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For or against fossil fuel industry profits?

Sanders vs. Clinton

By Emily Lardner

WHERE DO THEY STAND? Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders
Agree climate change is a problem Yes Yes
Support a carbon tax Hasn’t said Yes
Refuse campaign contributions from fossil fuel industry No Yes
Oppose fracking To some extent Yes
Oppose Arctic drilling Yes Yes
Oppose offshore drilling No became Yes 12/15 Yes
Stop subsidizing fossil fuel industry/support fossil fuel divestment No Yes
Stop extracting fossil fuels from public lands No Yes
Oppose Keystone No became Yes 9/15 Yes

 The math hasn’t changed: as the website points out, echoing Bill McKibben’s 2012 article in Rolling Stone, “we have 5 times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We’d have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate.”

The political framework hasn’t changed: corporations have assets—reserves of oil, gas, and coal—which, if sold, produced, burned, will make life hell for all of us. The magnitude of this issue brings to stark relief the contradictions between corporate interests and the interests of the people and other living beings on the planet. Without regulation, the fossil fuel companies will go after profits, wreaking environmental havoc on everyone.

So where do the candidates stand?

The Republican candidates have no intention to regulate the fossil fuel industry—they won’t acknowledge climate change as a problem. The Democratic candidates agree it’s a problem, but their proposals to address are fundamentally different.

The differences in the candidates’ positions reflect their different commitments. As Sanders explains it, “this is every kind of issue all at once: the financial cost of climate change makes it an economic issue, its effect on clean air and water quality make it a public health problem, its role in exacerbating global conflict and terrorism makes it a national security challenge and its disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities and on our children and grandchildren make acting on climate change a moral obligation. We have got to solve this problem before it’s too late.” Clinton’s position reflects her commitment to lightly regulating the industry from which she benefits. The trouble is, while Clinton and the fossil fuel industry benefit, everyone else suffers.

Direct action in May

This May, is organizing peaceful direction actions in strategic places around the globe to “keep it in the ground” including in Anacortes, WA. As May Boeve, president of writes, “If we are to succeed in stopping the worst effects of catastrophic climate change, it will be because we have been able to keep fossil fuels in the ground. With thousands of projects proposed all over the world (even with the recent decline of coal, there are 2,400 coal-fired power plants currently under construction or being planned), the work is just getting going.” Speaking to the core issue—the regulation of the fossil fuel industry—Boeve writes:

“An economic transformation at this scale—from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy—will not happen without resistance from the powers that be. The fossil fuel industry is, after all, one of the most profitable in the history of profit, and no stranger to fights with movements. The greed fueling fossil fuel expansion is also fueling inequality on an unprecedented scale. This was apparent even before the largest leak in history revealed how the oil and gas industries take advantage of the particular scourge of offshore tax havens…

“In May, we will be mobilizing around the world with many of our partners to “break free” from fossil fuels. Breaking free from the violence and destruction of extractive industries is more urgently needed than ever, but in many places we’ll be mobilizing where we know it is hard to mobilize. For those of you who can join us, we hope you will. And for those who can’t, we hope you’ll join with us from afar—because solidarity that is global, visible, and loud is our best defense against those who would silence dissent with violence.” (

Peaceful direct action Sunday, May 14, at 9 am

The Shell and Tesoro refineries near Anacortes, WA are the largest source of carbon pollution in the Northwest and refine 47% of all the gas and diesel consumed in the region; this system must change—within years, not decades. Join us May 13th, 14th and 15th as we take mass action to Break Free from Big Oil and hasten a just transition to 100% renewable energy.

Emily Lardner lives and works in Olympia, Washington.

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