Biden signs pledge against fossil fuel donations ahead of first debate

Biden signs pledge against fossil fuel donations ahead of first debate
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden compares Trump to George Wallace Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' CNN Democratic debate drawing finishes third in cable news ratings race MORE signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge Thursday to vow he would not take any donations for his White House bid from the PACs, lobbyists or executives of fossil fuel companies. 

Biden had initially said he would sign the pledge early this month when he unveiled his plan to tackle climate change. He is the 20th Democratic candidate to sign.

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“We congratulate Vice President Biden and Senator Bennet for signing the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge and for this example of climate leadership that prioritizes people over polluters. Rejecting the fossil fuel industry’s money has become standard practice among Democratic presidential contenders, and not a moment too soon,” David Turnbull, strategic communications director of Oil Change U.S., which helped coordinate the pledge, said in a press release.

Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE (D-Colo.), another presidential contender, signed the pledge Tuesday.

Biden’s signing comes just hours ahead of his appearance at the first Democratic primary debate where nine other candidates are expected to try to cut him down from his front-runner status in the crowded field.

The former vice president, a centrist in a primary pack dominated by progressives, has been on the receiving end of veiled swipes from his opponents and outright criticism from several advocacy groups over his record in the Senate.

He most recently garnered controversy over his comments touting his ability to work with two segregationist senators during his time in Congress.

He also faced criticism earlier this year when a Biden adviser spoke of the need to find a "middle ground" to climate change, with many progressives calling on the former vice president to back the Green New Deal.

However, Biden ended up garnering praise for his environmental plan, which the Sunrise Movement called “a comprehensive climate plan that cites the Green New Deal and names climate change as the greatest challenge facing America and the world.”