Clinton dissed environmentalists in private meeting with unions
Hillary Clinton dismissed climate activists in withering terms during a meeting with labor unions last year, saying the environmentalists pressing her to renounce fossil fuels should “get a life,” according to allegedly hacked emails released Friday by WikiLeaks.
Clinton’s private remarks came as she was fighting off a challenge from Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and getting accosted at rallies by environmental activists asking her to join the Vermont senator’s call to stop oil and gas drilling on federal lands and to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. Since winning the nomination, Clinton has made amends with Sanders, and green groups have united behind her campaign to head off the threat posed by Donald Trump. But revelation of the private remarks may complicate that relationship.
“I’m already at odds with the most organized and wildest” of the environmental movement, Clinton told building trades unions in September 2015, according to a transcript of the remarks apparently circulated by her aides. “They come to my rallies and they yell at me and, you know, all the rest of it. They say, ‘Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?’ No. I won’t promise that. Get a life, you know.”
WikiLeaks, which the Clinton campaign accuses of working with Russia to undermine her campaign, already has released pro-fracking excerpts of Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, but the new comments from Clinton are more sharply critical of green activists.
Clinton’s comments came weeks before she announced her opposition to Keystone XL, a decision that she previewed at the meeting for labor groups — most of which supported the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline. Given that she also sought the unions’ endorsement, however, Clinton couched her rejection of Keystone as an opportunity to focus on plans she released later that month to repair and replace existing natural gas infrastructure.
“Bernie Sanders is getting lots of support from the most radical environmentalists because he’s out there every day bashing the Keystone pipeline. And, you know, I’m not into it for that,” Clinton told the unions, according to the transcript. “My view is, I want to defend natural gas. … I want to defend fracking under the right circumstances.”
Clinton has supported President Barack Obama’s moratorium on federal coal leasing, and has encouraged him to make the Arctic off limits in the offshore drilling plan he is scheduled to release before leaving office. But she has stopped short of endorsing a phaseout of drilling on federal lands that greens would like to see.
In her speech to the unions, she took aim at that emerging “keep it in the ground” strategy.
“They are after everything and I’m just talking through them. And of course they go support somebody else,” she said, according to the transcript. “That’s fine and I don’t particularly care. But I do think I have to say, look, given everything else we have to do in this country, this is not an issue for me that I’m going to say I support. I want to work on other stuff.”
Bill McKibben, the co-founder of green group 350.org, which has made its name on the fight against Keystone and has led efforts to target Clinton during public events, said activists would not be deterred.
“We’d actually love to do something with our lives other than endlessly fight the fossil fuel infrastructure that will raise the planet’s temperature past the breaking point,” McKibben said. “If Secretary Clinton is willing to lend a hand in the task, we’d love to move on to things that are more rewarding, like building out a solar and wind-fueled future. In the meantime, though, someone’s got to do it. And the day the election is over and the creepy perv beaten, we’ll be back hard at work.”
The Clinton campaign has declined to confirm the authenticity of the emails released by WikiLeaks, which it accuses of working to benefit Russia and the Donald Trump campaign by hacking campaign chairman John Podesta.
“By dribbling these out every day WikiLeaks is proving they are nothing but a propaganda arm of the Kremlin with a political agenda doing [Vladimir] Putin’s dirty work to help elect Donald Trump,” Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said in a statement earlier this week.