HIBBING, Minn. -- Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Friday opened a new line of attack on Hillary Clinton, sharply questioning her ability to address climate change because her campaign has taken money from supporters of hydraulic fracturing.
“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 while taking money from those who would profit off the destruction of the planet,” the senator from Vermont said in a statement released while campaigning here.
Sanders’s campaign also launched a fundraising pitch Friday making the same argument and debuted a television ad in Minnesota and Colorado, two Super Tuesday states. The 30-second spot highlights his vocal opposition to the controversial method of drilling for natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Sanders keyed on a fundraiser for Clinton last month hosted by executives of Franklin Square Capital Partners, a firm that has invested significantly in domestic fracking.
The practice is opposed by many environmentalists, who cite risks to groundwater and potential air pollution from the drilling sites, including the release of methane. Clinton has said that proper safeguards need to be in place but not categorically opposed the drilling method.
“People who live near fracking locations no longer have drinkable water, and in some cases their tap water is actually flammable,” Sanders said in his fundraising pitch. “Oklahoma has even seen a rash of earthquakes that many believe are a result of fracking. … We need a president who is not beholden to special interests and who will do everything in his or her power to fight the effects of climate change.”
The Clinton campaign dismissed the notion that the former secretary of state’s commitment to addressing climate change was affected by any of her donors.
“Hillary believes strongly that we need to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” said Clinton spokesman Zachary Petkanas, adding that a plan she has put forward “takes on the oil and gas companies, protects and implements President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and sets bold new goals to boost clean energy, increase energy efficiency, and slash oil consumption by one-third.”
Sanders’s attempt to contrast his commitment to Climate change was part of a broader ongoing effort to draw distinctions with Clinton that he launched followed his loss to her in the Nevada caucuses. They face off again Saturday in a primary in South Carolina, where Clinton is widely expected to prevail.