Democratic candidates engage in lengthy debate over climate change

Democratic candidates engage in lengthy debate over climate change
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Democratic presidential candidates discussed climate change at length on the debate stage Wednesday night, addressing energy sources ranging from natural gas to lithium batteries.

White House hopefuls fielded questions on the topic for 15 minutes, dwarfing the amount of time devoted to environmental issues at earlier debates.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenInequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Thomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE (D-Mass.) slightly walked back from her pledge to stop mining and oil and gas drilling on public lands.


“You got to have lithium, you got to have copper for renewable energy. How do you do that?” moderator Jon Ralston asked her, referring to minerals needed to make batteries.

“If we need to make exceptions because there are specific minerals that we've got to have access to, then we would locate those. And we do it not in a way that is just about the profits of giant industries, but in a way that is sustainable for the environment. We cannot continue to let our public lands be used for profits by those who don't care about our environment,” Warren replied.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift In defense of incrementalism: A call for radical realism MORE (I-Vt.) touted his recently introduced bill that calls for a ban on fracking for both oil and gas.

While discussing natural gas, both Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (D-Minn.) and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE cited the fuel as a bridge to renewables.

“We're not going to be able to pass this unless we bring people with us,” Klobuchar said, referencing the numerous climate plans from candidates.


Warren, however, accused Klobuchar of “thinking smaller,” arguing that anti-corruption measures and ending the filibuster would also be needed to battle climate change.

“If you’re not willing to roll back the filibuster, then you're giving the fossil fuel industry veto over all that we work on,” Warren said.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly MORE argued that the differences between plans to achieve carbon neutrality are less important than taking action of some kind on climate.

“Let's be real about the deadline. It's not 2050, it's not 2040, it’s not 2030. It’s 2020, because if we don't elect a president who actually believes in climate science now we will never meet any of the other scientific or policy deadlines we need to,” he said.

The extended focus on climate change during the debate comes after environmental groups have repeatedly argued for a climate-themed debate after the topic was given short shrift in earlier debates.