Clinton outlines commitment to renewable energy at first major campaign rally 

Source: Jennifer Yachnin, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday pitched an aggressive commitment to promoting renewable energy, vowing to make the United States a “clean energy superpower” if she wins election to the White House next year.

Clinton made the remarks at an event on New York’s Roosevelt Island during her first major campaign rally in her bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

During the event, broadcast on C-SPAN and other media outlets, Clinton focused heavily on closing the income gap, part of her “Four Fights” platform, as well as on measures such as campaign finance reform.

The former New York senator, who is widely viewed as the Democratic front-runner, also won praise from environmentalists over the weekend for her statements on renewable energy.

“We will restore America to the cutting edge of innovation, science and research by increasing both public and private investments,” Clinton said. “And we will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century [by] developing renewable power — wind, solar, advanced biofuels; building cleaner power plants, smarter electric grids, greener buildings; using additional fees and royalties from fossil fuel extraction to protect the environment.”

Clinton also vowed to enable the United States “to lead the global fight against climate change” and made offerings to support communities whose economies are now based in the fossil fuel industry.

The Democrat said her administration would “ease the transition for distressed communities to a more diverse and sustainable economic future from coal country to Indian Country, from small towns in the Mississippi Delta to the Rio Grande Valley to our inner cities; we have to help our fellow Americans.”

Clinton also called for the creation of an “infrastructure bank” aimed at providing bonds to shore up bridges, roads, railways, airports, ports and broadband networks.

Earlier in her remarks, Clinton took aim at climate skeptics in the Republican primary field, although she did not mention any specific candidate by name.

“Ask many of these candidates about climate change, one of the defining threats of our time, and they’ll say: ‘I’m not a scientist.’ Well, then, why don’t they start listening to those who are?” Clinton said.

California billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who hosted a fundraiser for Clinton in May, praised the former first lady for raising the issue in her remarks.

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and Secretary Clinton today emerged as a strong leader in solving the climate crisis and ensuring our country’s economic security,” Steyer said.

But Steyer, who made opposition to construction of the Keystone XL pipeline a bright line for candidates he supported in the 2014 election, did not raise the subject in his statement or Clinton’s relative silence.

League of Conservation Voters Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld similarly praised Clinton, noting that in December, the Democrat asserted that President Obama’s Climate Action Plan should be “protected at all costs.”

“Secretary Clinton said investing in clean energy will create millions of jobs and will let us lead the global fight against climate change, we couldn’t agree more. We commend Secretary Clinton for her excellent speech today and encourage all candidates to match this level of commitment to acting on climate,” Sittenfeld said.

But climate hawk Bill McKibben, co-founder of the group, criticized Clinton on Friday, asserting that her general support for climate change policy translated to little more than “correct but eye-glazing” statements, and called on her to take steps like issuing a definitive statement on Keystone XL (E&E Daily, June 12).

During her remarks, Clinton, 67, also referenced the fact that she is the only female Democratic contender in the race and one of two major female candidates, joking that: “I may not be the youngest candidate in this race. But I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States.”