Bernie Sanders on Environment
Democratic primary challenger; Independent VT Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)
SANDERS: Well, it's one of many issues that we have to deal with in terms of the environment. You've seen the pictures of our oceans where there are tons and tons of plastics, where whales wash up onshore and they have all this horrible plastic in it. So this is one of the many environmental crises that we are facing. There is an enormous amount of pollution of all kinds that's now taking place in America. It's not just Flint, Michigan. There are hundreds of communities where people cannot get clean drinking water. So we've got a major environmental crisis. And then we've got a president who has converted the Environmental Protection Agency into the Non-Environmental Protection Agency. He's doing exactly the wrong thing, deregulating polluters. So this is a major issue that we have got to deal with. And as president, I certainly will.
SANDERS: We got a heck of a lot of nuclear waste, which is going to stay around for many thousands of years. We don't know how to get rid of it right now. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me to add more dangerous waste when we don't know how to get rid of what we have right now. Number two, it costs a lot more to build a new nuclear power plant today than it does to go to solar or to go to wind. So I think that it is safer and more cost effective to move to sustainable energies like wind, solar, and geothermal, and not nuclear.
Q: Can you go carbon neutral without nuclear in the short term?
SANDERS: I think you can. And I think the scientists tell us, in fact, that we can. And I think if you talk to the people in Japan in terms of what happened at Fukushima, talk to the people in Russia what happened in Chernobyl, they may not feel so comfortable with nuclear power.
Q: How would you implement those changes?
SANDERS: We have the absurd situation where FEMA will only pay to repair a facility or a piece of infrastructure where it was before it was destroyed. That's pretty stupid. I mean, if it was destroyed once and you rebuild it, it's destroyed twice, it doesn't make a lot of sense to put it there again. So the answer is, absolutely.
Q: So would people in coastal communities, have a house right on the beach, would they have to move?
SANDERS: Well, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to rebuild that house so that it is knocked down again in the next storm. You do your best through carrots and sticks at the federal level. But if people want to rebuild in an area which will be devastated by the next storm, they're certainly not going to get any federal assistance from my administration to do that.
A: Sanders's campaign said he opposed nuclear development but did not provide an on-the-record quote.
SANDERS: The issue goes well beyond that problem. Climate change is already devastating, and yet we have a president and a head of the EPA who do not even recognize reality of climate change. And over the last number of years we have made success against air pollution and against water pollution. We have made some success in transforming our energy system. And the idea to go back and listen to the short term needs of the coal industry or the oil industry makes no sense to me at all. Look, here is the truth. What the scientific community is telling us is that climate change is one of the great environmental crises facing this planet. And if we don't get a handle on that, we're going to leave a planet to our kids that is not healthy or habitable. We've got to address that. The Trump administration is moving in exactly the wrong direction.
SANDERS: Well, that's what the CIA and the Department of Defense tell us. If we are going to see an increase in drought and flooding and extreme weather as a result of climate change, what that means is that peoples all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources. When you have drought, when people can't grow their crops, they're going to migrate into cities. And when people migrate into cities, and they don't have jobs, there's going to be a lot more instability, a lot more unemployment. And people will be subject to the types of propaganda that al Qaeda and ISIS are using right now. I think, when we talk about all of the possible ravages of climate change, which, to my mind, is just a huge planetary crisis, increased international conflict is one of the issues that we have got to appreciate will happen.
A: While Bernie isn't against GMOs, Bernie says, "when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child." People have the right to know what is in their food so that they can decide on whether or not they want to consume it. The FDA already requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives, & processes in our food; it makes sense that people should know if their food contains GMOs.
[Our Mayoral campaign poster] boldly proclaimed, "Burlington is not for sale." Our campaign reminded the people of Burlington that the incumbent mayor and his local Democratic machine were in cahoots with the downtown business community and irresponsible "pro-growth" forces, and out of touch with the concerns of the average citizen. My basic campaign message was that if I were elected mayor, I would open City Hall to ALL the people. I would run the city by responding to the best interests of working people, low-income people, and the middle-class --the very folks who had largely been frozen out of the decision-making process.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Mr. WHITEHOUSE: This measure was part of the RESTORE Act, [but] this piece of it fell out of the bargain. If you supported the RESTORE Act, you have already supported this bill. If you believe that deals should be deals in the Senate, then you should support this bill. It is very important that we as a body support this bill. It does not create a single extra bureaucracy or person. It works within the existing government, and it adds no funding.
MississippiRiverDelta.org Summary of RESTORE Act: The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) dedicates 80% of all Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast restoration.
Proponent's press release supporting Yes vote: The National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes Act would provide steady funding that universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies can count on every year to support research and restoration projects. It would be funded primarily by dedicating 12.5% of revenues from offshore energy development, including oil, gas, and renewable energy. Revenue is generated through offshore lease sales and production based royalty payments. Funds from the Endowment would be distributed through a competitive grant program to fund projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41): In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.
Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.
Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. CRAIG: "Eminent domain was elevated greatly as an issue following a highly controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision known as Kelo vs. The City of New London. Since that decision, we as a nation have allowed state & local governments to utilize eminent domain to force landowners to yield their property to private development. Farmers and ranchers in particular have become vulnerable to state and local governments taking their property for economic development or open space designations. My amendment is a very targeted amendment. It addresses only cases in which private working agricultural land is taken and turned into public open space."
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. HARKIN: This amendment doesn't reach the Kelo decision [because Kelo was about taking open space for private development]. Under this amendment they can still do that.
CRAIG. Oh, I disagree totally. We reach a portion of Kelo that is now most frequently impacting farms and ranches, and that is open space for open space.
HARKIN. The amendment has the Federal Government telling a local government what it can and cannot do within its own jurisdiction.
Letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures & US Conference of Mayors:
"This amendment is not only ill-advised, but it is also unconstitutional [because it] preempts state & local land use laws. The 5th Amendment expressly permits the taking of private property for public use provided just compensation is provided to the owner. The power of eminent domain has always been, and should remain, a state and local power."
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness; never came to a vote.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.
To assist in the conservation of rare felids and rare canids by supporting and providing financial resources for the conservation programs of nations within the range of rare felid and rare canid populations and projects of persons with demonstrated expertise in the conservation of rare felid and rare canid populations. Congress finds the following:
Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions by individuals and corporations of real property interests for conservation purposes. Known in the Senate as the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2009.
Congressional Summary:Amends the Animal Welfare Act to define a "high volume retail breeder" as a person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit: has an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs; and sells more than 50 of the offspring of such dogs for use as pets in any one-year period. Considers such a breeder of dogs to be a dealer.
Promulgates requirements for the exercise of dogs at facilities owned or operated by high volume retail breeders, including requiring daily access to exercise that allows the dogs to move sufficiently in a way that is not forced, repetitive, or restrictive; and is in an area that is spacious, cleaned at least once a day, free of infestation by pests or vermin, and designed to prevent the dogs from escaping.
Opponent's Comments (GSDCA, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America):In the past, legislation has excluded home/hobby breeders. This bill would, for the first time, require home/hobby breeders to follow the strict USDA requirements, such as engineering standards designed for large commercial kennels and not homes. Such regulations would exceedingly difficult to meet in a home/residential breeding environment. If passed, PUPS would disastrously reduce purposely-bred pups for the public.
There is nothing in this bill that changes the status of already known substandard kennel violators. There is no increase in funding for additional inspectors, nor is increased inspection evaluation education included.
Dogs purposely bred for showing, trialing or other events often are not bred for several years due to many different reasons. Some of these dogs may never be bred, yet are included in the count.
Working kennels maintain a large dog population while they are evaluating dogs; if the dogs do not work out for the purpose for which they were intended, they are often sold as pets. This could bring those working/training kennels under USDA regulations.
The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act prohibits:
112th Mid-Term Humane Scorecard: The Humane Society Legislative Fund has posted the final version of the 2011 Humane Scorecard, where you can track the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during last year. We rated legislators based on their voting behavior on measures such as agribusiness subsidies, lethal predator control, and the Endangered Species Act; their cosponsorship of priority bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, animal fighting, and chimps in research; their support for funding the enforcement of animal welfare laws; and their leadership on animal protection. All of the priority bills whose cosponsorships we're counting enjoy strong bipartisan support; in the House, each of the four now has more than 150 cosponsors.
The Humane Scorecard is not a perfect measuring tool, but creating some reasonable yardstick and allowing citizens to hold lawmakers accountable is central to our work. When the Humane Scorecard comes out each year, it helps clarify how the animal protection movement is doing geographically, by party affiliation, and in other categories. It helps us chart our course for animals by seeing where we have been effective, and where we need to improve.
Discussion of pro/con (Huffington Post 4/25/2013):
Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans--over 90%--supports mandatory labeling of foods with GE ingredients. 64 other countries already require such labels. However, strong opposition from the agriculture and biotech industries has scuttled proposals for GMO (Genetically-Modified Organisms) labeling laws in the past. The most recent and high-profile of these failed attempts at a GMO labeling requirement was California's Proposition 37, which was narrowly defeated after opponents spent $50 million lobbying against it. "Unfortunately, advocates of mandatory GMO labeling are working an agenda to vilify biotechnology and scare consumers away from safe and healthful food products," a Biotechnology Industry Organization spokeswoman wrote.
Argument in opposition (Food Democracy Now 5/26/2012):
Exactly 20 years ago today, the first Bush administration declared genetically engineered foods to be "substantially equivalent" to foods that farmers had traditionally bred for thousands of years. With this single policy, the US government radically altered the food supply, introducing novel genes into our food that had never before been consumed by humans. Corporate executives at Monsanto colluded with elected officials to make sure that their new "products" were placed onto the market as quickly as possible. Two decades later, Americans are still denied the basic right to know what's in their food because of this infamous policy.
Sen. CANTWELL. I reintroduce today the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. This legislation has won the unanimous approval of the Senate several times, but unfortunately has not yet reached the finish line.
There is no doubt, animal fighting is terribly cruel. Dogs and roosters are drugged to make them hyper-aggressive and forced to keep fighting even after suffering severe injuries such as punctured eyes and pierced lungs. It's all done for "entertainment" and illegal gambling. Some dogfighters steal pets to use as bait for training their dogs, while others allow trained fighting dogs to roam neighborhoods and endanger the public.
The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act will strengthen current law by making the interstate transport of animals for the purpose of fighting a felony and increase the punishment to three years of jail time. This is necessary because the current misdemeanor penalty has proven ineffective--considered a "cost of doing business" by those in the animal fighting industry which continues unabated nationwide.
These enterprises depend on interstate commerce, as evidenced by the animal fighting magazines that advertise and promote them. Our bill also makes it a felony to move cockfighting implements in interstate or foreign commerce. These are razor-sharp knives known as "slashers" and ice pick-like gaffs designed exclusively for cockfights and attached to the birds' legs for fighting.
This is long overdue legislation. It's time to get this felony animal fighting language enacted. It's time for Congress to strengthen the federal law so that it can provide as a meaningful deterrent against animal fighting. Our legislation does not expand the federal government's reach into a new area, but simply aims to make current law more effective. It is explicitly limited to interstate and foreign commerce, so it protects states' rights in the two states where cockfighting is still allowed.
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V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
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Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
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Gov.Lincoln Chafee (L-RI)
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