WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are still locked in a heated battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. Which will get the backing of -- and maybe a boost from -- a political action committee specifically focused on climate change?
Climate Hawks Vote, a super PAC created to mobilize voters and money behind candidates who push to address climate change, is holding its own primary contest to determine which Democrat it will endorse in the primary, if any.
In order to win the group's endorsement, a candidate must receive 75 percent of the votes cast online. Anyone can participate, and the winner will be announced Wednesday.
Clinton made a direct appeal to climate voters in an email message on Monday:
The science of climate change is unforgiving. 2015 was the hottest year on record by a mile, and 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred in this century. Already, communities across America are seeing the impacts of climate change, from longer, hotter wildfire seasons in the West to rising sea levels flooding streets in Miami and Annapolis at high tide. Scientists are concerned that climate change is making it easier for vector-borne diseases like Zika to spread -- and we know this won't be the last public health challenge we’ll face. The Obama Administration recently awarded a grant to the state of Louisiana to resettle the entire population of the Isle de Jean Charles, which has lost 98 percent of its land mass to coastal erosion and rising seas -- and we know they won't be the last community facing that hard choice here in America or elsewhere in the world. Climate change is a real and urgent threat, and we must use every tool we have to tackle it.
Sanders' campaign declined to make an appeal as the candidate has vowed to shun super PACs, said Brad Johnson, executive director of Climate Hawks Vote. But environmental activist and author Bill McKibben, of the group 350.org, solicited support for the Vermont senator:
When we told him about the Keystone Pipeline in the summer of 2011, he immediately set to work helping us block it. He strategized, he used his bully pulpit in the Senate to spread the word, and he devoted staff time to pressuring the State Department.
Who showed up in New York for the People's Climate March? Bernie Sanders. Who said, when he announced his run for president, "the peril of global climate change, with catastrophic consequences, is the central challenge of our times and our planet"? That would be Bernie Sanders.
In other surveys of voters who are particularly motivated by climate change, Sanders has come out on top. His supporters often cite his early opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and his emphasis on climate as a key security issue.
Clinton eventually opposed Keystone and has also touted her work on climate. The two have differed on how they would deal with hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and other energy issues.
The Climate Hawks Vote polling, which began last Thursday, closes at 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 8. They'll announce the results on Wednesday.