Bernie Sanders: ‘Environmentalists Deserve A Debate’

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jim Mone

On Sunday, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke out about the need for issue-specific debates, saying his fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls should be debating multiple issues, including the environment.

“I think environmentalists deserve a debate so we could talk about how we move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel,” Sanders said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Sanders’ comment came after he was asked about the Democratic National Committee’s decision to cap the number of primary debates. That decision drew fire from Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley on Friday.

“Four debates and only four debates — we are told, not asked — before voters in our earliest states make their decision,” the presidential candidate said at the DNC’s summer meeting. “This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before.”

Sanders noted on Sunday that he also wanted to see other issue-specific debates among the Democratic candidates, including how they’d deal with the high cost of college and income inequality in the country. But the debate over science — and climate change in particular — is something that one group is pushing for this election. ScienceDebate, which formed during the 2008 election, is trying to convince campaigns and media outlets to air a general election debate focused solely on science. Sheril Kirshenbaum, executive director of the group, told ThinkProgress in June that she thinks voters need to know where candidates stand on climate change, health, energy and other science-related issues.

“People talk about these issues as if they’re just science issues and they’re really just human challenges,” she said. “No matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, they’re going to affect you and your family.”

Sanders has been vocal about his acceptance of climate science and his views that the country needs to address climate change during the campaign. Sanders, a senator from Vermont, introduced a bill in July that would make it easier for low-income Americans to install solar power. He’s also said he opposes drilling in the Arctic and offshore drilling as a whole. On Sunday, he reiterated those views.

“I believe, along with Pope Francis and almost all scientists, that climate change is threatening this planet in horrendous ways, and that we have to be aggressive in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel, he said, adding that he thinks the country must “defeat the Keystone pipeline.”