Dutchess Dems urge DNC to host presidential climate debate

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POUGHKEEPSIE – The Dutchess County Democratic Committee is calling on Democratic National Committee to hold a debate specifically on climate change.

“The initial debates held in June made it clear that we need at least one devoted to climate change,” said Michael Dupree, vice chairman of the Dutchess Democrats. “In Miami, a city where the climate crisis manifests itself every day, a handful of the 20 candidates discussed climate change for less than 15 minutes between both nights. Miami residents are regularly forced to flee shrinking coastlines, daily tides sometimes inhibit students going to school, and it is estimated that one-fifth of the city will be underwater by 2045 – yet climate change was treated almost like an afterthought.”

The local Democratic committee said the county’s Resource Recovery Facility is “essentially an incinerator located in Poughkeepsie – one of the largest polluters in the nation,” the committee said.  The campaign committee of Republican County Executive Marcus Molinaro disputed that contention.

A statement by the county committee said Dutchess has a D grade for air quality from the American Lung Association and charged the Molinaro administration “appears to be doing nothing to improve the air residents breathe, the county committee is joining the 64 percent of Democrats who agree that the degradation of the environment must be addressed by presidential candidates.”

The Molinaro camp also challenged the local Democratic leadership’s air quality contention. “The Lung Association gives us a ‘D’ rating for ozone, and does not monitor the same in neighboring counties,” and he said in “just 10 months, this county has become a certified Bronze Climate Smart Community, joining only eight others in New York.” Only Red Hook and the county “have taken aggressive steps to confront climate change,” the county executive’s campaign committee said.

“In selecting the Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, voters deserve to know where the candidates stand on the most urgent crisis we have faced in our lifetimes,” said Elisa Sumner, chairwoman of the county committee.

Democrat Joseph Ruggiero is challenging Molinaro in this November’s general election, just over a month away.

Molinaro’s committee said he would welcome Dutchess County playing a role in the 2020 selection of a Democratic presidential candidate and he would be happy “if one of our amazing college campuses could host a Democrat presidential debate.”