May 19, 2016

Clinton Campaign Walks Back Adviser’s Comments About Taking Climate Policy “Off The Table”


Hillary Clinton is difficult to pin down on energy issues. Her flip-flop on the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015 earned her praise from extreme environmentalist Bill McKibben. Her vow to put coal miners “out of business” upset coal families around the country, before she said she was “totally taken out of context.” Of course, no one can forget her fiery exchange with a Greenpeace activist in March over fossil fuel donations.

Now, the Clinton camp may be backtracking on a major pillar of the Environmentalist Left: “comprehensive” climate policy. See this editor’s note from Greentech Media’s interview with Clinton adviser Trevor Houser:

[Editor’s note: This interview was edited by GTM from its original live version for brevity and clarity. An earlier version of this post mentioned that Senator Clinton would “be taking comprehensive energy and climate policy off the table.” The Clinton campaign responded to say that this was not reflective of their policy, and that they are instead “not betting” on comprehensive legislation. The quote was stripped out of the original version for the sake of clarity.]

Despite the quick reversal from Clinton’s camp, Houser’s original remarks would put the Democratic frontrunner at odds with the environmentalists offering her support or cover.

League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Board Chair Carol M. Browner said Clinton “gets what it takes to hit the ground running” on climate change when LCV endorsed Clinton in November 2015. The Sierra Club, which praised Clinton’s “strong environmental record” when she entered the race, promotes leaders “who take bold action on climate.”

Not to be outdone, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer – who is helping provide $50 million in cover for Clinton in the general election – has called climate change an “urgent threat.”

At the time of writing, no major groups on the Environmentalist Left had responded to Houser’s statement or the Clinton campaign’s backtrack. It remains to be seen whether this episode will be added to Clinton’s string of energy policy flip-flops over the years.