TAMPA, Fla. – Bernie Sanders’ campaign on Thursday contrasted his consistent record opposing offshore oil drilling with Hillary Clinton’s support for a bill that allowed more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
With Sanders scheduled to address a rally here tonight in this Gulf of Mexico coastal community, his campaign cited the 2006 vote on the gulf drilling bill. Sanders, then a member of the House, voted against the legislation. Clinton, then a senator, voted for the bill. After the bill passed, the oil giant BP obtained a permit to drill in the area where one of its rigs exploded in 2010, killing 11 workers and causing a catastrophic spill of of 130 million gallons of oil into the gulf.
Like her shifting stands on other issues, Clinton more recently has signaled opposition to offshore drilling.
Sanders’ spokesman, Michael Briggs, said the senator opposed the Gulf of Mexico offshore drilling bill because of the risk of environmental contamination to coastal communities. In addition, Briggs said, Sanders also strongly believes the United States must lead the world in taking bold measures to combat climate change.
Sanders touched on climate change during speeches at rallies in Kissimmee, Florida, where more than 5,200 supporters showed up at the outdoors Osceola Heritage Park, and at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where the crowd count topped 5,800.
Saying climate change already is “doing devastating harm in this country and around the world,” Sanders said the future widespread devastation would occur “if we don’t have the guts to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and tell them their short-term profits are not more important than the planet we intend to leave to our children and grandchildren.”
He also called at the Kissimmee rally for an end to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Clinton recently released a plan to encourage natural gas production using the controversial technique of injecting water and chemicals into the ground.
The Florida peninsula is especially susceptible to the effects of climate change because of rising sea levels that scientists say threaten nearly one-third of the state’s Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas.
As part of Sanders’ bold agenda on climate change, he has co-sponsored a Senate bill to end fossil fuel extraction from public lands, including along the Atlantic continental shelf. He supports a carbon tax on oil, gas and coal to discourage burning the fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gas emissions which scientists say could cause the planet to warm by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.