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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 205)

She surrendered her deepest secret to put away Larry Nassar

Editor’s note: This story contains explicit details of sexual abuse that may be disturbing to some readers. While the USA TODAY Network’s policy is to not identify victims of sexual assault, Rachael Denhollander has spoken publicly about her abuse and agreed to speak openly for this article.

Rachael Denhollander always wanted to keep it a secret.

The journal she tucked away in a hidden folder contained her most private thoughts, anguished conversations with herself detailing what her doctor, Larry Nassar, had done to her on his exam table.

The moments he penetrated her with his ungloved fingers, his hand hidden under a towel, while making small talk with her mother, just a few feet away.

“Am I hurting you, Rach?” he whispered close to her ear.

Beginning in 2004, Rachael’s cursive handwriting on each page detailed her vulnerability and her doubts that God cared. She feared she was somehow impure for her future husband.

“Save me O’ God,” she wrote on the first line of the first page.

No one was ever supposed to see that journal — certainly not the man who so horrifically violated her.

Nassar, once a famed sports medicine doctor, had stolen so much — her innocence, her trust, her relationship with her own body. It was the very same thing, the world would later learn, that he’d done to more than 300 other women and girls.

His abuse went on for decades. Olympians. College athletes. Young gymnasts. Women and girls who sought his help. And the 6-year-old daughter of family friends.

What Nassar couldn’t have were Rachael’s deepest thoughts. For 12 years, she locked them away in 31 loose-leaf pages, until the moment she knew they could stop him.

So, Rachael made a sacrifice.

This deeply private woman — a mother of four, a lawyer and devoted wife to Jacob Denhollander — who never cries, who shows perfect poise, made the choice to turn over her most tender thoughts to police. She hoped the evidence could finally protect the little girls she couldn’t save before.

In August 2016, Rachael, now 34, became the first woman to publicly say that Nassar, a former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor, sexually abused her. Her account sparked one of the largest sexual assault cases in U.S. history.

Her presence and sacrifice helped drive the stake that banished Nassar to prison for the rest of his life.

Rachael Denhollander

The worst part of testifying was having to talk about the impact because that’s what Larry always wanted to know. And that was the one thing I always kept from him, and I couldn’t this time.

But that came at a price: It forever tied her name to his. And it gave him what she never wanted him to have.

“It’s a window,” she said. “You don’t give people windows because then you’re vulnerable.

“The worst part of testifying was having to talk about the impact because that’s what Larry always wanted to know. And that was the one thing I always kept from him, and I couldn’t this time.”

None of this is what Rachael wanted.

Given the choice, she’d gladly slip back into anonymity at home in Louisville.

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Rachael Denhollander straps her daughter, Elora, onto her back so that she can bake a cake with her other children at their former home in Louisville. May 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

But she’s steadfast in her call to do what’s right, no matter the cost.

And for Rachael, what’s right is to travel the country to speak out for abused women and girls, to remind them of their intrinsic worth and to challenge churches, universities and sports programs to do the right thing when allegations of abuse are exposed.

This mission means more time away from family and the weight of reliving her story at the podium or in interviews every day.

But she remains faithful.

“You do the best with what you’re given,” Rachael said. “And one day, I’m given changing diapers and teaching kids to read, and the next day this is what I’m given. And then you flip back and forth. And you do the best you can.”

Those closest to Rachael see God’s hand in shaping her mission. She agrees her preparation was no accident. Debate camp. Law school. A supportive family. Faith.

What fortified her to come forward has sustained her these past three years as she’s endured shifts in her identify, her privacy and her duty.

But Rachael doesn’t believe God purposely put her in harm’s way, nor any of the hundreds of other girls Nassar assaulted.

‘Goodness and evil exist in opposition to each other’ – Rachael Denhollander

Denhollander still grieves for the abuse she endured but finds some solace in “Just being able to speak the truth.”

Michael Clevenger, Louisville Courier Journal

“I don’t think God reaches down and puppet masters evil,” she said. “Evil exists that has a different origin. It’s going to be there. It’s better to be able to do something about it than not be able to do anything.

“So, in a sense, yes, I wish it wasn’t me. I’m also very glad it didn’t have to be anybody else.”

Wearing a clearance-rack dress and her signature self-described Disney princess ponytail over her shoulder, Rachael sat on a downtown Birmingham, Alabama, stage on a summer night in June with five other pastors and advocates.

The Southern Baptist Convention officially would convene the next morning, but this night was billed as a conversation about sexual abuse within the network of churches amid a national scandal enveloping the denomination.

More than a thousand Southern Baptists filled the convention center hall. Most only learned about Rachael 17 months earlier, at the end of Nassar’s criminal cases when the world was captivated by her story and the stories of 155 other women he had assaulted.

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Rachael Denhollander expresses her thoughts on stage with church leaders during a panel discussion at the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama. June 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

Now a stalwart figure among the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, she didn’t hesitate to condemn Southern Baptist pastors for failing to protect sexual assault victims from predators within the church. 

