Did Democrats actually discuss climate change at their California convention?
Last fall’s presidential campaign didn’t focus on the environment. How much did Dems say here in the Golden State a week before Earth Day?
Fresh off an astounding string of nearly across-the-board victories in last November’s elections, California Democrats met in Sacramento on April 12-14, to celebrate their successes and clarify their policy agenda over the next two years.
The left’s heavy hitters—among them Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and philanthropic moneyman Tom Steyer—delivered speeches on issues such as the economy, gay marriage and immigration reform.
But with so much focus from the left on social and economic issues in recent months, some were gratified to see state Democrats take a strong stance on the environment.
“I’m especially pleased that we passed three environmental resolutions,” said RL Miller, co-president of the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley and chair of this year’s environmental caucus. “Two of [those resolutions] … should be national priorities as well.”
The resolutions approved at the convention included a continued affirmation in support of the California Environmental Quality Act; support for an indefinite moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. “fracking”; and a collective message to President Barack Obama urging him to reject the tar-sands pipeline proposed as part of the Keystone XL system.
Billionaire Tom Steyer took a hard line on environmental issues, urging a tax on oil companies working in the state.
Steyer has gained a reputation for putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to the environment. In 2008, Steyer and wife Kat Taylor donated $40 million to Stanford University to create the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, and just last year, he put some $32 million into a campaign that helped change corporate taxes in a way that would bring in revenue for alternative energy.
Don Winters of the Yolo County Democratic Central Committee waxed enthusiastic about Steyer’s speech, adding that environmental issues aren’t only for state and national politics.
“It’s not just the rising of the seas,” he told SN&R. “It’s in local communities, too.”
Winters emphasized the Democratic Party’s position that new technologies for tamping out pollution and fighting climate change would create new jobs in local communities.
“I don’t like it when people talk about ’jobs vs. the environment,’” she said. “Climate change is an economic issue. It is not an environmental issue.”
Maintaining a healthy environment, according to Miller, is inextricable from a healthy economy and a strong California.
“Otherwise,” she said, “the jobs being created are going to be jobs in Arkansas putting paper towels down on oil spills.”