Harris VP Choice Signals Tougher Stance on Pollution Under Biden

By bringing U.S. Senator Kamala Harris onto the ticket, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has signaled support for the enforcement of U.S. anti-pollution laws and for suing companies that pollute, environmental groups said.

Biden emphasized Harris’ environmental credentials when he announced the senator from California as his choice for vice president on Tuesday, noting lawsuits she had launched both as San Francisco’s district attorney from 2004 to 2011 and then as the state’s attorney general until January 2017.

“As Attorney General, Kamala sued corporations like Chevron and BP for damaging the environment, and won,” said a fact sheet detailing Harris’ experience released by Biden’s campaign. The sheet also noted that Harris had sued companies for their alleged roles in exposing Californians to excessive levels of diesel exhaust.

Over the last month, Harris has sought to highlight how low-income and minority communities are disproportionately affected by pollution. Last week, Harris co-sponsored legislation with U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that would require federal agencies to consider impacts of U.S. environmental legislation on all communities equally, a concept known as environmental justice.

Biden also has pledged that his $2 trillion plan for combatting climate change would support environmental justice by directing clean energy spending toward communities living in the shadow of refineries and power plants.

But Harris has gone beyond Biden’s climate position in some ways. As a presidential candidate herself last year, she was an early endorser of the progressive Green New Deal, a congressional platform that envisions a 10-year, government-led process for decarbonizing the economy. 

“Her stance on polluter accountability and stopping handouts to the fossil fuel industry are at the top of the list for the climate voter,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, environmental group 350.org’s director of North America.

Harris also said she would ban fracking natural gas in the United States, making her an early target of President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign team.

“She is against fracking,” Trump said in the White House briefing room on Tuesday. “I mean, how do you do that and go into Pennsylvania or Ohio or Oklahoma or the great state of Texas? She is against fracking; fracking is a big deal.”

Natural gas accounts for more than a third of U.S. electricity generation, but has come under increasing scrutiny due to the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, involved both in fracking the gas and in burning it in power plants.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, both Republicans, also blasted Harris on Tuesday for threatening fracking jobs.

“Every worker who is working on a pipeline or working on an oil field, they’re going to do everything they can to take those jobs away,” Cruz said of Biden and Harris.

But environmentalists and Democrats praised Harris for her record as a foe to the fossil fuel executives.

“Senator Harris has a record of taking Big Oil and other polluters to court for the damage they have caused, even proposing giving the Department of Justice enhanced power to prosecute polluters,” said Jamal Raad, campaign director of the political action group Evergreen Action.

Green campaigners say Harris’ biggest environmental victory as state attorney general was in 2016, when a grand jury indicted Plains All American Pipeline LP on criminal charges related to an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California.

That same year, Harris also reportedly launched an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil Corp lied to the public and to shareholders about the risks of climate change, though her office has never confirmed the probe. Since then both New York and Massachusetts have made similar arguments in lawsuits filed against the oil company. Exxon prevailed in December in its legal battle with New York over claims it had misled investors about climate change.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Katy Daigle and Matthew Lewis)

Responses

  1. Ken – not all people have been able to breath clean air or drink clean water in the United States. There are plenty of people – typically low income – who are impacted.

    I even lived in WY for several years – there were a couple towns where I was told not to drink the tap water under any circumstance when i was traveling.

    Just because YOU never had a problem doesn’t mean those around you don’t.

  2. The over reach by the EPA and draconian environmental laws are one of the main reasons US jobs went overseas.
    Not just because of cheap labor as most people believe.
    We all seemed to have been able to breath the air and drink the water over the last three and a half years.
    Green energy is a farce.
    Wind generators take fossil fuels to get them started, bet you didn’t know that.
    Yep, a motor using fossil fuels gets the thing up to speed before cutting off.
    they also knock down and kill thousands of birds every year.
    But the Eco-freaks will protest an ameba dying off if a pipeline passes through it’s swamp.
    Solar panels, battery production and the disposal of those products produce toxic waste.
    Putting a battery charger in every home for electric cars will put an excessive burden on the power grids of the nation.
    Changing millions of home from gas and oil heat to electric heat will cost home owners billions and burden the power grid even more.
    I could go on and on.
    I do separate my trash, turn off every light when I leave the room, drive a fuel efficient car (35mpg), have a high SEER AC unit, R50 insulation in my attic and recycle all my beer cans.

  3. Did anyone else notice that the power went out at the DE school where Hidin’ Biden and his presidential choice debuted?

    Hmm. Wonder what the back-up generators were running on? Fossil fuels?

    Is this debut symbolic of what the US will be like if these anti-science, enviro pinheads take power?

  4. Something for Biden and Harris to consider:
    1. Higher-energy prices, whether for electricity, heating gas, or at the pump will hurt the poor and middle-class first. Con artists like Al Gore will continue to heat their swimming pools.
    2. Eliminating fracking will eliminate 19 million jobs, destroy local economies, and once again make the US dependent on foreign sources who hate us.
    3. It’s ironic that the Dims have selected two persons from their coastal, Blue enclaves, CA and DE. How is that going to win the “flyover” states the Dims neglect or represent the huge # of people not in the enclaves?

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