She was surgical, deliberate, commanding as she spoke into a handheld microphone, never raising her voice — a woman telling men their role in a tradition that largely still doesn’t allow women to preach at all.

“By and large, the survivor community loves the church,” she told the crowd, filled with dozens of pastors, including some who resent her accusations and view her as an adversary.

“They love Jesus. They love the Gospel. I have found my greatest refuge and hope with the Gospel. And our desire is to see the church do this better so that it becomes the refuge it was intended to be.

“… You need to understand the perspective that (survivors) come from. You need to feel the grief and the betrayal and the harm and the hurt that they have felt.”

She wasn’t done.

“I think it is very telling that I have heard hundreds, literally hundreds, of sermons directed on the quiet and submissive sphere that a woman should have. I have heard not one on how to value a woman’s voice. I have heard not one on the issue of sexual assault.

“… As soon as an issue comes along that needs to be fought for, all that masculinity disappears. And the women are left on the front line with you telling them, ‘Be quiet, submissive, fight your battles.’

“Do it. Better. Brothers.”

The applause started before Rachael had finished. A line, mostly of women, formed to meet her before she walked off stage.

Each wanted to hug her, thank her, to tell her they, too, had been abused.

Madeline, an abuse survivor whom the Courier Journal is identifying by her first name, said she watched Rachael ask a simple but powerful question at the end of the Nassar cases in 2018 before he was sentenced — “How much is a little girl worth?”

Madeline cried as she spoke to Rachael.

Rachael held her.

Westlake Legal Group aedb2db0-33da-4ced-9642-d7fcbfa826f9-RachaelDenhollander31 She surrendered her deepest secret to put away Larry Nassar

Rachael Denhollander hugs Madeline, a sexual abuse survivor, after a panel discussion on abuse in the church the night before the Southern Baptist Convention opened in Birmingham, Alabama. Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

Afterward, Madeline spoke about what Rachael meant to her, describing her as a modern-day Martin Luther King Jr.

“She doesn’t know me, and she probably doesn’t know that there are hundreds, thousands of women just watching going, ‘OK, if she can do it, I can do it,'” Madeline said. “But that is what I have said to myself, ‘She can do this. I can do this.'”

Rachael has grown accustomed to the long lines of people who appear after speeches and panels she has attended across the country these past 19 months.

“I just want to give them what they need, as much as I can in that moment,” she said. “To let them know that they’ve been heard. That they have been powerful, they have been strong, that there’s hope.

Rachael Denhollander

I have found my greatest refuge and hope with the Gospel.

“There is life afterwards.”

Rachael walked out of the convention center and returned to her hotel room where her husband and infant daughter awaited. She was exhausted.

“I know she’s very polished and everything when she talks, but it takes a toll on her because she is still an abuse survivor,” Rachael’s husband, Jacob, said. “She still has that trauma in her background. And now she is healed to a certain degree. But … it’s still hard.”

The next morning, Rachael walked through the Birmingham airport, the weight from the previous night’s panel gone for the moment as she held her baby. The flight back to Louisville, connecting through Atlanta, was boarding.

Two more airports and two more flights lay ahead.

This is her life now, the one she chose over the one she truly wants — to be at home with her husband and children.

On a bright summer morning in the Denhollander kitchen, Rachael sat on a wooden countertop stool, 10-month-old Elora’s high chair pulled to her hip.

She read aloud from “Anne of Green Gables,” holding the book in one hand as she reached with the other to put more food on the baby’s tray.

The white, solid-surface countertop showed the aftermath of an earlier nail painting attempt. Pink, green and orange smeared along two sides. 

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Rachael Denhollander reads “Anne of Green Gables” to her children. Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

Hope, whose fourth birthday was fast approaching, knelt on a low-backed chair with tennis balls affixed to the feet to spare the hardwood floor. She wore a pink bicycle helmet covered with Disney princesses as she listened to Rachael read the story.

Jonathon, the 7-year-old, perched on a stool where he could look over Rachael’s shoulder. And Grace, who’s 5, listened at the other end of the table.

One of the girls interrupted to ask for more ham.

“Yes, just a minute,” Rachael said, before jumping back into the story. “Do your potatoes first, OK?”

Rachael raised and lowered her voice for the dialogue between Anne Shirley, the book’s namesake, and Marilla Cuthbert, the woman she’d come to stay with. Marilla suspected Anne had taken her brooch.

“Do you think that her window was open? Magpies?” Jonathan suggested as the potential thieves.

“Oh, magpies is a good guess,” Rachael told him. “I don’t know, we’ll have to read and see.”

“Maybe she’s just not looking in the right drawer,” Grace offered.

“That’s possible,” Rachael said. “That’s a good guess.”

Before she could continue, more interruptions: What’s a magpie? Why didn’t Marilla look behind her? What will happen next?

