- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Making its first-ever presidential endorsement, the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund on Tuesday backed Hillary Clinton for president, shunning Sen. Bernard Sanders and calling the former first lady “an environmental champion” with the necessary experience to save the planet.

In a statement, the powerful green group said last week’s energy speech by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump underscored the need to weigh in and endorse a candidate for the first time. The endorsement comes at a crucial time for Mrs. Clinton, just one week before the June 7 California primary.

Hillary Clinton is an environmental champion with the passion, experience and savvy to build on President Obama’s environmental legacy,” NRDC Action Fund President Rhea Suh said in a statement Tuesdaymorning. “More than any other candidate running, Hillary Clinton understands the environmental challenges America faces, and her approach to solving them is grounded in the possibility and promise our democracy affords us. She is the candidate best able to protect our climate, air, water and lands.”

Mrs. Clinton essentially has vowed to continue President Obama’s climate-change agenda if elected president, while Mr. Sanders wants to go further. He’s promoted policies such as a carbon tax and a flat-out ban on fracking that Mrs. Clinton has not yet signed on to.

The two have split environmental endorsements so far in the primary process. Mrs. Clinton has the backing of the NRDC Action Fund and the League of Conservation Voters, for example, while Mr. Sanders has secured the endorsement of Friends of the Earth.

The nation’s most prominent environmental activist group, the Sierra Club, has not yet endorsed a candidate, though it almost surely will back the eventual Democratic nominee.

Specifically, the NRDC Action Fund also cited Mrs. Clinton’s experience at the State Department as a reason for its endorsement. They said her “deep knowledge and diplomatic skills” will make it easier for the U.S. to work with other nations and live up to the commitments it made at a climate summit in Paris last year.

In her own statement, Mrs. Clinton once again promised to continue on the path laid out by the Obama administration.

“We can’t wait for climate deniers and defeatists to get on board — we need to take immediate action to build on the progress President Obama has made in fighting this unprecedented global threat,” she said. “We need to use every tool we have to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century and to make sure no one is left out or left behind in the clean energy economy, from communities struggling with the legacy of environmental racism to the coalfield communities that kept America’s lights on for generation.”

Mrs. Clinton’s environmental stances have caused her problems in recent months. Earlier this month, she apologized for saying she’d put more coal miners out of work if elected president, claiming she misspoke and merely meant that the industry was on a downward trajectory.

Despite that apology, she lost to Sen. Bernard Sanders in West Virginia, one of the nation’s largest coal-producing states.

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