LINCOLN, Neb. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders stressed the need for bold action to combat climate change on Thursday at the University of Nebraska where supporters cheered his early and consistent opposition to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project which would have crossed the state.
A member of the Senate energy and environment committees, Sanders led opposition to construction of the pipeline to ship crude oil from Canada’s tar sands region in Alberta to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.
“The reality is that if we do not get our act together the problems we have today will become much worse in the future if we do not boldly go forward and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Sanders said.
Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ rival for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, for years avoided taking a stand on the pipeline project, which was under study by the State Department when she was secretary of state.
Sanders told the university audience that he opposed the pipeline from the beginning because building it would have encouraged drilling for “some of the dirtiest oil on the planet” and promoted the use of the dirty fuel. Too often, massive corporations like TransCanada march into heartland communities and try to seize people’s property, just so their CEO’s can take home bigger bonus checks. That’s wrong and it needs to stop. The government should not allow big companies to take people’s land.
He cited warnings by scientists that average temperatures on Earth could rise up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century without action to curb climate change.
“Here is a radical idea. Let’s listen to the scientists, not the politicians,” Sanders told 2,200 supporters who filled the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Sanders earlier spoke to another 1,500 people who couldn’t get inside the packed center.
After the stop in Nebraska, Sanders was headed to Lawrence, Kansas. Democrats in both states will go to caucuses on Saturday to pick delegates to this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.