Q80: Do you support a strong federal Environmental Protection Agency?
Biden: Yes. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. I will direct my EPA and Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation as needed to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited. I will direct my EPA and entire administration to carry out my comprehensive plan for a Clean Energy Revolution, found HERE.
Bloomberg: Yes. Mike will restore a strong EPA and restore the agency’s respect and integrity by–
- Reversing the Trump Administration’s assaults on rules to protect the environment and public health. The Trump Administration has worked to weaken, withdraw, or repeal rules that limit toxic mercury pollution from coal plants, that protect groundwater from toxic waste, and to remove vast portions of the nation’s wetlands and streams from any Clean Water Act protection at all. Mike will direct EPA to stop the rulemaking process for anti-environmental efforts, put a halt to pending litigation in defense of Trump’s anti-environmental efforts already finalized, and replace anti-environmental rules with stronger rules to protect the environment and public health as quickly as possible.
- Restoring budget cuts, including for both EPA and the Department of Justice to enforce environmental laws, especially to address environmental problems that affect the low-income communities and communities of color that often bear the worst impacts.
- Stopping the Trump Administration’s attacks on scientific independence and its attempts to restrict the use of science that would lead to environmental standards more protective of public health
- He will also work collaboratively with all stakeholders to strengthen health and safety protections, consulting with communities that have borne the worst impacts of pollution.
Buttigeig: Yes. I deeply support a strong federal Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to strengthening regulatory enforcement, as President I will restore science, facts, data, and evidence as integral to Oval Office decision-making. I will immediately charge my administration to put science back in its rightful place in government. I will start by reversing anti-science actions of the current administration, including by restoring key scientific advisory committees, adding back scientific facts removed from government websites, and rolling back the so-called EPA science transparency rule, which in reality prevents EPA from using the best-available science in decision-making.
De La Fuente: Yes. All people deserve to grow up in clean air and water.
Klobuchar: Yes. Under the Trump Administration, EPA staffing levels and enforcement efforts have fallen dramatically. As President, Senator Klobuchar will restore appropriate staffing levels to allow the agency to effectively protect the environment and will direct the EPA to vigorously enforce the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws and make sure the enforcers have the resources they need. In addition, the Trump Administration has worked to dismantle environmental justice programs. Senator Klobuchar will invest in the EPA’s Environmental Justice Grants, Funding and Technical Assistance and Office of Civil Rights.
Sanders: Yes. We need an EPA that will take on the fossil fuel industry, reduce emissions, ensure justice for frontline communities, and take on the existential crisis that is climate change. As President, Bernie will have the strongest EPA in history so that we can address the climate crisis, which is not only the single greatest challenge facing our country, it is also our single greatest opportunity to build a more just and equitable future, but we must act immediately.
Not only will Bernie invest $16.3 trillion toward these efforts, in line with the mobilization of resources made during the New Deal and WWII, but with an explicit choice to include black, indigenous and other minority communities who were systematically excluded in the past, but also Bernie’s EPA will do everything with executive action to advance environmental justice and end environmental racism. To this end, Bernie will:
- Ensure the full and equal enforcement of all environmental, civil rights, and public health laws and aggressive prosecution of violators. Hazardous waste sites, chemical and industrial plants, aging lead pipes, and decaying infrastructure that endanger the health of all citizens will be fully regulated to ensure the health and safety of all. The EPA’s Office of Civil Rights will step up its investigations into alleged environmental justice violations, including corporate polluters as well as the elected officials who enable them.
- Fully survey and track pollution in vulnerable communities. The EPA
- EnviroScreen will be enhanced to provide comprehensive information about cumulative environmental impacts. States will be required to report progress made on environmental justice every five years. Traditionally under-represented communities will receive significant public education, technical assistance, and outreach as part of agency rulemakings and public commenting processes to elicit participation.
- Update permitting rules that allow polluters to target poor communities for polluting infrastructure. Cumulative environmental impacts will be measured and we will require polluters to remediate them. Precaution for the health and safety of our children and planet should be valued above profit.
- Ensure that all agencies abide by Executive Order 12898, which according to the EPA requires agencies to “identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority and low-income populations, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law.”
