Former Democrat Congressman and presidential hopeful Robert “Beto” O’Rourke will fight climate change through executive action “when” he is elected by ending new leases for oil and gas production on federal lands.
O’Rourke made the remarks in an interview on Thursday with taxpayer-funded National Public Radio, which pushed the candidate on climate change policy and left out most of what he said about it in the published transcript on NPR’s website, only citing his comment that we need to “free ourselves from fossil fuel” and make the same kind of investments that took man to the moon.
Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep asked O’Rourke if he would ask Americans to make sacrifices.
When you talk to scientists about what would be necessary to get to zero carbon emissions, they often talk about people having to change their daily behaviors — drive an electric car; that’s not such a bad change. Live in a smaller house. People might feel uncomfortable with that. Have fewer children. Eat less meat. Are you not going to demand any kind of sacrifice from anyone in order to get to zero carbon emissions?
“Yeah, we’re going to have to make an investment as a country,” O’Rourke said. “It is not going to necessarily be easy.”
“Here is the opportunity to meet a true existential threat of this moment, and I’m confident that it’s going to bring out the absolute best in us,” O’Rourke said. “It’s nothing to be afraid of — something to meet head on and to overcome and to do it together.”
Inskeep asked if O’Rourke supports the oil industry in his state, which provides the state with incredible prosperity, according to the state’s 2019 State of Energy Report that shows 2018 oil production in Texas totaled a record 1.54 billion barrels (bbl) in 2018, surpassing a previous record of 1.28 billion bbl set in 1973, Forbes magazine reported.
O’Rourke said oil will be replaced by wind power.
“My state’s big industry is going to have to transition into its other big industry,” O’Rourke said. “We generate more wind power than any other state in the union.” He went on:
As we free ourselves from that dependence on fossil fuels, we’re going to see more of my fellow Texans and fellow Americans transition into renewable energy jobs —high demand, high skill occupations – and I think it’s really important that we invest in the training to make sure that we have the skilled workforce that’s ready to take on this global challenge
“Are you not going to tell anyone in America — you just need to live in a smaller house; it needs to be closer to work and therefore it’s going to have to be smaller,” Inskeep said. “You might want to think about having your third kid.”
As president, I’m not going to tell you what kind of home that you live in or what you’re going to have for dinner, but I hope to inspire you to do everything within your power to meet the greatest challenge that we have ever faced with the knowledge that if we fail to do that — to make every use of American innovation and service and yes sacrifice over the next ten years. … Then the fires and the storms and the droughts that we see right now will pale in comparison to what our kids and grandkids experience.
Inskeep asked why O’Rourke’s climate change plan includes taking executive action when he opposed President Barack Obama’s attempt at using executive action to legalize millions of people in the United States illegally in 2014.
“Because we don’t have time to waste and there’s some things that are under the prevue of the administration,” O’Rourke said. “For example, ensuring that we do not have any new oil and gas leases on federal lands.”
“Not only is that the best thing to do that’s clearly the responsibility of the president and the necessary departments and agency that can make sure that we’re meeting this challenge,” O’Rourke said.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter