WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday backed legislation to ban new leases to mine or drill for fossil fuels on public land and urged other presidential candidates to join the fight against global warming.
Sanders cosponsored the Keep it in the Ground Act to stop issuing new leases to mine or drill for oil, coal, and gas on public land in the West and in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.
“My hope is that all presidential candidates will join Sen. Merkley and Sen. Warren and others in fighting for this legislation and standing up to the fossil fuel industry,” Sanders said in a video distributed by his presidential campaign.
“It’s imperative that we not just talk the talk but walk the walk, that the United States lead the world in combating climate change,” Sanders said.
Sanders also had a message for Republicans in Congress who have blocked proposals to address climate change. “Worry less about your campaign contributions and worry more about your children and grandchildren,” he said. “We are taking on the Koch brothers and some of the most powerful political forces in the world who are more concerned with short-term profits than the future of the planet. I’ve got four kids, and I’ve got seven beautiful grandchildren. We have a moral responsibility to leave our kids a planet that is healthy and habitable.”
The bill by Merkley, Sanders and other senators would keep more than 90 percent of the potential carbon emissions from fossil fuels on our federal lands and federal waters underground forever.
At the news conference, Sanders also told reporters he believes that President Barack Obama should reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline before an international meeting in Paris next month on a global climate agreement. He said rejecting the pipeline would show “bold leadership” in the fight to prevent “a major, major, major planetary crisis.” The proposed pipeline would carry some of the dirtiest oil on the planet from Canada’s tar sands region to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.
Watch the video here.