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Bernie Sanders Vs. Hillary Clinton On Risky Arctic Oil Drilling

Yesterday, President Barack Obama did a big favor for Big Oil, and approved the expansion of risky offshore drilling for crude oil in Arctic waters. This is a big blow to the environmental movement, and as such, something that Democratic presidential candidates should be expected to have some reaction to.

So, what have the two main Democratic Party presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, had to say on the issue of drilling for oil in the Arctic?

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a long record of opposition to expanded drilling for oil in the Arctic.

In 2001, Sanders voted for H.R. 4, to prohibit drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and then co-sponsored the Morris K. Udall Arctic Wilderness Act, additional legislation to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.

In 2007, Sanders supported the ANWR Wilderness Act, which would have provided extra protection to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2010, Sanders openly criticized Barack Obama’s plans to expand new areas of the Arctic to risky drilling for crude oil, republishing an op-ed that concluded, “comprehensiveness is precisely what the President’s strategy lacks.”

In 2013, Sanders wrote a letter to the Department of the Interior demanding that federal leases for oil drilling in the Arctic be suspended.

How does Hillary Clinton’s position on oil drilling in the Arctic measure up to the record of Bernie Sanders? Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, has warned, “Standing with citizens on risks of fracking, oil trains and drilling in the Arctic are all issues Clinton must address. It is not enough to say you believe climate change exists, we want to know what Clinton is going to do about it.”

Since the news came out yesterday that the Obama Administration is supporting expanded oil drilling in Arctic waters, Hillary Clinton has remained silent. Her presidential campaign appears to either not know or not care about the news.

At this point, however, the familiar narrative, of how Bernard Sanders is more progressive than Hillary Clinton, and Clinton is nothing more than a corporate-owned Republican in Democrat’s clothing, falls apart.

The fact is that, when Hillary Clinton was in the U.S. Senate, she had a record of solid opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic, just like Bernie Sanders has had.

Hillary Clinton voted against allowing drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Record in 2002, and again in 2003 and 2005. Clinton supported the ANWR Wilderness Act, just like Bernie Sanders did.

Though Hillary Clinton hasn’t been outspoken about protecting the Arctic from oil drillers, Bernie Sanders hasn’t been outspoken about oil drilling in the Arctic since he began his presidential campaign either. Like Hillary Clinton, Sanders has remained silent about the news that Barack Obama is supporting expanded oil drilling in the Arctic. Like Clinton, he seems to either not know or not care about the decision.

On the issue of oil drilling in the Arctic, neither Clinton nor Sanders is fatally flawed, but neither candidate comes off as particularly impressive either. Both Sanders and Clinton should be doing more to stand against Barack Obama’s approval of expanded oil drilling in Arctic waters.

8 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders Vs. Hillary Clinton On Risky Arctic Oil Drilling”

  1. Charles Manning says:

    I’m surprised that you fault Sanders on this. But have either of the candidates been questioned in media about it? Not that I’ve heard. Is there anyway that Irregular Times can do interviews of these candidates? Have you contacted the campaigns to request that the candidates answer questions?

    And because dark money plays such a role, have you examined the views of the people shoveling huge campaign contributions to Clinton and Sanders? I’ll bet Clinton gets lots from people invested in the fossil fuel industries, but not Sanders.

  2. Green Man says:

    Bill, your last point is interesting to me, but given that so much of federal campaign money is dark money these days, there’s really no way that we can know how much money from what industries any candidate gets. We can look at the the portion of contributions that is known, but to conclude that the contributions that are not known follow the same pattern is problematic, because much of the money is kept dark is kept dark for a reason.

    As compelling as Bernie Sanders is in many ways, his campaign can’t be held to different standards than others.

    It seems that Hillary Clinton is avoiding confronting the expansion of offshore drilling for oil in the Arctic, even though it’s extremely risky and will add a huge amount of additional carbon dioxide into the issue. Why is she avoiding confrontation? Because to criticize a sitting Democratic president won’t feed her strategy of moving to the right of most Democrats, to woo over many Republican voters.

    Bernie Sanders is also avoiding confrontation with this issue, but I think for a different reason: To avoid angering Democratic voters by appearing disloyal to Barack Obama. This avoidance in the Sanders for President campaign causes me to worry that Sanders is in danger of being co-opted by the Democratic Party even more as the primary process goes forward.

  3. Ella says:

    The Clinton’s tricky finances are, as you know, are still being examined. http://news.yahoo.com/us-okd-most-bill-clinton-speech-requests-within-071833841–election.html

    Of course the link to Hillary’s campaign button site tells it all. There certainly are not many, if any, type of people she is calling to her side. But it is not a sign of broad mindedness to espouse any and all life philosophies. Is it any less inflammation to plead with a “Heretic” than to have a button “Ukrainians for Clinton”. (Not Hillary on that one.) Entrepreneurs they are and will make even more money on those buttons. Hillary has already sent her envoy into the Democratic caucus in Washington to make known her stand and expectations. https://www.yahoo.com/politics/hillary-clintons-hill-whisperer-118443388921.html Or are those the expectation of her husband?

    As for OIL, Hillary is touting American oil and gas production. http://energyindepth.org/marcellus/hillary-clinton-touts-benefits-of-natural-gas/
    They sold oil interests in a Blind Trust that became public knowledge to prevent embarrassment during the campaign and a possible conflict of interest while in the White House. http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/06/15/bill-hillary-clinton-sold-drug-oil-assets-to-avoid-conflicts-interest/
    The Clinton’s are not commenting on the Obama decision, as neither is Sanders, is probably because the national need for oil and gas products at this time is too great physiologically to let it become an issue this early in the campaigns.

    1. Green Man says:

      There is no physiological need for oil and gas. Some people are economically dependent upon selling oil and gas, and other people have chosen to construct their social lives around the heavy consumption of oil and gas, but there is no physiological need involved.

  4. Ella says:

    Let me give you an example. There are gas lawnmowers and there are electric lawn mowers. Both cost about the same amount. Why would someone buy a machine that they have to buy fuel for that stinks, causes exhaust fumes, must have oil purchased for it and put in, changed, new filter put on periodically, new muffler put on periodically, and is heavy carrying all that stuff around. An electric needs only a battery and a key to start it and does the same job. Perhaps it is not a psychological need to stay with all the macho guys around, maybe the person just enjoys all that work, gives them something to do and they love the smell of gas, oil, and exhaust fumes.

  5. Ella says:

    I just read my first post and wonder if I was thinking one thing and writing another in the first part. Its time to pay attention to what is being said again. Drat.

  6. Tom says:

    Here you go Green Man,

    http://news.yahoo.com/apnewsbreak-us-says-gulf-oil-spill-could-last-180359226–finance.html

    APNewsBreak: US says Gulf oil spill could last 100 years

    i doubt humanity will be around that long.

    1. J Clifford says:

      Oh my. Why isn’t that story getting more attention? Let’s see what we can do to deal with that problem.

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