Response: Sierra Club Federal Candidate Questionnaire 2020

Maggie Jo Hilliard's Candidate Survey Responses:

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Candidate: Maggie Jo Hilliard

U.S. Senate: Kentucky

Party: Democratic

Primary Date: May 19, 2020

Campaign Committee Name: Committee to Elect Maggie Jo Hilliard Ltd.

Address: PO Box 8001

City / State / Zip: Louisville, Kentucky 40257



Campaign Office #: 502-212-3821

Advancing Bold Climate Leadership

Climate disruption is the greatest environmental challenge of this century. Science demands that we take bold action to reduce carbon pollution by at least 50% by 2030, yet the Administration and some in Congress are actively seeking to roll back meaningful actions put in place over the past decade.

1) If elected, will you work to restore the progress we made to address the challenge of climate change and support additional action to put the country on a path to meet or exceed carbon reductions of 50% of 2005 levels by 2030?


Protecting Communities

Our communities should be safe, healthy places to live and raise children – with clean air and water, free from the dangers of toxic pollution. This can be achieved by defending, upholding, and fully funding the enforcement of environmental laws that require all polluters to meet stringent standards to reduce carbon, soot, smog, sulfur and other air and water pollution.

Air and water pollution and the impacts of climate disruption disproportionately impact our nation’s poorest families, working class communities, and communities of color who are more likely to live in areas where air pollution exceeds national standards. We must ensure that as we hold polluters accountable and pursue action to address climate disruption, the solutions are just and fully address the needs of these communities.

Over the past decade, the EPA put forward strong standards to protect public health and to regulate pollution, including carbon pollution. These standards have had a positive impact on the health of our communities and our efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate disruption, yet these standards and the progress they have fostered have come under continued threat from the Trump Administration, which has sought to systematically strip EPA of its capacity to enforce these lifesaving protections.

2) Will you support full funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and defend its authority to regulate, monitor, and enforce strong standards that hold fossil fuel polluters accountable for meeting the requirements of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other longstanding safeguards to public health, safety, and the environment?


3) Will you support policies and legislation that drive the cleanup of air and water pollution while prioritizing high impact areas, investments in adequate monitoring and enforcement of laws on the books and analysis of cumulative impacts faced by overburdened communities?


4) Will you support legislation to protect communities and waterways in Appalachia from pollution and coal-mining waste resulting from the practice of mountaintop removal mining?


5) Will you support legislation, such as the RECLAIM Act, to protect the livelihoods of communities and workers that have depended on and been affected by fossil fuels?


Advancing a Clean Energy, Climate-Smart Economy

For the health of the planet, the public, and the economy, our nation must continue to transition to a 100% clean energy future, and do so in ways that advance economic, racial, and gender justice and create family-sustaining jobs. We must consistently choose clean energy over the dirty fuels of the past. We must say no to major new investments and commitments to dirty fossil fuel infrastructure. We must ensure that existing coal, oil, and natural gas meet the strictest pollution standards. And finally, we must use all energy as efficiently as possible. Our nation’s continued reliance on dirty fossil fuel energy not only contributes to climate disruption but also directly threatens our health and well-being.

Today the fossil fuel industry – coal, oil, and natural gas – benefits from numerous direct and indirect subsidies and loopholes that allow them to avoid complying with laws to protect our air and water. Congress needs to end these subsidies and close the loopholes. Congress must reject an “all of the above” approach to energy development and instead pursue policies and make investments that will create family-sustaining jobs as they unleash America’s clean energy potential.

6) Will you defend existing clean energy incentives and support and promote legislation that will expand investment and deployment of renewable energy projects and a just transition from dirty fuels to move the U.S. toward a 100% clean energy economy by 2050?


7) Will you support ending fossil fuel subsidies?


8) Will you support proposals to close loopholes that exempt drilling and fracking operations from basic environmental protections provided by laws such as the Clean Water Act or Safe Drinking Water Act?


9) Will you oppose efforts to short circuit the approval process for new fossil fuel infrastructure or fossil fuel exports?


10) Will you support restriction on public financing for international high carbon projects?


Climate Smart Investments

Sierra Club supports a suite of bold public investments to simultaneously tackle the climate crisis and pollution, create high-paying jobs, and reduce inequity, as outlined in visionary proposals such as a Green New Deal. Government investments could help us achieve a climate-smart infrastructure and transportation system, energy-efficient buildings, growth in clean manufacturing, healthy ecosystems, and more sustainable agriculture. As a result, low-income workers, communities of color, and other front-line communities would benefit from cleaner air and water, higher-paying jobs, lower costs, increased climate resilience, and a more stable climate. As one example, a new “Buy Clean” policy could use government purchasing to create good manufacturing jobs in low-income communities while slashing climate, air, and water pollution from manufacturing processes.

11) Will you support a suite of bold public investments in infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, ecological, agricultural, and other projects to tackle the climate crisis and pollution, create high-paying jobs, and reduce inequity?


A 21st century climate-smart infrastructure plan will prioritize renewable energy projects, grid modernization, advanced energy efficiency projects, updates to critical water infrastructure, the electrification of commercial transportation systems, and advance resiliency. An accompanying clean manufacturing plan will spur growth in manufacturing of the goods needed for a clean energy economy while slashing manufacturing-related pollution. Congress has the opportunity to build a transportation system that relies on efficient vehicles, clean fuels, and smart growth that emphasizes clean, convenient, and affordable transportation choices such as public transit and safe biking and walking paths. Congress must pursue performance-based transportation funding, driven by national goals, including a goal to reduce our oil consumption. We support smart, integrated land use and investing in repairing our existing infrastructure before building new roads -- fix it first!

12) Will you support and defend federal clean car standards as well as increased federal investment in safe, affordable, and accessible public transportation and electric vehicles to create a 21st century transportation system that reduces oil use and cuts pollution?


Promoting a Just Democracy

Sierra Club's values are rooted in principles of equity, justice and inclusion. We believe both nature and people deserve justice and full protection under the law. We believe in a society that is first and foremost just, fair and rational – one that abhors brutality and favors equality. Whether it's the planet itself or the people who inhabit it, we hold the ideals of respect and reverence in the highest regard. For these reasons, we support policies that not only preserve and protect the environment but promote racial, economic, social, and environmental justice.

13) Will you support and actively promote policies that address racial, economic, social, and environmental justice such as legislation that requires payment of the prevailing wage, provides for hiring from local communities on federally-financed climate and clean energy projects, and promotes strong enforcement of environmental laws in the most disproportionately affected communities?


Defending our Democracy

Unfortunately, dirty energy is not just polluting our air and water. It has polluted our democracy as well. Coal, oil, and gas special interests are corrupting our government by trying to buy elections and putting corporate profits above the interests of our country. The fossil fuel industry is spending unprecedented money to influence elections – leveraging this money to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. Over the last few years the American public has voiced their increasing concern and frustration about the growing influence of money in politics.

14) Will you support legislative actions that protect and strengthen campaign finance reform and the policies laid out in legislation such as the For the People Act (H.R.1 - 2019), Government By the People Act, and the Fair Elections Now Act?


Protecting Our Public Lands from Fossil Fuel Development

Keeping dirty fuels in the ground is critical to meeting carbon reduction goals to address climate change and has the added benefit of protecting some of the most wild and spectacular public lands in the nation. America is rich with parks, monuments, forests, wilderness and wildlife; but today, a rush to mine, drill and frack for coal, oil and gas threatens the natural, recreational, health and cultural values of special places from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to our public lands and forests across the country and our coasts. The Trump Administration is working with their allies in the oil, gas and coal industries to drill in the Arctic Refuge, open up all of our coasts for new offshore drilling, and allow mining and drilling in national monuments such as Bears Ears in Utah. They even want to allow new uranium mining outside the gates of Grand Canyon National Park. Developing these dirty fuels would cause irreparable harm to the environment, damage valuable wildlife habitat, foul our waters, harm indigenous communities, and hurt local economies.

15) Will you support legislation to block proposed leasing and drilling in special places such as the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico? And will you support legislation to designate the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge as wilderness?


16) Will you oppose new leasing and development in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans and other threatened public lands onshore?


Ensuring a Lasting Legacy of Wildlands and Open Spaces for the Public

The 117th Congress should lay the groundwork to protect 30% of publicly owned wild spaces by 2030 and 50% by 2050, ensuring enhanced conservation of intact ecosystems, biodiversity, and climate resilience. Additionally, far too few communities have safe access to our network of protected parks and public lands, with low-income families the least likely to benefit from a direct connection to nature. Nearby access to nature supports mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. All kids and communities need access to nature. The 117th Congress should lay the groundwork to ensure every child in America has an opportunity to visit our parks and public lands, and all communities are able to access nature close to home.

