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Steyer: A 'State Of Emergency' Over Climate Change On Day One

John Pemble / IPR
Democrat Tom Steyer says the two most important things that need to be done in Washington: breaking corporate influence over lawmakers, and addressing climate change.

Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer of California has big plans for his first day as president.

“I will declare a state of emergency on day one,” he said, referring to the need to take on the effects of climate change. “We are faced with something that will affect the health and safety of every single American, and every single American in the future.”

Steyer spoke Sunday at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair.  He said one obstacle is the fossil fuel industry and its influence on lawmakers.  Steyer said corporate money in politics has also helped block efforts to pass a system of background checks for potential gun buyers, as well as efforts to pass some sort of student loan debt relief.

Steyer is a billionaire activist and philanthropist.  He created the advocacy group and political action committee NextGen America.  It has supported candidates who want to fight climate change, and Steyer said it has increased the voter turnout among people under the age of 30.  Steyer also created the Need to Impeach campaign, a multimillion dollar effort to advocate for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Steyer said fighting corporate influence on government and ending the climate crisis are the most important things that need to be done.

“If we do those two things, we are going to have a society that is the envy of everyone on this planet,” Steyer said. “We will reestablish what it means to be Americans in terms of moral leadership.”

Michael Leland is IPR's News Director