiftly to introduce climate legislation in Congress, including a carbon pricing bill.
“Virtually the entire scientific community agrees that human activity is a significant driver of global warming, and that if we don’t drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it will get much worse by mid-century. I believe we must dramatically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which is why last Congress I introduced the Climate Protection Act, to tax carbon and methane emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas production, and use the revenue to make historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”
Carson: “I believe that a Carson Administration would leave the Earth in better condition due to positive policies of energy and environmental stewardship.”
Systematic Racism and Criminal Justice Reform