Rachael cherishes summer mornings like these. All questions and theories, no matter how small or unlikely, are valid — even the ones that confused the plots of “Anne of Green Gables” and “The Hobbit,” the other book they read aloud during the day.

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Rachael Denhollander and her husband, Jacob, share evening prayers and scripture discussion with their children. Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

She finds the results of the children’s antics or experiments — trying to have conversations while chewing food or car tracks on the wall — too funny or ingenious to be a bother.

With Rachael, a home-school teacher, every moment is a teaching moment in the Denhollander house on Louisville’s eastern edge, even during the kids’ summer break.

Rachael’s few moments to herself often don’t come until late at night, when she can reflect on the changes and disruptions her family has endured these past three years.

Three houses. Countless five-hour trips to Michigan for Nassar’s case. Lives in constant transition.

The preparation began long before Rachael knew the name Larry Nassar. 

Nassar wasn’t the first man to sexually abuse Rachael.

She was 7 when a member of her family’s Michigan church inappropriately touched her as she sat on his lap. Rachael told her mother, Camille Moxon, she felt uncomfortable around him but couldn’t explain why.

Some in the congregation saw the special attention the man was giving Rachael. They warned her parents, who distanced the family from the man. But others in the church didn’t believe he could be a predator and thought Rachael’s parents overreacted.

They grew cautious and cold around Rachael, who was still too young to understand. All she knew was that people she loved — people she thought loved her — stopped cuddling her or holding her in their laps.

The experience sparked the first lie Rachael told herself: If you can’t absolutely prove the abuse, don’t speak up because it will cost you everything. 

Four years later, in 1996, 12-year-old Rachael’s family gathered around the TV to watch the U.S. women’s Olympic team win a gold medal in Atlanta. Her gymnastics career started shortly after that. 

‘How Much Is a Little Girl Worth?’ read by author Rachael Denhollander

Denhollander penned the illustrated children’s book that reveals many of the ideals that she holds dear.

Michael Clevenger, Louisville Courier Journal

She was a little girl in love with the sport — the hand grips, the old mechanic’s garage where her team worked out, her time with teammates.

Rachael wasn’t a star. She didn’t have the typical gymnast physique and only advanced to the lowest competitive level, but the acrobatics and maneuvers made her feel like she was flying.

Still, the practices took a toll on Rachael. She injured her back so severely when she was 15 that she would wake up with a numb leg. She also had a lingering wrist injury. But she wanted back on the mat, back with her teammates.

She wanted to fly again.

So in early 2000, Rachael and her mother drove 70 miles from Kalamazoo to East Lansing to see Nassar. They walked down the medical clinic hallway, past photos of Olympians, both in awe that a doctor who worked with gold medalists had made time for them. If anyone could help her, mother and daughter hoped, Nassar could. 

The abuse began during Rachael’s very first appointment.

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Rachael Denhollander testifies at a preliminary hearing for former MSU doctor Larry Nassar Friday, May 12, 2017. Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal

During appointments over the years that followed, Rachael lay on his exam table, her head toward her mother, sometimes wearing baggy athletic shorts or covered with a towel. Nassar positioned himself so Rachael’s mother couldn’t see his hands.

Rachael had no idea her mother didn’t know what Nassar was doing when he was supposed to be treating her back.

She lay on the table feeling humiliated and degraded as Nassar penetrated her vagina with his fingers. Sometimes for as long as 40 minutes.

“The best I could figure was it had to be legitimate,” Rachael said, looking back. “He couldn’t be the national team physician, he couldn’t be teaching osteopathic medicine, he couldn’t be this revered physician if he wasn’t doing legitimate medicine.”

This was the second lie Rachael told herself: That Nassar, because of who he was, couldn’t be an abuser.

But still, she’d lay in bed at night shaking her head, trying to reconcile how she felt with the lies she believed. She balled her hands into fists and dug her fingernails into her palms, the pain giving her mind somewhere to focus.

Then came the third lie she told herself: She was the problem and couldn’t trust her instincts.

On one of the final appointments, Nassar massaged her breast. She didn’t scream or cry or reach out to her mother.

She froze.

That was the last time he abused her. He stopped scheduling her for appointments in late 2001. She never got an answer as to why he stopped. Maybe he lost interest or got what he wanted, she thought.

The damage from the abuse continued to fester. Rachael became uncomfortable around men, tensing if they stood behind her.

She had nightmares about hands and about the abuse. In some nightmares, she was assaulted by someone other than Nassar, someone she knew or loved.  

After noticing her daughter’s changed behavior, Rachael’s mom pushed for details. Rachael told her that Nassar molested her and that she saw him sexually aroused during one appointment.

Her mother asked: Do you want to go to the police?

This was the first time, but not last, Rachael faced this question.

She wanted to do something because she doubted she was Nassar’s only victim and didn’t think he’d stop abusing. But she didn’t know what.

