Bernie Sanders is backing legislation that would ban new leases to mine or drill on public land, urging other presidential candidates to join him.
The Vermont senator and Democratic presidential nomination contender co-sponsored the “Keep it in the Ground Act” which would end new mining and drilling leases on public land in the West, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.
“It’s imperative that we not just talk the talk, but walk the walk, that the United States lead the world in combating climate change,” Sanders said in a video released by his presidential campaign.
Sanders, who appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference with Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., maintained that the legislation would keep more than 90 percent of potential carbon emissions from fossil fuels on federal land and federal water underground.
He said the proposal takes on “the Koch brothers and some of the most powerful political forces in the world.”
Sanders also told reporters he believes President Barack Obama should reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline “as soon as possible” -- and at least before an international meeting in Paris next month on a global climate agreement.
“We need bold and aggressive action to transform our energy system away fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Sanders said. “We need aggressive action in every way.”
Obama has put off making a decision on the controversial pipeline for the past seven years, but there is a growing expectation he will reject the permit. TransCanada, the company applying to build the pipeline, sent the State Department a letter this week asking for a pause in the Obama administration’s review, but the White House says he plans to make a decision before he leaves office.
Sanders said he expected Keystone supporters to renew their push for the pipeline if a Republican is elected president.
“I think their hope is that Republicans win and when they do, a path will be open for a pipeline and other disastrous environmental legislation,” he said.