17) Will you oppose attempts to de-designate or compromise existing national monuments, such as Bears Ear and Grand Staircase in Utah, and oppose any attempt to weaken the Antiquities Act?


18) Will you support legislation that expands access to nature for all communities, including our kids?


Ensuring Trade Deals are Good for Workers and the Environment

Past U.S. free trade agreements have undermined the ability of governments to protect the environment and address the climate crisis. For example, past agreements like NAFTA help corporations dodge hard-fought environmental policies by outsourcing pollution and jobs to countries with weaker environmental standards. In addition, deals like NAFTA include handouts to corporate polluters that foster fossil fuel dependency while empowering corporations to challenge environmental protections. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s NAFTA 2.0 deal would encourage further outsourcing of pollution and jobs, offer special handouts to the likes of Chevron and ExxonMobil, and extend Trump’s polluting legacy for years after he has left office. The deal falls far short of the minimum essential changes that leading environmental groups have outlined as necessary to curb NAFTA’s damage to our air, water, climate, and communities.

19) Will you oppose any trade deal that fails to include binding climate, environmental, and labor standards, that allows corporations to sue governments in private tribunals, that supports fossil fuels, or that otherwise fails to support a clean environment, healthy communities, and good union jobs?


Reproductive and Environmental Health

Reproductive and environmental health go hand in hand. No matter one’s gender, we all should be able to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a safe and healthy community powered by clean energy and protected from our changing climate. And every mother should be able to plan their families on their terms, to deal with their realities. Many women would like to plan and space their pregnancies, but don’t have the knowledge, tools, or power to do so. With access to education, voluntary family planning, and lives powered by clean energy, women and girls at home and around the world are better able to cope with extreme weather events, feed their families, and live the lives of their choosing.

20) Will you support funding for national and international voluntary family planning/reproductive health assistance so that women here in the United States and in other countries are able to voluntarily control their own bodies?


Environmental Leadership

Please describe leadership you've shown in support of the environment and/or justice, fairness and equity in the natural and human environments in any elected office you've held, or outside of elected office. If you've introduced legislation please describe the success or failure of that legislation. Please address below or attach a separate document.

I have represented business and individual clients in environmental law matters in civil and criminal courts, and negotiated contracts and/or injunctions with neighbors, municipalities, state and federal environmental protection agencies and corporations. In my experience, I often see small business owners having less financial resources, than large corporate polluters, to accommodate state and federal laws. It is clear from my 15 years of practice that laws, as in many federal administrations, vary based upon the financial resources of the polluter, and those that can afford lobbyists to reduce penalties for bad behaviors are more often successful than, for example, a small dry cleaner business seeking to avoid local pollution. The Small Business Administration ( estimates that 30% of new businesses fail during the first 2 years of being open, 50% during the first 5 years and 66% during the first 10 years. We need an EPA that treats all corporations and cooperatives equally and enforces/transacts efficiently to avoid killing small businesses trying to comply.

I am opposed to the exploitation of our shared resources for corporate gain and citizen contamination. Kentucky’s Senators are doing a poor job of protecting Kentucky citizens against greedy and unhealthy corporate behaviors in our state. Mitch McConnell fails to recognize the air pollution, water pollution, wildlife loss, cancer rates and clean-up costs for decades of coal extraction. (Please also see Maggie Jo Hilliard’s responses to the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth survey here.)

I began my legal career as a prosecutor in Duval and Clay Counties in Florida (2005 – 2007), an area with fresh and sea water throughout the community. There, I worked on cases involving animal cruelty, water pollution, destruction of protected habitats and other state and federal crimes.

I have also donated my time to nonprofit wild cat sanctuaries, spay/neuter clinics and humane societies in legal and creative or fundraising capacities (2008 – present). I regularly follow the Union of Concerned Scientists, The Sunrise Movement and The Sierra Club, as well as other international, national and local environmental advocacy groups, media and campaigns.

Many federal laws must quickly answer the urgent call to action for our Earth. I believe in innovative and expedited plans, starting with the Green New Deal, to save our only planetary home.

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