The 2020 Democratic Primary has revealed the environmental radicalism of the Democratic candidates. As voting is set to begin next week in Iowa, it is worth highlighting all of the things the Democratic field has promised to ban in the name of a “climate crisis.” From the natural gas, coal and nuclear energy that powers and heats our homes down to everyday items like plastic bags and straws, Democrats have promised to ban it all. 

  1. Nuclear Power: Despite producing roughly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, nuclear energy has been in the crosshairs of major Democratic candidates. Elizabeth Warren has called to ban the construction of new nuclear plants and to ultimately end nuclear energy, stating “we won’t be building new nuclear plants. We will start weaning ourselves off nuclear and replace it with renewables.” Likewise, Bernie Sanders’ climate plan calls for an end to building new nuclear plants and enacts a “moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals.” Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg told the Washington Post, “no new plants at this time.”


  1. Gas-powered cars: Senator Sanders has backed legislation to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2040. In addition to an outright ban on purchasing gas-powered cars, Sanders would spend $2 trillion in taxpayer dollars to put Americans in electric vehicles. At a campaign event, Elizabeth Warren told a crowd “by 2030, no more cars with carbon emissions.” Warren added that she would also disallow the building of homes with carbon emissions by 2028 and ban electricity produced with carbon emissions by 2035. 


  1. Plastic Straws: Although she has now terminated her campaign, Senator Kamala Harris called for a ban on plastic straws at the CNN Climate Town Hall. Likewise, Mayor Pete Buttigieg declared that those who use plastic straws are responsible for climate change and “part of the problem” along with those who eat hamburgers.  


  1. Plastic bags: At a campaign event in Iowa on January 2nd, 2020, Joe Biden agreed “100 percent” with a nationwide ban on plastic bags. Responding to a question from the audience, Biden responded by saying, “I agree with you 100 percent. We should not be allowing plastic. What we should do is phasing it out.” 


  1. Coal Power Plants: At a New Hampshire campaign rally in December of 2019, former Vice President Joe Biden proposed terminating the jobs and economic anchor of thousands of workers of coal-mining communities as part of his plan to combat climate change. Biden said that “Anybody who can go down 300-3,000 feet in a mine sure as hell can learn how to program as well. Anybody who can throw coal into furnace can learn how to program for God’s sake.”


  1. Fracking: Sanders’ website proposes the complete ban of importing and exporting fossil fuels, as Sanders believes that it will “end incentives for extraction around the world.” Elizabeth Warren has also told the Washington Post that she supports a ban on fracking.


  1. Offshore drilling: Presidential-hopeful Bernie Sanders has explicitly stated on his campaign website that he is serious about banning offshore drilling. Sanders’ website states, “If we are serious about moving beyond oil toward energy independence… then we must ban offshore drilling…Congress must not open new areas to offshore oil drilling and ban drilling in the Arctic Circle and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” Elizabeth Warren has also said she would “end offshore drilling on day one.”


  1. Pipeline Building: When talking to a voter in New Hampshire, Joe Biden stated that he would end both the practice of fracking and the building of new pipelines across America.  Sanders has expressed similar hostility towards pipelines, promising to shutdown both the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines while in the past saying “We can’t afford to build new pipelines that lock us into burning more fossil fuels.” 


  1. Exporting fossil fuels: Bernie Sanders’ climate plan would outright ban the import and export of fossil fuels, including coal and natural coals. Elizabeth Warren has also signaled her support ending fossil fuel exports and would ban the exportation of crude oil. Candidates Tulsi Gabbard and Steyer also support ending fossil fuel exports.


  1. Fossil Fuel production on federal lands: From 2017 data,  42 percent of coal, 24 percent of crude oil and 13 percent of natural gas production occur on federal lands. Yet, Elizabeth Warren has promised she will enact a “total moratorium” on fossil fuel extraction on federal lands. Joe Biden’s climate plan calls for “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters.” Michael Bloomberg has said he will “immediately end all new fossil fuel leases on federal land.”  Bernie Sanders is the bill sponsor of the Keep It in the Ground Act and has stated that “we must keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground.” Amy Klobuchar has also stated her support for ending fossil fuel extraction on federal lands.