Where the Democratic Candidates Stand on Climate Change and Public Lands


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June 5, 2019

With polls showing Democratic primary voters want fast action on climate change, some candidates are already positioning themselves to get ahead of the pack. A growing number of presidential contenders are focusing on the role public lands and conservation can play in addressing climate change, and rightfully so.
More than 20% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from energy development on public lands – an amount that would rank public lands as the 5th largest emitter in the world if it were a country. And given the federal government manages the nation’s public lands, it’s something that could be an immediate starting point to any political party’s platform to address climate change.
Here’s a look at the Democratic candidates who have public lands playing a role in their climate change policies/ideologies:

Senator Michael Bennet 
*Make a national commitment to conserve 30% of America’s lands and oceans by 2030
*Accelerate permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands and waters, with goal of increasing renewable energy capacity to 150 gigawatts by 2030, enough to power nearly 45 million homes

Joe Biden
*Halt new oil and gas permitting on federally managed public lands and waters while modifying energy royalties to account for climate costs; increase development of renewable energy projects
*Permanently protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other public lands and waters and other areas impacted under the Trump administration
*Conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by the year 2030, helping to protect species and slow rates of extinction amid climate change impacts
*Establish national monuments and parks that protect America’s natural heritage
*Ensure that federal infrastructure investments reduce emissions that drive climate change; require federal permitting decisions to consider the effects of the activities on climate change
Representative Tulsi Gabbard
*Sponsored the “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act,” a climate bill that would phase out fossil fuel energy sources by 2035 and calls for an end to subsidies for drilling, mining and refining companies
*Her bill supports programs to help fossil fuel workers get jobs in renewable energy industries
*Halt fracking and offshore drilling

John Hickenlooper
*Has admonished Trump for expanding drilling on federal land, but has not made a public statement on public lands management and climate
Governor Jay Inslee 
*Stop new leases and end existing non-producing leases on both on- and offshore fossil fuel extraction
*Preserving and restoring public lands and natural ecosystems
*Expand EPA and NOA programs that improve coastal management, give USDA leading role in enhancing ecosystems services
*Create a “G.I. Bill” for impacted workers and coal community reinvestment, programs to spur growth in rural communities – support frontline, low-income, and indigenous communities, and communities of color
Beto O’Rourke
*Require any federal permitting decision to fully account for climate costs and community impacts
*Set a first-ever, net-zero emissions by 2030 carbon budget for federal lands, halting new fossil fuel leases, changing royalties to reflect climate costs, and accelerating renewable energy development and forestation
*Reduce methane leakage from existing sources in the oil and natural gas industry
*Protect our most wild, beautiful, and biodiverse places for generations to come — including more of the Arctic and of our sensitive landscapes and seascapes than ever before
Senator Bernie Sanders 
*Transform the federal energy system away from fossil fuels to 100% energy efficiency and sustainable energy
*Halt fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure on public lands
*Invest in infrastructure and programs to protect the frontline communities most vulnerable to extreme climate impacts like wildfires, sea level rise, drought, floods, and extreme weather like hurricanes
Senator Elizabeth Warren
*Unveiled her plan for public lands, “making our public lands part of the climate solution – not the problem”
*Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by halting new fossil fuel lease sales on public lands (including drilling offshore and onshore) and reinstating the federal requirements to limit methane waste
*10% of U.S. energy from renewables on public lands and offshore
*Make Land and Water Conservation Fund spending mandatory to ensure continued preservation and enhancement of public lands for conservation and recreation
*Restore protections to Bears Ears and Grands Staircase monuments and any other national monuments targeted by this Administration
 **Candidates who have indicated they would support a freeze on new fossil fuel leasing on public lands**
Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Tim Ryan
**Candidates who support a Green New Deal **
Julián Castro, Senator Kamala Harris, Representative Eric Swalwell, Andrew Yang

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