Steyer: Yes. I will use every legal tool available to my administration to decarbonize our economy on a sector-by-sector basis, and to ensure that we are meeting emissions reduction milestones economy-wide on our path to carbon neutrality by 2045. I support the recognition of Americans’ constitutional right to clean air and clean water.
Warren: Yes. The Trump administration has proposed dramatic cuts to the EPA, including to its Civil Rights office, and threatened to eliminate EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice entirely. I’ll restore and grow both offices, including by expanding the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) and Environmental Justice Small Grant programs. We’ll condition these competitive grant funds on the development of state- and local-level environmental justice plans, and ensure that regional EPA offices stay open with the funds they need to provide support and capacity. But it’s not just a matter of size. Historically, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has rejected nine out of ten cases brought to it for review. In a Warren Administration, we will aggressively pursue cases of environmental discrimination wherever they occur. A Warren administration will also encourage the EPA and Department of Justice to aggressively go after corporate polluters, particularly in cases of environmental discrimination. We need real consequences for corporate polluters that break our environmental law. That means steep fines, which we will reinvest in impacted communities. And under my Corporate Executive Accountability Act, we’ll press for criminal penalties for executives when their companies hurt people through criminal negligence.
Q81: Will your Administration treat climate change as a serious national and global environmental threat?
Biden: Yes. From coastal towns to rural farms to urban centers, climate change poses an existential threat – not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, our national security, and our economic well-being. It also damages our communities with storms that wreak havoc on our towns and cities and our homes and schools. It puts our national security at risk by leading to regional instability that will require U.S military-supported relief activities and could make areas more vulnerable to terrorist activities.
I know there is no greater challenge facing our country and our world. I have a bold plan – a Clean Energy Revolution – to address this grave threat and lead the world in addressing the climate emergency. As president, I will lead the world to address the climate emergency and lead through the power of example, by ensuring the U.S. achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050. I will immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and push our allies to increase the ambition of their climate targets.
View details of how my administration will treat the climate emergency as a serious national and global threat HERE.
Bloomberg: Yes. Mike considers climate change to be the top threat to the United States and the planet. As a sign of the seriousness of his commitment, his first act as President will be to re-join the Paris Agreement, and he will immediate a series of executive actions to dramatically reduce the United States’ contribution to carbon pollution, to restore the U.S.’ moral authority on climate change and rally other countries to raise global ambition to curb climate change. His climate priorities include:
- Restoring global climate leadership.Mike will make climate change a top priority of his foreign policy, using trade and security agreements, as well as international convening, to encourage other countries to commit to more ambitious carbon reduction. He will also protect the country from climate-related security risks, creating an Office of Climate Security in the White House to coordinate across intelligence, diplomacy, development, and defense, and he’ll support protecting the world’s most vulnerable people from the impacts of climate change.
- Building a 100% clean energy economy. Mike’s plans to reduce carbon pollution 50% economy-wide in 10 years are integrated with his plans for a $1 trillion investment in modernizing America’s infrastructure, creating millions of good jobs while building a clean energy economy. His plans include:
- Shifting the country to 100% clean energy, by extending incentives to make clean energy affordable for all families, funding the build-out of a clean energy power grid, instituting new emissions standards for fossil-fuel power plants that encourage a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, investing to protect the most affected communities and workers, and quadrupling clean energy research and development.
- Investing in clean transportation, making electric vehicles affordable and charging convenient for all families, pushing automakers to make more models available with stronger gas mileage and pollution standards and a zero-emissions vehicles standard that requires that all new cars be electric by 2035, reducing diesel pollution in urban neighborhoods by funding efforts to switch to electric school and transit buses and freight trucks, and tripling investment in public transit systems to reduce urban air pollution and congestion.
- Getting fossil fuels out of homes and buildings, reducing energy bills and indoor air pollution, by offering financial incentives to families and building owners to upgrade homes and buildings and replace oil and gas furnaces with pollution-free ones and by improving building codes and appliance standards.