Could she come forward and keep her identity hidden? Would anyone believe her?

Too many questions without answers. Too many barriers for a teenager to navigate.

Rachael felt despair set in along with the reality that there was nothing she could do. 

“Silence seemed safer,” she said.

Years passed. Bearing the abuse and trauma in her mind alone wasn’t working, so she resolved to find a way.

On May 5, 2004, Rachael picked a folder with babies on the cover, a happy and innocuous image, thinking people would leave it alone if they found it. 

Page by page Rachael filled up her folder.

“How do you explain to someone the confusion, sick feeling, and shame without knowing why?” she wrote on one page.

“It was never the hand in the dark,” she wrote on another. “It was always the hand I held. And it’s your fault all over again, because it never would have happened if you hadn’t trusted.”

At one point she wrote: “I was too terrified and ashamed, (too) confused, to understand back then, but the price for not understanding then, is that no one understands now. What I thought was my fault then, most think is my fault now.”

Despite the trauma and shame, Rachael dove into topics she loved — law, debate and public policy. She passed the bar by 25, excelled at mock appellate arguments and thought of a career as a constitutional lawyer, arguing before the Supreme Court.

And she wanted a family. She’d been planning it for decades. 

That plan began to come together in 2006 when Rachael met her future husband in the comments sections of a satire blog. 

Westlake Legal Group 02b91d44-8213-4e5b-a4eb-95423809ebae-RachaelDenhollander43 She surrendered her deepest secret to put away Larry Nassar

Rachael Denhollander and husband, Jacob, talk inside their home during a promotional video shoot for Rachael’s upcoming book. June 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

From the same little desk where she sat and wondered whether Nassar had stolen something irreplaceable from her, she also wrote to Jacob Denhollander.

Her messages went from her home in Kalamazoo to his in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

Jacob lived on a mountain with lots of books and little siblings, which appealed to Rachael’s heart. They had the same religious convictions — that you need to live your faith constantly — and the same sense of humor, which reflected their love of classic literature and sometimes more than a hint of sarcasm.

After a year of emails, Jacob flew to Kalamazoo so they could finally meet face to face, at the baggage claim at the airport.

“He had really nice eyes,” Rachael recalled.

Within days, Rachael could see a life with Jacob. He, on the other hand, wondered what he could add to the life of this smart, capable woman he was falling in love with.

Rachael knew before he left she had to reveal the secret she’d kept locked away. She had to know if she could trust him — if he believed her.

Rachael told Jacob when the two went for a walk. She kept her eyes down waiting on his response.

Jacob believed her, and now knew what he could bring to the relationship. He could support and protect her.

He could be the one person she let see inside her heart.

Westlake Legal Group c9f1eb0f-7eae-43a8-8c8b-9b1b1c87b977-RachaelDenhollander154lr She surrendered her deepest secret to put away Larry Nassar

Learning to patient and helping Rachael grieve is one of the ways that Jacob helps his wife. On her toughest days he would wrap her in a blanket and hold her. August 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

They married in 2009 and in 2012 moved to Louisville, where Jacob started at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

By 2016, they had three children under age 5 and lived in a tiny, 1,000-square-foot home in the city’s Clifton Heights neighborhood. Rachael home-schooled the two older children.

They loved it because they were so close.

Then one August morning in 2016, Rachael opened her computer to type up a grocery list. She saw an Indianapolis Star article trending on Facebook: USA Gymnastics had covered up sexual abuse complaints against coaches for decades.

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Larry Nassar Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK

In that moment, her life changed.

She read the story over and over while holding her baby daughter, thinking about all the little girls in the story who had been sexually assaulted. She knew there was another abuser, one who remained unmasked: Larry Nassar. 

Rachael laid the baby’s head on her shoulder and took a deep breath. Merely thinking of what might happen if she came forward made her feel like she might vomit.

Her body flushed with sudden fear that wouldn’t fade.

Fifteen years after her abuse ended, Rachael had reached a good place in her healing. The flashbacks and nightmare were less frequent. She had the life she wanted.

But she thought back to the night before she turned 25, when she couldn’t sleep, thinking that the milestone birthday pushed her case against Nassar past the criminal statute of limitations in Michigan.

Rachael Denhollander

So, in a sense, yes, I wish it wasn’t me. I’m also very glad it didn’t have to be anybody else.

But now, she thought, even if Nassar could never be charged with abusing her, her voice could help other girls.

She opened up her email and began to type.

“I recently read the article titled ‘Out of Balance’ published by the IndyStar. My experience may not be relevant to your investigation, but I am emailing to report an incident,” she wrote to the newspaper, giving them a new name.

“… I have seen little hope that any light would be shed by coming forward, so I have remained quiet. If there is a possibility that is changing, I will come forward as publicly as necessary.”

In late August 2016, Rachael sat in her Louisville living room and told two journalists, both men, from The Indianapolis Star what she had kept to herself for half her life.

