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KGOU's Q&A With Oklahoma Democratic Primary Winner Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders stumps in Oklahoma City on 2/28
Kate Carlton Greer
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders stumps in Oklahoma City on February 28

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders won Oklahoma’s Democratic Primary Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the Vermont Senator spoke with KGOU over the phone to talk about his policies. 

Sanders acknowledged Oklahoma’s dependence on fossil fuels, but he reiterated his stance that the country should move toward renewable energy.

“Frankly, the debate is over. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity, and it is already creating devastating problems around the world and in our county. We are going to have to begin the process of transforming our energy system,” he said.

Sanders said he supported creating new jobs for people currently working in the state’s oil and gas industry and providing unemployment and job training during the transition.

The Democratic candidate’s home state of Vermont banned hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in 2012.  He told KGOU that a similar shift away from fossil fuels could positively impact Oklahoma.

“At the end of the day, if you want a more stable economy, and not one quite as volatile as oil is, I think we have got to transition to sustainable energy, and that will give us far more stability.”

He also mentioned his relationship with climate change denier U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. The Oklahoma Republican chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“Jim and I are friends,” Sanders said. "We respect each other. We like each other but we differ on almost every major issue.”

“One area where Jim Inhofe and I agree is that our infrastructure – that is our roads and bridges – are crumbling in America, and that we need to invest in our crumbling infrastructure. And when we do that we create millions of jobs,” he said.

Sanders ended the conversation with a miniature version of the stump speech he has delivered across the country in recent weeks. He stressed a need to create a free college tuition program, support the working class and reform a “corrupt campaign finance system,” lobbyists and Wall Street.

“They are ignoring, to a large degree, the needs of working people, the needs of low-income people, the needs of senior citizens,” Sanders said.

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