Elizabeth Warren On Climate Plan: 'No Coal Lobbyists For Head Of EPA'

The Massachusetts senator took a shot at EPA chief Andrew Wheeler as she outlined a clear-eyed vision for curbing climate change.
Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren vowed to keep coal lobbyists from leading the Environmental Protection Agenc
Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren vowed to keep coal lobbyists from leading the Environmental Protection Agency if she's elected to the White House. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) promised to make the Green New Deal the centerpiece of her administration’s climate policy if she’s elected president.

But that’d be a crowning legislative achievement. On her first day in the White House, Warren said, she’d halt mining and drilling leases on federal lands and set up a program at the Interior Department to create 10,000 jobs repairing infrastructure in national parks.

Yet the biggest change might be who she would nominate to lead the agency President Donald Trump has zealously put in the hands of the industries it regulates.

“No coal lobbyists for head of EPA,” Warren said at her CNN town hall Monday night. 

The remark is a reference to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who until mid-2017 worked as a top lobbyist for the influential coal baron Robert Murray. Warren has zinged him before. In a January Facebook post, she said the anti-corruption bill she unveiled last August would make it so Wheeler “wouldn’t be allowed to get anywhere near that agency — much less run it.”

The last presidential campaign cycle devoted less than six minutes of debate time to climate change. Since then, unprecedented storms and wildfires and increasingly dire warnings from the United Nations and federal scientists sent the issue surging to the top of voter priorities in surveys. It’s already becoming a bigger issue this election. Before facing a question on her climate plan, Warren raised the issue at least twice unprompted on Monday night.  

Warren hinted that climate change ― which she has yet to outline in as much detail as her proposals on student debt, housing and monopolies ― would take a lead role in her foreign policy.

“The United States is a world leader on climate. We are. We’re just leading in the wrong direction right now,” she said. “It’s not just that we’re doing wrong … we’re giving cover to the rest of the world to everyone who doesn’t want to have to make changes in their economy.”

She added: “We’re giving them cover. That stops on the first day of my administration.”