Rachael had to tell the whole truth. The journalists were there for hours, and once the camera started recording, Rachael never took a break.

Westlake Legal Group 42be70f4-8d25-48ea-86fe-d15669283e93-newpagetear She surrendered her deepest secret to put away Larry Nassar

Rachael Denhollander spoke out about Larry Nassar’s abuse after reading a report in The Indianapolis Star detailing how USA Gymnastics had covered up sexual abuse complaints against coaches for decades. FILE

“It’s very difficult to come forward against somebody who’s as prominent as he is,” she told them.

Starting when Rachael was 15, she told the reporters, Larry Nassar unhooked her bra and massaged her breasts. He penetrated her with his fingers. Her mother was there for all of it, even though she didn’t know what was happening. That’s why Rachael didn’t stop it.

Jacob sat near Rachael, listening to details he’d never heard before.

Rachael knew other victims would read her story. She wanted them to know they weren’t alone.

The journalists left and Rachael walked up to Jacob. She smiled as he wrapped his arms around her and she fell against him, exhausted and unsure what came next.

Days later, they drove to the Michigan State University Police Department — to people she feared might protect Nassar — because she’d learned the statute of limitations hadn’t expired. The detective needed to know everything.

From the moment she decided to come forward, Rachael knew she’d have to sacrifice more than anonymity. She knew she’d have to surrender her deepest thoughts. She dug her journal out of storage and mailed it to police.

Her secrets were no longer hers.

Handing over journal was ‘incredibly violating’ – Rachael Denhollander

Denhollander kept a journal about how Larry Nassar’s abuse affected her. She had to give that to the prosecutor in the case and it still haunts her.

Michael Clevenger, Louisville Courier Journal

Doing the right thing began to exact its toll. Rachael lost weight. She was often sick and lightheaded, with a constant sense of being unsafe and exposed both emotionally and physically.

The family was at a church festival on a day she thought the article would publish. She was too emotionally drained to plan Jonathan’s fifth birthday party.

“I felt like I was just robbed of those experiences,” she said. “That my kids were robbed of having me present.”

Nine months after going to police, Rachael sat 10 feet away from Nassar in a dark courtroom in Michigan, its walls closer than she had expected.

She sat for more than two hours during a hearing to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to take the case to trial. She described every horrid detail of her abuse, even raising her hands to show how Nassar violated her.

“At the point that I relinquished my privacy, there was a train that just wasn’t going to stop. And I knew that,” Rachael said.

“Anything I testified to, all of those details, it was tied to me. And there was no way to stop that. … So if there’s not a way to stop it — maximize it for the benefit.”

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Rachael Denhollander answers questions from Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis during a preliminary hearing for Larry Nassar in 55th District Court in Mason, Michigan on May 12, 2017. Nassar is seated just behind Povilaitis.. Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal

That’s why Rachael took the unusual step to insist the courtroom be open to media, with no restrictions on what could be shown or reported. This way, Nassar couldn’t hide, and she gave other victims a glimpse of the courtroom. 

There was the contentious cross-examination from one of Nassar’s attorneys, who questioned Rachael on why she spent so much time building and preparing her case before going to police. 

“I’m an attorney,” Rachael replied. “I knew what you would ask.”

In many ways, this day was worse than the abuse itself, Rachael said. There was an audience now, inside and outside the courtroom.

She was physically and emotionally exhausted.

Jacob got a hotel room so Rachael could have some space to process the day. He held her, and they talked, his touch and presence a way to imprint good memories over the bad in Rachael’s mind. It’s what Jacob could be that no one else could. 

The torment of the case wasn’t over.

Over the months that followed, Rachael looked at her daughters practicing ballet or reading and she couldn’t help but see all the little girls Nassar abused, the ones she was now trying to protect.

Little girls and grown women dragged into the case, whose wounds were reopened because of her. Little girls and women who didn’t know they’d been sexually abused because they still believed those lies.

That is, until Rachael spoke up.

She kept talking to reporters, which triggered more nightmares but brought more women and girls forward, strengthening the case.

As 2017 neared an end, the case took an unexpected turn. Nassar’s attorneys reached out to state prosecutors looking for a plea deal. But If Nassar wanted to avoid a trial, the prosecutor had conditions. Chief among them: that every victim be given the chance to speak in during his sentencing. 

So starting on the morning of Jan. 16, 2018, Rachael sat in courtrooms over three weeks and listened as 203 women and girls voiced their trauma and pain.

She wanted to hear every word.

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Rachael Denhollander, left, is introduced by Assistant Attorney General Angela Povaliatis, before she makes the final victim impact statement Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Ingham County Circuit Court. MATTHEW DAE SMITH/Lansing State Journal

On Feb. 5, 2018, Nassar walked out through a corner of the courtroom wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, his hands folded and cuffed to the waist restraint. He looked down as he disappeared through the doorway on his way to prison. 

TV satellite trucks lined the road in front of the courthouse.

