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How the Democratic primary is pulling Clinton to the left on environmental justice.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a speech to Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in New York, Clinton unveiled a detailed environmental and climate justice platform that does Bernie Sanders better on several issues. While Clinton has made the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, a central issue of her campaign, today’s announcement formalized what she has previously said about environmental racism and the disproportionate effects of climate change. Clinton’s plan made the link to Flint explicit—eliminating lead as a public health threat was the first bullet on her list.

Clinton’s proposals include reducing urban air pollution, building resilient infrastructure, and creating an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force on her first day in office, which will be charged with “finding and fixing the next 50 Flints.” 

Sanders has also spotlighted environmental justice in his discussions of race. Last year he even introduced an amendment that, in part, would form “a national environmental and climate justice climate change plan.” But though Sanders’s campaign website includes “environmental violence” in its racial justice platform, his proposals now seem vague compared to Clinton’s. 

For years, activists and residents have pushed politicians to address issues affecting the U.S.’s least visible communities. Clinton’s serious take on the issue should light a fire under Sanders, especially if he wants to improve his chances with marginalized communities and people of color.