Buttigeig: Yes. The first step of my plan to address climate change (https://peteforamerica.com/climate) is to work with Congress and existing executive authorities to implement a bold and achievable Green New Deal. We are setting ambitious yet realistic targets to develop a zero emissions electricity grid by 2035 and become a net-zero emissions society by 2050. First, my administration will build a clean economy. I will invest in talent and enterprise here at home to unlock new technologies and bring together partners to reduce emissions across the electricity, transportation, industrial, and agricultural sectors. I will create 3 million clean energy jobs, quadruple federal clean energy R&D funding to $200 billion over 10 years, strengthen our rural communities, and protect America’s natural resources. My intention is to promote a clean and prosperous future and to prioritize justice and inclusion as we embrace these changes. I will also help communities build resilience. We are already feeling the devastating effects of climate change, whether it’s farmers affected by floods or communities managing storm surges or forest fires. My plan makes our cities and states more resilient by empowering our communities and focusing on infrastructure and disaster preparedness. Lastly, we must demonstrate leadership abroad. Combating climate change will require American leadership to bring our nation together and make the fight for a cleaner future a global priority. I will ensure that America once again plays a leadership role in bilateral and multilateral negotiations and organizations to push for far more ambitious commitments to reducing emissions.
De La Fuente: Yes, we will.
Klobuchar: Yes. Senator Klobuchar is deeply committed to tackling the climate crisis and believes that it is an urgent priority for our communities, for our economy and for our planet. On day one of Senator Klobuchar’s Presidency she will get us back into the International Climate Change Agreement. On day two and day three, she will bring back and strengthen clean power rules and gas mileage standards that the Obama Administration put into place. And she will put forward sweeping legislation that provides a landmark investment in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, provides incentives for tougher building codes, promotes rural renewable energy and development, supports a landmark carbon pricing system that does not have a regressive impact on Americans, promotes “buy clean” policies, and puts our country on a path to achieving 100% net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Read more about Senator Klobuchar’s plan to tackle the climate crisis here: https://medium.com/@AmyforAmerica/senator-klobuchars- plan-to-tackle-the-climate-crisis-b1133845d2bb
Sanders: Yes. There is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes. Bernie will declare a national emergency on climate change and take immediate, large-scale action to reverse its effects. Furthermore, Bernie will provide strong, inclusive American leadership to not only transform our own energy system, but to reach out to countries all over the world and cooperate on the global crisis of climate change. We must recognize that people from every country in the world — Russia, India, China, Japan, Brazil — are all in this together. Instead of accepting that the world’s countries will spend $1.8 trillion annually on weapons of destruction, Bernie will convene global leaders to redirect our priorities to confront our shared enemy: climate change.
Together, we will lead the international community to keep global warming at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius. We will not only reduce US carbon pollution emissions by 71 percent, we will support less industrialized nations in the Global South, excluding China, to help them reduce emissions by 36 percent from 2017 levels by 2030, consistent with meeting our fair share of emissions reductions under the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations. Climate change is an existential threat and we will do whatever it takes to confront it.
Steyer: Yes. I began this campaign because despite several Democratic candidates talking about the climate crisis, the seriousness of the threat was not getting the attention it demanded. My presidency will mean a mandate to take the broad and bold action we need. As history has shown us, 2nd and 3rd priorities don’t get results in Washington. And climate change doesn’t just represent a serious threat — it is also a great opportunity to build a sustainable American infrastructure and an economy that restores prosperity to all Americans, not just the wealthy. We do not have any more time to waste, which is why addressing the climate crisis is my top priority, and has been for a decade — well before any of my competitors decided to get serious on this issue.