Rachael stood inside, surrounded by reporters and cameras, microphones held out to capture her words. Camera lights lit up her face.

“We have taken care of one perpetrator,” she told reporters. “We have not taken care of the systems that allowed him to flourish for 20 years.”

In that moment, Rachael fully embraced her role as an advocate.

“What do you do when you have something that’s important to do,” she said later, “and you can do it very well, and you don’t want to do it?”

She wrapped herself in a pink blanket late at night and started writing her memoir — “What is a Girl Worth?” And then a children’s book with a similar name — “How Much is a Little Girl Worth?” 

She continued the interviews, pushing for reforms at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. She crisscrossed the country, meeting with victims and lawmakers, pushing for new laws in such places as Michigan and Vermont.

Rachael Denhollander

We have taken care of one perpetrator. We have not taken care of the systems that allowed him to flourish for 20 years.

She spoke out about sexual abuse scandals involving a doctor at the University of Southern California, within the Catholic Church and in the Southern Baptist community.

Not everyone was receptive to her message.

“Everybody’s really appreciative of what I did with Larry, because everybody knows who Larry is now,” she said. “Everybody got to see. But when I speak up with the church community, well that’s different for a good number of people. When I speak up about certain politicians on both sides of the aisle, well that’s different. When I speak up against certain sports teams or other universities, well that’s different.

“Everybody has that instinctive community response. And the real test for how much we understand the dynamics of abuse, and how committed we are, is what we do when it’s in our own community. What do we do when it will cost?”

Westlake Legal Group a6bb63ce-e8c4-451d-bc7b-3358d39fff49-JRW_POY_2018_54 She surrendered her deepest secret to put away Larry Nassar

Rachael Denhollander holds her speech and a tissue after delivering her impact statement in front of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar inside Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. Jenna Watson/IndyStar

The truth is, the outcomes in the Nassar cases — the convictions and long prison sentences and some semblance of justice — were never as inevitable as they seemed when it was all over. And the possibility that Rachael’s efforts and sacrifices could have ended unsuccessfully was never far from her mind.

Rachael needed The Indianapolis Star reporters to write the story that prompted her to come forward. She needed the detective who believed her and the prosecutor who saw her case and the others as worth the fight.

There were hundreds of women and girls who followed Rachael in telling their stories of abuse and trauma, their collective voices becoming too loud for the world to ignore.

Someone needed to sacrifice to start it all. That was Rachael. 

“He didn’t remember who I was anymore,” she said of Nassar. “He didn’t remember what he did. But he does now. I don’t like that. I don’t get to be forgotten anymore.

“And I think some of that, I guess, could be a power thing. ‘Well, he’ll remember me forever.’ But it’s not like that. That’s not how I feel about it. I would rather be one of the hundreds that he doesn’t remember anymore because he did it so much.”

Rachael knows #MeToo and #ChurchToo hashtags alone won’t get victims into a prosecutor’s office, a courtroom or a therapy appointment. That’s why she steps to the podium, meets with victims and grants interviews when she’d rather be home reading to her children.

“I’m a Calvinist, so I think God has a plan for everything,” her husband, Jacob, said. “But I think that in some cases, you definitely see his providence more clearly than in other instances.

“The question becomes, I think, was she prepared for exposing Larry Nassar or was Larry Nassar preparing her for something else? And I’m becoming more convinced that Larry Nassar was preparing her for something else.”

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All eyes are on Rachael Denhollander as she speaks at a fundraiser in Wyoming. June 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

Rachael stood at a lectern in a sunshine-flooded dining room at the Teton Pines Resort and Country Club on a clear Wyoming morning in late June and told her story once again. 

The abuse from both men. The lies she once told herself.

“Not facing the reality of what I had lost and the damage that was done seemed less painful,” she said to the group gathered at a fundraiser for sexual assault and domestic violence victims. “But in reality, it kept me from the truth, and it kept me from healing.”

Rachael Denhollander

Larry did abuse most of his victims right in front of their parents.

The crowd of 150 advocates, law enforcement members and donors gasped when Rachael told them about the institutional failures at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics that allowed Nassar’s abuse to go on for so long. They sat captivated.

Unlike most trips where Rachael tries to minimize time away from the kids, this one was a family vacation. As Rachael spoke, Jacob and the four children explored exhibits in the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum.

She spoke again that afternoon to another group, delivering a similar message.

“We have to start understanding how abusers wield the circumstances around them to make abuse seem impossible,” she told the crowd. “Larry did abuse most of his victims right in front of their parents.

“And that really was, I think, one of the most horrific things he did. Because the reality that most parents have to grapple with is that they sat there and watched their daughters get molested, and they had no idea what was happening.”

A line waited for her shortly after her speech. People stopped her on the way to thank her.

They see her as a champion for their cause. A hero. A light in the darkness. 

But Rachael’s nightmares remain. Her wounds are permanent. She doesn’t yet know how to fully heal.

