Scrappy Green Groups Continue Siding With Sanders Over Clinton

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Chris White Tech Reporter
Font Size:

Some green activists are still spouting support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Democratic presidential candidacy even after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached the delegate threshold for nomination.

Large environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council, and the League of Conservation Voters are starting to see the light. They’re moving away from Sanders, who has campaigned hard on an anti-fossil fuel platform, to presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Clinton, who has supported natural gas in the past.

Yet there are a handful of plucky green groups and activists sticking to Sanders.

“The nomination actually hasn’t been decided yet,” Brad Johnson, executive director of Climate Hawks Vote Civic Action, told Think Progress Thursday. Johnson, whose group works to get climate justice warriors elected to federal office, went on to say that he and his group are staying with Sanders until Democratic National Convention in July.

One of the reasons for sticking with Sanders, Johnson added, is because of the Vermont senator’s “strong climate platform and his strong emphasis on climate in his campaign.”

Johnson led a campaign in April to “ban fracking in the Democratic platform,” arguing in a petition filed with that the massive Porter Ranch methane blowout, which started in October and was capped in February, was a result of the supposedly ill-conceived natural gas policies pushed by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Following in Johnson’s footsteps is environmental group Friends of the Earth Action — which became one of the first major environmental groups to endorse Sanders. Friends of the Earth maintains a smaller membership and overall presence in the environmental movement than Sierra Club, but still has influence among Sanders supporters.

Benjamin Schreiber, Friends of the Earth Action’s climate and energy program director, told reporters the group is staying hitched to Sanders primarily because he has “changed the dialogue about the presidential election.”

One of Sanders’s most important cheerleaders, activist Bill McKibben, who has all but turned anti-fracking activism into a cottage industry, has not wavered in his support for the senator either; Sanders chose McKibben to be on the Democratic national convention drafting committee. This after the Democratic National Committee brokered a deal in May with the two presidential candidates so Clinton will pick six members on the platform committee, while Sanders will pick five.

“I’m for Bernie Sanders,” McKibben wrote in an editorial in May. “I helped introduce him the day he launched his campaign in Vermont; I’ve written letters and given speeches on his behalf. Partly that’s because he’s a fellow Vermonter, and Vermont is a small enough state that if he were in any way a phony, he’d have been found out long ago.”

Clinton’s promotion of hydraulic fracking as secretary of state is well documented. The former secretary of state called natural gas “the cleanest fossil fuel available for power generation today,” during a 2009 speech in front of the Inter-American Development Bank.

And recently obtained emails show how the Department of State worked closely with private sector oil and gas companies to lobby the White House to commit resources to promoting hydraulic fracking. Clinton’s State Department acquired technical assistance with the science of finding shale reserves and helping allied nations find investment for new natural gas development projects. It also helped advise world leaders on the benefits of fracking, and organized tours to fracking sites in the U.S. to make it a role model for fracking around the world.

Meanwhile, larger green groups appear more willing to buck the concerns laid out by Friends of The Earth and McKibben, and overlook Clinton’s past support for fracking.

“We are fully aware that we need to both work our hearts out between now and November, and that our movement will have to simultaneously support and challenge a president Clinton were she to make the oval office,” Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune said.

The Sierra Club was once a reliable ally to the natural gas industry, going so far as to accept more than $25 million from former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, who was killed in a car wreck in March, so it could push the U.S. away from coal and toward cleaner forms of fuel.

The group’s former executive director, Carl Pope, traveled with McClendon across the country in 2009 promoting the benefits of natural gas and hydraulic fracking.

“Use renewables as much as we can. Natural gas is the next-cleanest fuel, then we have oil and then we have coal, ” Pope told energy magazine Oil & Gas Investor. Sierra Club eventually ended its relationship with McClendon in 2010.

Another huge environmental group — the League of Conservation Voters — tossed its support behind Clinton over Sanders, calling Clinton “the most effective leader to stand up to Big Polluters and push forward an aggressive plan to tackle climate change and get it done.”

Follow Chris on Facebook and Twitter

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact