'Fractivists' give Clinton run for her money in home state
A Greenpeace activist has reignited controversy over Hillary Clinton's financial connections to the fossil fuel industry as the candidates prepare for New York's primary later this month.
As the Democratic presidential campaigns move to New York to chase their party’s nomination – a state that in 2014 banned the underground gas-extraction process known as fracking – their positions on fossil fuels are once again causing a stir.
The latest uproar comes after Hillary Clinton last week responded angrily to a Greenpeace activist who asked if she would reject fossil fuel donations from her campaign in the future.
Wagging her finger at the woman, Mrs. Clinton replied, "I have money from people who have worked for fossil fuel companies. I have never … I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I am sick of it."
The oil and gas donations issue again comes to the forefront as polls have tightened in New York, which will hold its primary on April 19. The former New York senator led there at one point by a large margin. But the state's climate activists, who fought for years to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas there, are posing a challenge for Mrs. Clinton in her home state.
A main disagreement between the two candidates, which struck a nerve during Clinton's exchange with the Greenpeace activist last week, is about the amount of money Clinton receives directly or indirectly from the fossil fuels industry, which for environmentalists and fracking opponents has implications for the country’s future energy policy under a president Clinton.
"It is disappointing that Secretary Clinton has leveled an accusation that just isn't true," responded Bernie Sanders’s campaign in a press release on Friday, after Clinton accused it of lying about her financial ties to the oil and gas industry.
According to OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks money in politics, contributions from individuals working for oil- and gas-related ventures don't even make the list of her top 20 donating industries, but Clinton has accepted $1.4 million in contributions bundled by lobbyists who represent the industry, according to a review of Federal Election Commission filings by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research group that runs OpenSecrets.org.
According to the website:
Bundlers are fundraising heavyweights who pledge to bring in a certain amount for the candidate from their personal and professional networks. So far this year, 47 different lobbyists have collected $4.1 million for Clinton’s presidential bid. Over 30 percent of this money — $1.4 million — was raised by 11 different bundlers who represent clients from the oil and gas industry. These clients include major oil companies like Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Marathon Oil.
As Bernie Sanders’ campaign pointed out, Greenpeace estimates that Clinton’s campaign actually received much more when adding up money that comes in from fossil fuel-related lobbyists, bundlers, and large donors. The advocacy organization estimates that her campaign has received more than $4.5 million from these interests.
Bernie Sanders in July pledged not to accept donations from fossil fuel companies. He also has said succinctly that he opposes fracking, which is a controversial process of extracting oil and clean-burning gas from shale formations deep underground by injecting a cocktail of chemicals that helps release the fuels.
When she was asked about fracking during last month’s Flint, Mich., debate, Clinton said she would aim to regulate the process.
"I don’t support it when any locality or state is against it. I don't support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present," Clinton said, according to Politico.
"By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place," Clinton said. "We've got to regulate everything that is currently under way."