“I’ve talked about seeing a counselor, just to have somebody to talk to besides (Jacob), because he carries it a lot,” Rachael said. “I just don’t know if I want to add one more thing to my schedule, if that makes sense. Like it’s just, it’s so busy.

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Rachael Denhollander and her husband, Jacob, travel in a tram at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. June 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

“I don’t know ultimately if it would end up helping or just be frustrating because it’s one more thing to do.” 

During their time in Wyoming, Rachael hoped to re-create a vacation she went on with her family when she was 12. A time before Larry Nassar. A trip filled with memories she still treasures: hiking and praying with her family, and her father reading “The Hobbit” aloud while nature surrounded them.

On this sunny June morning, Rachael, Jacob and their children started their hike in the Teton mountain range up a twisting path, each turn getting them closer to the Hidden Falls, the first stop.

“It’s called hidden waterfall because it’s like a secret,” Rachael told Hope.

They reached the falls, stopping for a snack break and to take in the rushing falls. They carried on up the mountain with periodic stops so the kids could do some amateur “bouldering” up and down small rock faces along the path.

Grace is already developing an interest in gymnastics. She borrows Rachael’s phone to watch gymnastics videos online, and Rachael worries about what else she might find.

Jonathan has already asked what a pedophile is. It’s a crime, they told him.

“Every once in a while they tell everybody their mom’s famous,” Rachael said. “It’s weird. We try to really temper that because I’m not famous, but that’s the impression they have because I was on TV.”

The older kids don’t remember much of life before the case, but they’ve sacrificed just as Jacob and Rachael have. Grace and Hope missed ballet lessons. Jonathan missed a hockey season.

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Rachael Denhollander finds peace in the Tetons with her family. Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

This was part of the consequences of sin, Rachael told them, and it goes much further than they know.

One day, Rachael and Jacob will have to tell their children what their sacrifices were for. 

But on this day, as the midday sun warmed the walk, the Denhollanders left the forest behind for rocky and twisting passages, the elevation rising.

When they reached Inspiration Point, at the 7,200-foot mark, the path widened and led to a plateau.

Rachael looked out over a skyline that stretched for miles, happy once again to be in the mountains.

“They’re immovable. They’re always there,” she said. “I think they’re just an incredible combination of strength and beauty both. I mean, you see that a lot in nature, but they don’t change. They’ve planted themselves and they are going to stay. They’re not moving, not for anybody.

“And yet they’re just indescribably beautiful at the same time. I love that combination. It’s very restful. It’s secure.”

Grace, Hope and Jonathan sat along the ridge as Jacob read aloud from “The Hobbit.”

Rachael stood behind them, her eyes on Elora, sound asleep on her chest, little legs poking out of pink pants as Rachael’s arms cradled her and her dreams.

Soon they’d start the hike back down, a family vacation coming to an end, with Rachael’s other life waiting to pull her away.

The autumn will be filled with a national book tour and more speaking engagements, and all that accompanies those things: More postponed healing. More nightmares. More sacrifices.

But up here on this mountain, Rachael brushed the hair from Elora’s sleeping face, leaned down and kissed her head.

In this moment, Rachael is where she always wanted to be.

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Tetons Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org and receive confidential support.

Follow report Matt Mencarini onTwitter: @MattMencarini

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Meghan Markle, David Beckham Mourn Peter Lindbergh’s Death At 74

Glowing tributes poured in for Peter Lindbergh after the renowned fashion photographer died on Tuesday. He was 74. 

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Peter Lindbergh on September 3rd 2019, at the age of 74,” read a statement on Lindbergh’s Instagram page that was posted on Wednesday. “He is survived by his wife Petra, his first wife Astrid, his four sons Benjamin, Jérémy, Simon, Joseph and seven grandchildren. He leaves a big void.” 

Celebrity friends and collaborators, including Meghan Markle, David Beckham, Linda Evangelista and more, remembered the famed German photographer’s genius and his kindness. 

The Duchess of Sussex spoke of her recent collaboration with Lindbergh for Meghan’s guest-edited September Issue of British Vogue. Lindbergh photographed 15 “Forces of Change” for the cover. 

“His work is revered globally for capturing the essence of a subject and promoting healthy ideals of beauty, eschewing photoshopping, and preferring natural beauty with minimal makeup,” read a statement on the Sussex Royal Instagram page, alongside a photo of Lindbergh and Meghan smiling together.

“‘Forces for Change’ was the [sic] one of the esteemed photographer’s final published projects. He will be deeply missed.” 

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Instagram The two recently worked together on Meghan’s guest-edited issue of Vogue. 

David Beckham also posted a sweet tribute to his friend by way of a black and white Instagram photographer of the two and a heartbreaking salutation. 

