Hillary Clinton on Sunday set two "bold national goals" to combat climate change, promising that if she's elected president, she would set the United States on a path toward producing enough clean renewable energy to power every home in America within a decade.
She would also initiate a process that would bring the total number of solar panels installed nationwide to more than half a billion before the end of her first term, her campaign said in a fact sheet released Sunday as it also posted a video in which Clinton lays out her ambitions.
"We cannot wait any longer" to act on climate change, the Democratic front-runner says in the video. "It's time we stand for a healthier climate, stand for cleaner air, for science, for innovation, for our children, for reality, for the future."
Sunday's announcement and an accompanying speech set for Monday at the LEED Platinum-certified Des Moines Area Regional Transit Central Station are intended as a first step in framing Clinton's views on climate and energy issues. More details about her specific positions and policy areas not discussed will be unveiled in the coming months, the campaign said.
Clinton's unveiling of her big-picture views on renewable energy while visiting Iowa is no accident. The state produces nearly a quarter of the nation's ethanol and is building a growing number of wind farms. Twenty-eight percent of Iowa's power comes from wind, and the state trails only Texas in wind power production. The dominance of renewable energy industries in the state makes it a key political issue, one on which Clinton believes her views align not only with Democrats but with most voters.
In the video, Clinton hints at Republicans who, to varying degrees, deny the existence of climate change while the screen populates with quotes from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush ("I'm a skeptic. I'm not a scientist."), Kentucky Senator Rand Paul ("It's absolutely and utterly untrue.") and Donald Trump ("Hoax"), among others.
“Those people on the other side, they will answer any question about climate change by saying, 'I’m not a scientist,'" Clinton said Sunday while speaking at Iowa State University in Ames, before adding a laugh-line that she also uses in the video. "Well, I’m not a scientist either. I’m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain."
If elected, Clinton would fight back against Republican efforts to demolish the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions expected to be finalized in the coming days or weeks. Those rules and others "set the floor, not the ceiling," the campaign said in its fact sheet, and Clinton would aim to encourage innovation with a Clean Energy Challenge for states, cities and rural communities to get federal support for clean energy programs.
Clinton supports extending and adding to existing tax credits to encourage the production and use of energy from renewable sources, as well as the expansion of the production and use of renewable energy on public lands and in federal buildings.
One concern that contributes to opposition—from Republicans and from some Democrats who represent coal country—to the expansion of the clean energy and the phasing out of the use of coal is what happens to all the people who work in the industry. But, Clinton said Sunday in Ames, she would focus resources on aiding regions already in decline because of the diminishing role of coal. “I will be very clear: I want to do more to help in coal country," she said.
About a dozen orange-shirted members of NextGen Climate Iowa, the state branch of the super-PAC founded and funded by billionaire investor and climate activist Tom Steyer, watched Clinton speak on Sunday and then waited in line to pose for a group photo with Clinton. Steyer is using his wealth to support candidates and groups that back his approach to climate change, and has already given the primary maximum $2,700 to Clinton and hosted a fundraiser for her at his San Francisco home.
On Friday, he said that candidates who he supports must have concrete plans for making clean energy at least half the overall power supply generated in the United States by 2030. Steyer is also opposed to the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Clinton has repeatedly avoided taking a position on whether Keystone should be approved by the Obama administration, saying she wants to let the State Department-led process run its course without her interference. Others running for the Democratic presidential nomination, though, have been more clear, going right for the liberal activist base that has rallied against the project in what's become a symbolic fight for both sides. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley both say they're opposed to the pipeline and have attacked Clinton for not doing the same.
“I have helped lead the opposition against the Keystone pipeline,” Sanders told reporters earlier this month as Clinton visited Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “I don’t believe we should be excavating or transporting some of the dirtiest fuel on this planet. I think Secretary Clinton has not been clear on her views on that issue.”
O'Malley's campaign, meanwhile, prebutted Clinton's Sunday announcement with a memo on "what real climate leadership looks like" that recaps his opposition to Keystone and to offshore and Arctic drilling, as well as his proposals to create millions of jobs by boosting the clean energy industry.
The initial reaction from climate groups to Clinton's framework was positive. "“Secretary Clinton’s spot-on video makes it more clear than ever that she cares deeply about climate change and will make it a top priority throughout her campaign," League of Conservation Voters senior vice president for government affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said in a statement. "Her goals of getting to 500 million solar panels by 2020 and ensuring that we are producing enough renewable energy to power every home in America in ten years display the kind of leadership we need to ensure that our nation leads the world in building a clean energy economy."