Why Aren’t They Talking About the Environment?

Rands Keasler ’16 – Environmental Leadership Participant


President Obama on the campaign trail used environmental issues to his benefit, with a detailed and assertive climate and energy plan. As we near the 2016 election the environment seems to be a forgotten issue on both sides of the campaign. Here is your guide to what the presidential candidates are currently saying, if anything.


Democratic Candidates:

Hillary Clinton

One of the more vocal candidates in the running, Hilary Clinton gave an interview to a radio station in South Carolina expressing her skepticism towards oil drilling off the coast of South Carolina in the middle of last December. Since then, she has signed a pledge to power half of the nation’s energy with renewables by 2030. Her Climate Change Policy includes increasing the use of solar panels and a focus on renewable energy.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders follows the standard Democratic Platform for the environment. Also signing the pledge to increasing renewable energy sources to power half of the country by 2030. He promoted the Climate Protection and Justice Act to reduce carbon emission 80% by 2050, and establish a price on carbon pollution. In contrast to Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders stated the Paris talks went “nowhere near far enough” when addressing climate change in a press release mid-December.


Republican Candidates:

Marco Rubio

Since becoming more immersed in his presidential campaign, Marco Rubio has stayed relatively quiet on the subject of the environment. In September of 2015 he disapproved of the EPA gaining an expansion of federal authority over American lands. Rubio also stated that he would stop EPA’s Clean Power Plan, with the reasoning that climate change was not the most immediate threat to the country’s security. Rubio has been one of few to make statements at GOP debates about climate change, on separate occasions stating his lack of support on environmental regulations that would hinder businesses, and opposing the cap-and-trade program.

Donald Trump

Candidate Donald Trump has had one of the least vocal campaigns. He has been quiet on many issues including climate change. This is because on multiple occasions Trump has expressed his opinion that climate change was “a hoax”. A tweet from 2012 stated, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”. He has stood by this position.

Ted Cruz

Similar to Trump, Ted Cruz has been quoted saying “the scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming… The satellites that actually measure the temperature showed no significant warming whatsoever”. While the reporter disagreed with Cruz’s analysis of the data, Cruz has approached climate change issues with this attitude. Opposed to cap and trade programs, in addition to any energy subsidies, he agrees with all other republican candidates pushing for the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline. Cruz has co-sponsored the EPA Employment Impact Analysis Act, which would prohibit the EPA from taking action under the Clean Air Act until after impact analysis is completed.

John Kasich

When candidate John Kasich was a congressman back in 1996, he supported increased funding for renewable energy research. In October of 2015 he unveiled The Kasich Action Plan on energy production. Promoting the increase of energy from all sources from oil and gas to renewables and a focus on moving towards energy independence. This plan includes the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and repealing regulations to energy production such as the Clean Power Plan and cap and trade. Kasich has also placed a great deal of emphasis on the Clean Water Act voting in favor of increased funding and regulations.


With the 2016 Presidential Election coming up, climate change has not been a popular topic. While each candidate has co-sponsored bills or has a platform with a small paragraph discussing the issue, none have used it as a large part of their campaign. Now comes the question: why isn’t the environment on the mind of all presidential candidates?