opinion

COLUMN: Clinton and Sanders on fossil fuels



As the race for the Democratic primary continues, civility appears to be running out for both candidates left in the contest.

The latest spat between the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is about whether or not Clinton has taken significant amounts of campaign contributions from those who work in the fossil fuel industry.

Last Thursday at a campaign event in Purchase, New York, an activist working for the environmental organization Greenpeace asked Clinton to stop accepting donations from the fossil fuel industry.

At this point Clinton stated, “I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick, I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me.”

Granted, this exchange looks as polite as a scene from the TV show Downton Abbey compared to the Republican race.

But it does raise the question of whether Clinton has accepted fossil fuel donations in the past or not.

Clinton has received money from people who work in oil and gas industries, but Sanders has 
as well.

And both of them have received very little in general from the industry in comparison to their Republican colleagues.

“The Clinton campaign has received nearly $308,000 from individuals in the oil and gas industry. The Sanders campaign has received nearly $54,000,” the Washington Post 
reported.

While these numbers may seem like Clinton has received a substantially large amount of money from those industries for her campaign efforts, they do not accurately represent how much those donations are in comparison with the rest of her fundraising 
efforts.

According to the Post, just 0.15 percent of the campaign and super PAC money supporting Clinton has come from the oil and gas industry.

It’s extremely difficult to see how less than one-fifth of 1 percent of campaign contributions from fossil fuel industries can significantly influence a politician’s views and proposed policies on the subject.

If progressives are concerned with who can best protect the interests of our environment, it’s Republicans they should be worried about and asking questions of at campaign events.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the oil and gas industries have given just 2.3 percent of their contributions to 
Democrats.

Almost all of the rest of the contributions have gone to the Grand 
Old Party.

I’ve appreciated the overall politeness from the two Democrats still 
competing.

But as the battle for the nomination continues, I’m not sure arguing over who has taken money from oil and gas industries is the best use for the candidates’ and voters’ time and effort.

It looks like there will be far bigger fights over this issue and more in November.

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