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Biden criticizes Steyer’s coal-mining investments after billionaire promises to fight climate change

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Joe Biden and Tom Steyer spar during the debate.
(Getty Images)

At Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta, billionaire activist Tom Steyer tried to stake out a spot as the leading candidate on climate change — a role that has more or less been up for grabs since Washington Gov. Jay Inslee dropped out of the race. But Steyer also took a shot from former Vice President Joe Biden for his past investments in coal mining.

“I’m the only person on this stage that will say climate is the No. 1 priority to me,” Steyer said, adding that he thought Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussetts “won’t say it.”

Clashes and mockery come at the end of the Democratic debate in Atlanta. Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard face attacks and Joe Biden faces laughter.

“I would declare a state of emergency on Day One,” said Steyer, who promised to use the “emergency powers of the presidency” to push for cuts in carbon emissions while making it “the No. 1 priority of my foreign policy as well.”

Biden said he did think climate change is “the No. 1 issue,” but added that “I don’t need the lecture from my friend” Steyer, who built part of his wealth at a hedge fund that heavily invested in coal mining.

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Steyer responded: “I came to the conclusion over 10 years ago that climate as the absolute problem of our society,” and has since spent much of his money in favor of environmentalist causes.


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