Warren: Yes. America needs a president who won’t just recognize the urgency of this crisis, but one who will lead the country toward a clean energy future at the speed and scale that science demands, while also attacking income and racial inequality head-on. The climate crisis will leave no one untouched. But it also represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity: to create millions of good American jobs in clean and renewable energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing; to unleash the best of American innovation and creativity; to rebuild our unions and create real progress and justice for workers; and to directly confront the racial and economic inequality embedded in our fossil fuel economy. From day one of my presidency I will work to implement a Green New Deal, using all the tools of the federal government to do so. We won’t meet our climate goals with a one-time, one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we need big, structural change — and I am prepared to use the full power of the presidency to achieve it. On day one, I’ll issue a sweeping executive order rolling back all of Donald Trump’s disastrous pro-fossil fuels policies, banning new fossil fuel leases offshore and on public lands, and committing the United States to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords. During my first 100 days as president, I’ll introduce 100% Clean Energy For America legislation that will set bold and ambitious sector-specific standards to power our economy with clean energy, and create millions of good new union jobs. I have adopted and built on Governor Inslee’s ten-year action plan to achieve 100% clean energy for Americans by decarbonizing our electricity, our vehicles, and our buildings. To do so, I’ve committed to spend $1 trillion to subsidize the consumer transition to clean and renewable electricity, zero emission vehicles, and green products for commercial and residential buildings. This investment is fully paid for by reversing Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and giant corporations. We have the technology today to start to construct a cleaner grid, to modernize our auto industry, and to green our communities. My Green Apollo program will provide $400 billion over ten years to fund the research and develop the technology we need to go the final mile. And my Green Manufacturing plan commits $1.5 trillion over ten years for the federal procurement of clean, green, American-made products. By 2028, we’ll attain 100% zero-carbon pollution for all new commercial and residential buildings. By 2030, we’ll reach 100% zero emissions for all new light-duty passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks, and all buses. And by 2035, we will achieve 100% clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy in electricity generation. And altogether my ideas for a Green New Deal will create 10.6 million new green jobs. You can read more about my plans to defeat the climate crisis here: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/climate-change.
Q82: Will your Administration address the disproportionate environmental and climate change impacts in communities of color and those of lower income?
Biden: Yes. Everyone is already feeling the effects of climate change, but the impacts – on health, economics, and overall quality of life – are far more acute on communities of color, tribal lands, and low-income communities. I will reinstate federal protections, rolled back by the Trump Administration, that were designed to protect communities. And, I will make it a priority for all agencies to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income, and indigenous communities. View details of that plan HERE
Bloomberg: Yes. Mike has a comprehensive plan to help American communities address the impacts of climate change and investing making neighborhoods and infrastructure more resilient, prioritizing the most vulnerable. Communities of color, low-income communities, and disabled Americans are too often hurt first and worst when it comes to environmental impacts and climate disasters. Mike’s plan includes–
- Creating a new Climate-Safe Communities program to invest in community supported resilience projects to address the risks of storms, floods, and other impacts, as well as a Cooler Communities to reduce and cope with hotter urban temperatures.
- Protecting natural areas like wetlands and floodplains that can reduce the impacts of floods and drought, as well as offer communities access to open space.
- Protect critical infrastructure like health care facilities, telecommunications, and the energy system.
Buttigeig: Yes. My administration will provide communities at the front lines of climate change and other environmental disasters the tools to benefit from the transition into a clean economy. Black, Latino, Native American and communities of color are particularly harmed by extreme weather, like hurricanes and flooding, and are often less able to recover post-disaster. Seniors and people with disabilities are also impacted in unique and dramatic ways, such as difficulty finding accessible transportation to evacuate or keeping in touch with caregivers after emergencies. In addition to the creation of Health Equity Zones introduced in our Douglass Plan (https://peteforamerica.com/policies/douglass-plan/), our agenda to combat institutional racism in our country, we will deploy community-centric resources–including resilient transportation options and community solar–so those without a rooftop or car can access locally-sourced clean energy and accessible public buses, subways, and low-cost share systems. In addition, my administration will establish a community-centered Disaster Commission to make recommendations to streamline the process for disaster preparedness and recovery and ensure equity. We will direct agencies to guarantee that any post-emergency recovery improves equity for Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities.
De La Fuente: Yes. Absolutely, as I stated before, the racist and discriminatory history of our past will be addressing you privately.
Klobuchar: Yes. Senator Klobuchar believes vulnerable communities are currently experiencing a disproportionate share of the effects of climate change and is committed to leaving no one behind through investments in climate adaptation and support for frontline communities. As President, she will make sure vulnerable communities are a key part of all decision- making, create tax incentives and increase federal funding to invest in infrastructure and jobs in communities that are most directly experiencing the effects of climate change, invest in affordable housing that promotes climate resilience and mitigation, strengthen LIHEAP and SNAP to protect the most vulnerable Americans, and end the Stafford Act prohibition that prevents disaster funding from being used for significant infrastructure improvements.
Sanders: Yes. The Green New Deal is not only a serious climate plan, but an opportunity to uproot historical injustices and inequities to advance social, racial, and economic justice, including redressing the exclusion of black, brown, Native American, and other vulnerable communities from the programs that made up the original New Deal. We will enact a Green New Deal to end the scourge of environmental racism that disproportionately plagues low-income communities of color. Black Americans are 1.5 more likely to be exposed to air pollutants than their white peers. African American children are more likely to develop asthma than non-Latino whites. When Bernie is in the White House, we will enact a Green New Deal not just to save the planet, but to protect our most impacted communities, who have been collateral damage to the greed of big oil CEO for far too long. Bernie will ensure justice for frontline communities to recover from, and prepare for, the climate impacts, including through a Climate Justice Resiliency Fund. We will also provide those frontline and fenceline communities a just transition including good-paying jobs, resilient infrastructure, economic development.
Steyer: Yes. My Justice Centered Climate Plan dedicates $2 trillion in federal funding over ten years, mobilizing trillions more in-private capital, to long-overdue investments in America’s infrastructure, including investments in clean transportation, water, operational systems, the energy grid, farms and rural development, building retrofits, maintenance, affordable housing, universal broadband, and more. We will lift up local voices and build a Civilian Climate Corps — a combined service, training, and job creation effort — to implement tailored solutions specific to the needs of individual communities. I will protect residents’ rights to self-determination as investments are made in their communities, ensuring that people living in areas heavily burdened by pollution and climate impacts are not displaced by development. And I will protect the right of individuals to return to their communities if they have been displaced by climate-related disasters by creating a federal rent replacement insurance fund for victims of climate-related disasters. I will support increasing support for affordable housing, transit-oriented development, home ownership, and protections against displacement.
My work on climate began in local communities impacted by the climate crisis in Northern California. I understand that communities of color are more often adversely affected by the impacts and causes of climate change, and I will work to address this by creating an Environmental Justice Division in the Department of Justice. This division’s roles will include clearly defining criteria for acts of environmental racism, ensuring equal protection against environmental harms, and prosecuting environmental civil rights violations in actions under every agency’s jurisdiction.
Warren: Yes. The Green New Deal commits us to a fair and just transition for all communities and workers—and that means recognizing that climate change doesn’t affect every community equally. Black, indigenous, and other people of color, as well as lower-income communities, have often borne the brunt of climate change and other environmental harms. At the same time, communities dependent on the fossil fuel economy worry about what this transition will mean for their jobs. Justice must be at the center of our response to climate change, which is why I’ve committed to elevating an environmental justice council to report directly to the White House. But we won’t create true justice by cleaning up polluted neighborhoods and tweaking a few regulations at the EPA. We need to prioritize communities that have experienced historic disinvestment, across their range of needs: affordable housing, better infrastructure, good schools, access to health care, and good jobs. We need affordable energy and clean drinking water—for everyone. We need strong, resilient communities, prepared and properly resourced to withstand the impacts of climate change. I’ve committed to an equity screen to direct one-third of my proposed climate investment into the most vulnerable communities—a commitment that would funnel at least $1 trillion into these areas over the next decade. I also believe we need to create processes centered on and led by those living on the front lines of climate change, who know best what their communities need. The task before us is huge—it will require millions of workers to complete massive retrofits to our nation’s infrastructure and our manufacturing base. It will also require readjusting our economic approach to ensure that Black communities and others who have been systematically harmed from our fossil fuel economy are not left further behind during the transition to clean energy. We cannot succeed in fighting climate change unless the people who have the skills to get the job done are in the room—as full partners. And as president, I will prioritize programs to empower workers who may be hurt by the transition to a more green economy, including those currently employed in the fossil fuel industry. That means providing them with financial security—including early retirement benefits, job training, union protections, and guaranteeing wage and benefit parity for affected workers. You can read more about my plan to fight for justice as we combat the climate crisis here: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/environmental-justice