[image-1]Elizabeth Warren yielded most of her time to local leaders and environmental activists at a panel in Charleston Monday afternoon.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. senator held a “coastal community forum” at the Schoolhouse, an event space near Avondale in West Ashley.
The event took place squarely in the First Congressional District, where Rep. Joe Cunningham recently became the first Democrat to represent the area since the 1980s thanks to his unwavering opposition to drilling for oil off the coast of South Carolina.
“On day one of a Warren administration, I will sign into law a moratorium to stop all offshore drillings,” Warren announced.
In January 2018, the Trump administration announced plans to allow offshore drilling in most U.S. coastal waters after President Barack Obama had banned the practice near the end of his term. The issue has since caused a rift between the Trump administration and coastal state leaders, who argue that offshore drilling would negatively impact tourism and the environment.
The senator from Massachusetts was flanked by Heather L. Hodges, executive director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission; Rick Baumann, founder of Murrells Inlet Seafood; Rev. Joe Darby of Nichols Chapel AME Church; Stewart Weinberg of Higher Ground, a local flooding advocacy group; and Germaine Jenkins, the founder of Fresh Future Farm in North Charleston.
Responding to a question about the oil lobby’s outreach efforts, Darby reminded the crowd of the economic boon that alternative energy could provide.
“It’s not understood in corporate America that black folk are not dumb, that black folk cannot be bought off or pandered to,” he said. “If we want jobs, there are jobs in green energy, clean energy.”
Environmental justice was a prominent topic at Monday’s event.
“People are dying now at disproportionate rates because of their zip code,” Jenkins said. “There needs to be a lot of work in listening to the people who are impacted day to day by pollution.”
Warren, a former Harvard law professor who rose to prominence after calling for stronger banking regulations following the 2008 financial crisis, doubled down on her proposal for a wealth tax: a two percent levy on fortunes above $50 million.
“Good for you if you built a good fortune, or inherited one,” she said. “You built that fortune using people that all of us paid to help educate … you did that protected by police and firefighters that all of us help pay for. We’re glad to do that. All that we’re asking is that you put something back in.”
Warren also picked up a local endorsement from one of the panelists, Awendaw Mayor Miriam Green.
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