O'Rourke signs pledge not to accept fossil fuel money

O'Rourke signs pledge not to accept fossil fuel money
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeDemocrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate Campaign dads fit fatherhood between presidential speeches MORE signed a pledge not to take campaign donations from fossil fuel companies.

The former Texas congressman also returned all donations he has received since launching his campaign that don't meet the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge's requirements, his campaign said in a statement Wednesday. 

The pledge, started by the youth climate organization Sunrise Movement, asks candidates and politicians to "reject contributions from fossil fuel executives, lobbyists and their front groups and protect our health, climate, and democracy instead."

“We don’t take PAC money or accept help from corporations, lobbyists, and special interests but given the enormity of climate change, the greatest threat we face, we want to go further and be clear about where we stand as we all come together to build the largest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen," O’Rourke said in a statement.

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The move is a reversal from last month, when O'Rourke reportedly refused to sign the pledge. 

"If you work in the oil fields, you answer the phones in the office, if you’re one of my fellow Texans in one of our state’s largest employers, we’re not going to single you out from being unable to participate in our democracy," O'Rourke said at a campaign stop in Virginia, Bloomberg News reported.

O'Rourke has faced criticism from progressives over donations to his past political campaigns from the oil and gas industry.

He joins other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders in signing the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), according to the Sunrise Movement's website

The Sunrise Movement praised O'Rourke for signing the pledge.

"This wouldn’t have happened if not for Sunrisers across the country who asked him repeatedly to sign the pledge & stand w/ our generation," the group tweeted. "We applaud Beto for being responsive to the concerns of youth across the nation."

"So far, over 1400 candidates have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge nationwide, including 12 of 20 presidential candidates," the group said in a statement. "Any candidate who wants to be taken seriously by our generation needs to sign the pledge and back the Green New Deal."

Earlier this week, O'Rourke announced a climate change plan calling for the U.S. to invest $5 trillion over the next decade to try to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

--Updated 8:36 p.m.