Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders faced off in a presidential primary debate at the University of Michigan in Flint, on March 6, 2016. During this substantive debate some salient differences emerged between the two remaining Democratic presidential contenders.
These differences included Sander’s relatively stronger emphasis on combating climate change, and opposition to both fracking and campaign finance from the fossil fuel industry.
Both candidates pledged that they would reverse the Citizens United ruling (the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling allows powerful interests like the fossil fuel industry to disproportionately influence government. It also undermines climate legislation andfails to protect the planet from corporate influence).
COOPER: The issue of climate change has been a major talking point for both of you. I wanted to bring in Sarah Bellaire, she’s a student at the University of Michigan at Dearborn who says she’s currently undecided.
Ms. Bellaire has a question on fracking, which, for viewers, is a process of oil and gas drilling that’s led to a significant increase in American energy production and jobs, but also raises serious environmental concerns.
Sarah, your question is for Secretary Clinton, but you’ll both be able to weigh in. Sarah?
QUESTION: Fracking can lead to environmental pollution including, but not limited to, the contamination of water supply. Do you support fracking?
COOPER: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: You know, I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it — number three — unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using.
So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place. And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated. So first, we’ve got to regulate everything that is currently underway, and we have to have a system in place that prevents further fracking unless conditions like the ones that I just mentioned are met.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, you?
SANDERS: My answer — my answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, though…to Secretary Clinton’s point,
there are a number of Democratic governors in many states who say that
fracking can be done safely, and that it’s helping their economies. Are
SANDERS: I’m glad you raised the issue of climate change, because the media doesn’t talk enough about what the scientists are telling us, and that is, if we don’t get our act together… the planet that we’re gonna leave our children may not be healthy and habitable. I have introduced the most comprehensive climate change legislation in the history of the Senate, which, among other things, calls for a tax on carbon, massive investments… in energy efficiency, wind, solar and other sustainable energy. This is a crisis we have got to deal with now.
I happen to be a member of the Environmental Committee. I have talked to scientists all over the world. And what they are telling me — if we don’t get our act together, this planet could be 5 to 10 degrees warmer by the end of this century — cataclysmic problems for this planet. This is a national crisis. And I talk to scientists who tell me that fracking is doing terrible things to water systems all over this country. We have gotta be bold now. We gotta transform our energy system to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. We’ve gotta do it yesterday.
CLINTON: Well, first, let me say I think I have the most comprehensive plan to combat climate change. It sets some very big goals, a half billion more solar panels deployed by the end of my first term, if I’m so fortunate to be president. And enough clean energy to power every home by the end of my second term.
What I am looking at is how we make the transition from where we are today to where are today to where we must be. I worked with President Obama during the four years I was secretary of state to begin to put pressure on China and India and other countries to join with us to have a global agreement which we finally got in Paris.
So I am committed to and focused on how we make that transition. I’ve already said we are taking away the subsidies for oil and gas, but it is important that people understand that a president can’t go ordering folks around. Our system doesn’t permit that. I am going to set the goals. I will push everybody as hard as I can to achieve those goals. We will make progress on clean renewable energy and create millions of jobs through that.
CLINTON: We need to do more to help create clean energy as a source of good jobs
Campaign Finance from the Fossil Fuel Industry
COOPER: Secretary Clinton’s gonna be able to respond. But, Senator Sanders, you’ve been very tough lately. Last week, you said this about Secretary Clinton.
Quote, “just as I believe you can’t take on Wall Street while taking their money, I don’t believe you can take on climate change effectively while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet.”
COOPER: Are you suggesting that she’s in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry?
SANDERS: No, what I am suggesting is that we have a corrupt campaign finance system. And instead of standing up to that finance system… And instead of standing up to that finance system, Secretary Clinton has super PAC, which is raising huge amounts — well, I hate to say the word “huge,” every time I say huge it…
SANDERS: A lot of money from Wall Street and from the fossil fuel industry. I am doing it a different way. I have 5 million individual contributors who have gone to BernieSanders.com to make a $27 contribution. I don’t take money from the fossil fuel industry.
COOPER: Senator Sanders, on the — on the campaign trail, Senator Sanders often refers to a fundraiser in January that was hosted by executives from a firm that has invested significantly in domestic fracking. Do you have any comment on that?
CLINTON: I don’t have any comment. I don’t know that. I don’t believe that there is any reason to be concerned about it. I admire what Senator Sanders has accomplished in his campaign. I have more than 850,000 donors, most of them give less than $100. I am very proud of that. And I just want to make one point. You know, we have our differences. And we get into vigorous debate about issues, but compare the substance of this debate with what you saw on the Republican stage last week.
SANDERS: But here’s the difference. Here is the difference. It’s not a
personal difference. We just do things differently. All right. I
honestly — look, we have a corrupt campaign finance system. And what
Secretary Clinton is saying and what every candidate who receives from
the fossil fuel industry or the drug companies or Wall Street say, not
going to impact me. The question the American people have to ask is, why
are these people putting millions of dollars into candidates if it’s
not going to make a difference?
SANDERS: And that is why, by the way, that is why one of my top priorities, if elected president will be to overturn this outrageous Citizens United Supreme Court.
CLINTON: And that is one of the many reasons we must all support President Obama’s right to nominate a successor to Justice Scalia and demand that the Senate hold hearings and a vote on that successor because there are so many issues at stake. On the first day of my campaign, I said, we are going to reverse Citizens United. And if we can’t get it done through the court, I will lead a constitutional amendment effort to reverse it that way.
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