Fearing Trump, greens run to Clinton

Fearing Trump, greens run to Clinton
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Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain MORE is racking up endorsements from major environmental groups, solidifying support from the green movement for her presidential run. 

The NRDC Action Fund, the Sierra Club and the billionaire green donor Tom Steyer have all endorsed Clinton for president in the last two weeks, joining the League of Conservation Voters, which backed her in November.

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The presumptive Democratic nominee has now gotten support from nearly all of the major national environmental groups, save for Friends of the Earth Action, which endorsed Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Dems fear lasting damage from Clinton-Sanders fight MORE in August. 

To the groups backing Clinton, the choice in the 2016 election is clear: someone who would continue and expand President Obama’s aggressive environmental agenda, or Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE, who says he would undo every piece of it that he could, including the Clean Power Plan and the Paris climate agreement. 

“Secretary Clinton has a long record on the environment and is the leader we need to build on this progress made by President Obama and the climate movement,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said Thursday in announcing the group’s endorsement of Clinton.

“She has listened to the grassroots and crafted detailed plans to safeguard our climate, air, water, and public lands, to protect the most vulnerable from environmental injustice, and to continue the rapid expansion of our clean energy economy.

“Contrasted with that, we have a reckless and misinformed candidate in Donald Trump, who has called climate change a ‘hoax,’ a ‘con job,’ and a ‘concept created by the Chinese.’ ”

Tom Steyer, who heads NextGen Climate and has donated tens of millions of dollars to Democrats who want to fight climate change, had a similar take.

“Now is the time to come together to defeat Donald Trump, who is utterly unfit to be our next president,” Steyer said. “Trump’s racist rhetoric is directly offensive to our American values and his dangerous actions would threaten our children’s future in every way.” 

Adam Rome, a professor of environmental history at the University of Delaware, said greens are mobilizing like never before because they see such high stakes in this election.

“I think Trump really scares environmentalists. I can see that environmentalists would want to do everything possible to ensure that he’s not president,” Rome said.

The key concern for greens, Rome said, is preserving Obama initiatives like the Clean Power Plan that were achieved through executive authority and can largely be undone in the same way.

“Congress might still be divided or unfriendly, so executive action is really the only thing the federal government has been able to do and will be able to do on climate, barring a really big change,” Rome said.

Republicans argue Clinton’s emphasis on environmental issues over energy production will be a liability in the general election.

Core News, a project of the conservative group America Rising Squared, has lambasted Clinton’s green group endorsements. 

“Brune forgot to mention the Sierra Club’s extreme plans to end American oil and gas production,” the group wrote about that endorsement. 

It pointed out that some labor unions objected to Steyer’s alliance with the AFL-CIO, saying he sparked a “civil war” within the Democratic Party.

“Steyer and Clinton may be a good fit, though, given both have flip-flopped on energy over the years,” it said.

As for NRDC, Core News cited a GOP report saying the group had “unprecedented access” to Obama administration regulators, and played up her “dogfight” with Sanders over greens.

There’s no doubt that the power of environmentalists in the Democratic Party is on the rise, in part due to the large amounts of money they are pumping into campaigns. 

Daniel J. Weiss, a principal at Waxman Strategies and a veteran of numerous environmental and progressive groups, said that while it’s little surprise that green advocates would line up behind the Democrat, they have been more strategic with their endorsements this year.

For example, NRDC Action’s announcement came a week before the California primary. Clinton won the state, which has a strong presence of environmentalists, by more than 10 points.

“Most environmental organizations with election programs did not make presidential endorsements until there was a nominee apparent. This cycle was different,” Weiss said.

“Three organizations made early endorsements this cycle to have an impact during the primaries. This approach demonstrates that these organizations have a higher level of political sophistication,” he said.

The last major environmental holdout for Clinton is Friends of the Earth Action, which says it remains in the Sanders camp. 

“There are a lot of things to fight for,” said Erich Pica, president of the group. “There’s the platform, and there’s making sure that Secretary Clinton embraces on the campaign trail what has really excited Friends of the Earth Action and many of our supporters,” he said, noting that District of Columbia voters will still cast their ballots on Tuesday.

Pica said the organization hasn’t closed the door on a potential Clinton endorsement, and it is paying close attention to Sanders for its next moves.

But many of Friends of the Earth Action’s early issues with Clinton still remain, like her support for hydraulic fracturing, her lack of support for a carbon tax and a general feeling that she does not take a strong enough stand against fossil fuels. 

“What is absolutely certain is that we will do everything we can to make sure that Donald Trump is not president,” Pica said. “He is an existential threat to many things, including helping to solve climate change.”