U.S. President Donald Trump blasted the climate change proposals of his Democratic challengers for the White House on Wednesday as they began showcasing their plans in a marathon round of televised town halls.
“The Democrats’ destructive ‘environmental’ proposals will raise your energy bill and prices at the pump,” Trump said in a series of tweets, just minutes after the seven-hour event kicked off on CNN.
Former Obama administration Housing Secretary Julian Castro was the first of 10 Democratic presidential contenders to explain plans to tackle climate change in the forums likely to pit moderates like front-runner Joe Biden against progressives such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The session offers Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to face Trump in the November 2020 election an opportunity in a crowded presidential field to stand out on an issue increasingly important to voters.
Castro described climate change as “the most existential crisis to this country’s future,” as he described the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian and Amazon wildfires dominating television footage.
He also refuted Republican criticism that climate action costs consumers, instead calling it an “opportunity” that could create jobs in renewable energy related industries.
Trump rejects mainstream climate science and has reversed Obama-era initiatives meant to curb emissions, promote alternatives to fossil fuels and join the world in fighting the crisis.
Concerns about the environment have spiked as fires burn in the Amazon, ice melts in Greenland and strong storms this year have flooded farms in Midwestern states.
During the event, which began at 5 p.m., the candidates’ visions of the future of oil, gas and coal, and electric vehicles will be on the table.
They will also talk about their plans to adapt to climate change including protecting communities from the devastation of intensified storms, floods and droughts. The forums will feature individual candidates facing questions from moderators and voters.