Beto O’Rourke on Wildfires, Flooding, Drought: ‘This Is Not Caused by God’

By Susan Jones | April 30, 2019 | 5:44am EDT
Democrat Robert "Beto" O'Rourke tweeted a video of himself discussing his climate change plan in Yosemite Valley, California, on April 29, 2019. (Photo: Screen capture)

( – Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, one of 20 people running for the Democrat presidential nomination, went to Yosemite Valley on Monday to announce what he calls “the most ambitious climate plan in the history of the United States.”

“Here we are in California that has seen record droughts, record wildfires,” O’Rourke told MSNBC’s “All In” with Chris Hayes:

In my home state of Texas, record flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, 58 inches of rain. It was the third 500-year flood. We just saw along the Missouri river in Nebraska, in Iowa, in Missouri, record flooding. In fact, the greatest flooding since we've been keeping records on the Missouri River.

And this is not caused by God. This is not an act of Mother Nature. This is due to our own emissions, our own excesses and our own inaction in the face of that. And these fires, these floods, these droughts, these storms are just going to get exponentially worse unless we change course now.

So, very happy to announce today the most ambitious plan on climate in this country's history. Ensuring that by 2050, we get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions and that we are halfway there by 2030, which is just a little bit more than ten years from now.

O’Rourke said on day one of his presidency, he would cut pollution, methane emissions in particular, and rejoin the Paris climate agreement. And there’s more:

“We're going to restrict any future drilling on public lands and public waterways and we're also going to ensure that existing drilling leases reflect the cost of pollution and the price to our planet of the release of carbon dioxide.”

O’Rourke said his goal is to make sure that “every sector of the economy,” not just the energy sector, contributes to his net-zero greenhouse gas emissions plan. And he promised to lift up poor and minority communities in California’s Central Valley, “which is bearing the brunt of climate change consequences.”

“I'm a friend of this planet,” O’Rourke said. “I'm a friend of the environment. And I'm going to be a fierce advocate for this and every future generation in our country.

“So, we'll do the right thing by the people, not corporations, not oil and gas, not anything else. All that matters at the end of the day are the people of this country.”

His full climate plan is posted on his website.

Host Chris Hayes asked O’Rourke why, out of the many Democrats running, he should become president of the United States?

His response: “I think the series of challenges that we have before us, the gravest of our lifetimes, millions unable to get health care, millions living in the shadow of deportation, including Dreamers in this country who should be made citizens, and an economy who works for too few, not well enough for the vast majority of our fellow Americans, and this existential threat of climate challenge -- climate change, if you think about how divided this country is, we need someone who can unify people across the differences towards these common aspirations and goals.”

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