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Who will be the climate change candidate in 2016?

Will the climate movement have a serious contender for President in 2016? Now's the time to find someone strong on the most urgent crisis of our time and serious about winning the White House.

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Should that candidate be Hillary Clinton?  She says the right things. But the most significant actions of her career are promoting fracking as Secretary of State and letting the oil industry influence environmental impact studies for the Keystone XL pipeline.
With a record like that, it's hard to imagine what Clinton can say to convince skeptical primary voters that a politician notorious for having her finger to the wind will suddenly became a stalwart champion against powerful fossil fuel interests. This is the same person who backed off from her signature issue, universal healthcare, for roughly ten years after the '93 setback and retreated to safer talking points about prescription drugs for seniors.

Is it reasonable to believe someone who has played it safe for her entire career will suddenly become obstinate against the most powerful interests in Washington? The cost of taking only small, politically easy steps in classic Clintonian fashion will be many more lives lost in climate change disasters. The future of civilization as we know it depends on electing a President who will take the kind of bold, courageous action that neither Hillary nor her husband (the Neville Chamberlain of the climate crisis) have demonstrated during their careers.

Clinton's approval numbers have nosedived to under 50% since she left the Obama administration and stepped back into the spotlight. Despite the inevitability narrative around Clinton, it's realistic to believe a candidate can challenge her in Iowa and other early primary states. That fear is why her supporters are so determined to discourage anyone else from running.

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The dream candidate for the environmental movement who could start with enough money, name recognition, and experience to seriously challenge Clinton is Al Gore. I would love to re-elect Gore, but he hasn't expressed interest in running. Yet.

Bernie Sanders speaks boldly about climate change but it doesn't sound like he's serious about winning the election. Most primary voters and donors aren't interested in wasting time on a campaign that's only trying to raise issues. If we're discussing dream candidates, I'd be excited to see Obama's former Labor Secretar, Hilda Solis bring her focus on environmental justice to the election. 
Among those talking about running, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has the most impressive record of acting on climate. Stroll through the Climate Change Maryland website to see how other states should do it.

It's not mere window dressing. Maryland passed a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act in 2009, released a plan in 2013, and has set the goal of reducing emissions 25% by 2020. 

O'Malley's big test is how he acts on fracking. Some Democratic leaders and big green funders are a little slow to acknowledge that natural gas isn't a realistic solution to climate change. Even if you don't account for methane leaks, switching from coal to another fossil fuel simply can't produce the kind of greenhouse gas reductions required to address the crisis.
Most of the environmental grassroots have a more reality-based position. The movement against fracking is passionate and growing rapidly. If O'Malley supports fracking his previous actions won't help him in the Democratic primary. He'll be just another lackluster candidate with a mixed environmental record.

Among those already running, Martin O'Malley looks like the most likely candidate for the climate change movement to unite behind but he'll have to take a strong stand against fracking.

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