Western 2020 Democrats Knocked by Greenpeace, While Top-Tier Candidates Receive Praise
Environmental group Greenpeace recently graded the 2020 Democratic presidential field and western candidates did not fare well, while those in the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest received extensive praise from the group.
Greenpeace scored the candidates on their willingness to support the Green New Deal and phase out fossil fuel production. The group also examined the candidates’ specific plans on addressing climate change and achieving 100 percent renewable energy.
The two western candidates, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, were given harsh reviews. Of the 19 Democrats assessed by the group, they were ranked 17th and 19th respectively.
Bullock was complimented by the group for calling the Green New Deal “aspirational” and for his willingness to stay in the Paris Agreement, but was faulted for not introducing his own proposals to tackle climate change.
Greenpeace also criticized the Montana governor on several other issues, most prominently, his past support for the Keystone XL pipeline that would have been crucial for his state. Opposition to favored environmental polices proved costly in Greenpeace’s scorecard because Bullock opposed the Clean Power Plan and opposed a moratorium on federal coal leasing.
Giving him a D grade, Greenpeace wrapped up their review with a stinging rebuke by stating, “Gov. Bullock has a long way to go to put his record behind him.”
Fellow western governor John Hickenlooper fared worse. His support of the Green New Deal is minimal, and Greenpeace said, “he hasn’t put forward his own detailed climate plan that meets the scale of the crisis.”
Hickenlooper was then criticized for his support of hydraulic fracturing and lifting the crude oil ban along with his opposition to the Colorado ballot initiative last year that would have extended the distance oil and gas operations had to be from schools and homes.
Greenpeace gave the former Colorado governor a D- and summed up their view by stating, “Hickenlooper has a long way to go to prove his commitment to really tackle the climate crisis.”
A third western candidate, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, didn’t even feature on the Greenpeace scorecard, even though he’s polled at 1 percent or less like Bullock and Hickenlooper.
But Bennet’s past support for the Keystone XL pipeline and natural gas surely would have done him no favors with the environmental group.
In stark contrast to the western candidates, top-tier coastal Democrats were widely applauded for their support of the Green New Deal and willingness to eliminate fossil fuels.
The top candidate was Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, who has made climate change the centerpiece of his campaign. He received an A- grade based on his climate proposal that lines up with the Green New Deal and his plan to achieve 100% clean power by 2030. Inslee also wants to phrase out fossil fuel use and has said that halting new oil and gas production on public lands is a “Day One” priority.
Greenpeace applauded Inslee by stating, “Keep it up, Gov. Inslee.”
The next highest-ranking candidates are two Senators from the Northeast, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont who each received B+ grades. Both are co-sponsors of the Green New Deal in the Senate and both intend to halt new fossil fuel projects if elected. Sanders is also co-sponsoring the “Keep It In The Ground Act.”
Fellow Northeast candidates Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Joe Biden of Delaware, all received a B because of their strong support of the Green New Deal. Warren and Gillibrand received high marks for their position of moving to 100% renewable energy, although they we’re critiqued by the group for lack of specific plans. Biden was complimented for his plan to use an enforcement mechanism to achieve net-zero emissions.
The Greenpeace scorecard isn’t just a static ranking though. The group makes clear they want to push the candidates even further on climate and eliminating fossil fuels. They finish off each candidate recap with a question or statement that prompts or encourages bolder action.
The group created an interactive feature with “Praise” or “Shame” buttons for each candidate, so supporters can post on Facebook whether they think the candidate is taking bold action or needs to go further.
Climate change and ending fossil fuel use has quickly become a front-and-center issue in the Democratic primary, and Greenpeace has been active on pushing the candidates. At the top of the quiz, Greenpeace even touts the moment by stating, “Change the course of history. If we push each candidate often and altogether, we have a HUGE opportunity to make real climate action a priority this primary season.”