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Bill de Blasio defends Hillary Clinton on environmental record

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is surrounded

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is surrounded on stage by supporters including, from left: City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Letitia A. James and Scott Stringer, after addressing supporters at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan on March 2, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

An environmental group’s claims that Hillary Clinton would be influenced by nearly $4.5 million in contributions from interests connected to the fossil fuel industry “just don’t hold water,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday in a call commissioned by Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In his debut solo event on behalf of Hillary for America, the mayor spent nearly 20 minutes praising his fellow Democrat’s “commitment to addressing climate change.”

“Any suggestion that she is in anyone’s pocket on the issue of climate change or any other issue is flat-out false and just inappropriate in my view,” de Blasio said. “I don’t buy it. I don’t see evidence of it.”

The environmental activist group Greenpeace has slammed Clinton’s campaign and unaffiliated backers, such as a so-called super PAC working on her bid, for accepting money from donors with fossil fuel industry connections. A super political action committee can raise unlimited money but can’t coordinate with or donate money to a campaign.

Greenpeace’s $4.5 million figure is a grand total that includes the super PAC money and contributions from lobbyists, bundlers and big donors.

According to the website, Clinton’s campaign itself has received about $308,000, and her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), $54,000 — all from people connected to the industry, not the companies themselves. Direct corporate donations are illegal.

Sanders and Clinton both accept the scientific consensus that climate change is real, and both want to end tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. But they differ on the issue of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the controversial gas extraction method in which liquid is injected into rocks deep underground to release the gas inside.

Unlike Sanders, who opposes the method, Clinton has hedged, most recently at a debate last month.

De Blasio, a self-styled progressive, was a belated endorser of his ex-boss Clinton, whose successful 2000 U.S. Senate campaign he managed. For months last year, the former first lady racked up endorsements from other establishment Democrats while de Blasio held out.

The New York presidential primary is April 19.

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