The second Democratic debate tonight and tomorrow night, which is being held in Detroit, offers CNN an opportunity to ask some environment/climate questions that are particularly of interest due to the local audience who are drawn from a “frontline community” as conceived of in the Green New Deal that has been endorsed by several candidates.  The Motor City is known for being the home of the U.S. auto industry, but also for pollution (see the Sunrise Movement’s #Visit48217 tweets), and as a city in transition on its way back.  In nearby Flint, the tainted drinking water that made headlines during the last Presidential election is still an issue. Will CNN take the opportunity to ask questions on these topics, or will they wait until their climate town hall in 5 weeks — that is the question. 

Why This Matters:  Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced on Monday that they intend to introduce a bill called the “Climate Equity Act,” that will  “ensure that the United States government makes communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis the foundation of policy related to climate and the environment, including the policies to build a Green New Deal.”  That sure sounds like it is aimed at Detroit, among other places.  Senator Harris also announced last week she is introducing another bill called the “Water Justice Act” that would invest nearly $220 billion in clean and safe drinking water programs, with priority given to high-risk communities and schools.  Harris has moved aggressively to address two issues important to Michigan residents and many other Democratic voters in advance of the debate.  Where are the other candidates on the eve of the debate? Of the candidates appearing tonight, Beto O’Rourke, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and John Delaney have the most detailed climate change plans. 

What Could CNN Ask?

We are just spitballing here, but the CNN moderators could ask the candidates questions like:

  • How quickly do you think the U.S. should try to transition to zero-emission electric vehicles, and how much should the government spend to encourage it?
  • What would you do to ensure that the government is helping everyone, not just people who can afford a Tesla, to have access to electric vehicles?
  • What would you do to ensure that other communities like Flint will have safe drinking water?  How would you prioritize what needs to be done to fix our country’s aging water infrastructure?
  • How will you help frontline communities like Detroit rid themselves of pollution and become hubs for a more sustainable economy?
  • What would you say to auto workers whose factories have closed in recent years about their ability to participate in the new more sustainable economy? What will you do to help them?

We will do a wrap up of tonight’s climate and environment questions and answers and preview tomorrow night’s debate in tomorrow’s ODP.  

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