“I’m finding it difficult to come up with the words to explain how much I loved, admired and respected Peter,” the former soccer player wrote. “Not only was he an incredible talent, but he was one of the kindest and most inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. We have lost a legend and an amazing human being…” 

Iconic ’90s supermodel Linda Evangelista, who was photographed by Lindbergh countless times, said she was also “heartbroken” by his death. 

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

She surrendered her deepest secret to put away Larry Nassar

Editor’s note: This story contains explicit details of sexual abuse that may be disturbing to some readers. While the USA TODAY Network’s policy is to not identify victims of sexual assault, Rachael Denhollander has spoken publicly about her abuse and agreed to speak openly for this article.

Rachael Denhollander always wanted to keep it a secret.

The journal she tucked away in a hidden folder contained her most private thoughts, anguished conversations with herself detailing what her doctor, Larry Nassar, had done to her on his exam table.

The moments he penetrated her with his ungloved fingers, his hand hidden under a towel, while making small talk with her mother, just a few feet away.

“Am I hurting you, Rach?” he whispered close to her ear.

Beginning in 2004, Rachael’s cursive handwriting on each page detailed her vulnerability and her doubts that God cared. She feared she was somehow impure for her future husband.

“Save me O’ God,” she wrote on the first line of the first page.

No one was ever supposed to see that journal — certainly not the man who so horrifically violated her.

Nassar, once a famed sports medicine doctor, had stolen so much — her innocence, her trust, her relationship with her own body. It was the very same thing, the world would later learn, that he’d done to more than 300 other women and girls.

His abuse went on for decades. Olympians. College athletes. Young gymnasts. Women and girls who sought his help. And the 6-year-old daughter of family friends.

What Nassar couldn’t have were Rachael’s deepest thoughts. For 12 years, she locked them away in 31 loose-leaf pages, until the moment she knew they could stop him.

So, Rachael made a sacrifice.

This deeply private woman — a mother of four, a lawyer and devoted wife to Jacob Denhollander — who never cries, who shows perfect poise, made the choice to turn over her most tender thoughts to police. She hoped the evidence could finally protect the little girls she couldn’t save before.

In August 2016, Rachael, now 34, became the first woman to publicly say that Nassar, a former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor, sexually abused her. Her account sparked one of the largest sexual assault cases in U.S. history.

Her presence and sacrifice helped drive the stake that banished Nassar to prison for the rest of his life.

Rachael Denhollander

The worst part of testifying was having to talk about the impact because that’s what Larry always wanted to know. And that was the one thing I always kept from him, and I couldn’t this time.

But that came at a price: It forever tied her name to his. And it gave him what she never wanted him to have.

“It’s a window,” she said. “You don’t give people windows because then you’re vulnerable.

“The worst part of testifying was having to talk about the impact because that’s what Larry always wanted to know. And that was the one thing I always kept from him, and I couldn’t this time.”

None of this is what Rachael wanted.

Given the choice, she’d gladly slip back into anonymity at home in Louisville.

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Rachael Denhollander straps her daughter, Elora, onto her back so that she can bake a cake with her other children at their former home in Louisville. May 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

But she’s steadfast in her call to do what’s right, no matter the cost.

And for Rachael, what’s right is to travel the country to speak out for abused women and girls, to remind them of their intrinsic worth and to challenge churches, universities and sports programs to do the right thing when allegations of abuse are exposed.

This mission means more time away from family and the weight of reliving her story at the podium or in interviews every day.

But she remains faithful.

“You do the best with what you’re given,” Rachael said. “And one day, I’m given changing diapers and teaching kids to read, and the next day this is what I’m given. And then you flip back and forth. And you do the best you can.”

Those closest to Rachael see God’s hand in shaping her mission. She agrees her preparation was no accident. Debate camp. Law school. A supportive family. Faith.

What fortified her to come forward has sustained her these past three years as she’s endured shifts in her identify, her privacy and her duty.

But Rachael doesn’t believe God purposely put her in harm’s way, nor any of the hundreds of other girls Nassar assaulted.

‘Goodness and evil exist in opposition to each other’ – Rachael Denhollander

Denhollander still grieves for the abuse she endured but finds some solace in “Just being able to speak the truth.”

Michael Clevenger, Louisville Courier Journal

“I don’t think God reaches down and puppet masters evil,” she said. “Evil exists that has a different origin. It’s going to be there. It’s better to be able to do something about it than not be able to do anything.

“So, in a sense, yes, I wish it wasn’t me. I’m also very glad it didn’t have to be anybody else.”

Wearing a clearance-rack dress and her signature self-described Disney princess ponytail over her shoulder, Rachael sat on a downtown Birmingham, Alabama, stage on a summer night in June with five other pastors and advocates.

The Southern Baptist Convention officially would convene the next morning, but this night was billed as a conversation about sexual abuse within the network of churches amid a national scandal enveloping the denomination.

More than a thousand Southern Baptists filled the convention center hall. Most only learned about Rachael 17 months earlier, at the end of Nassar’s criminal cases when the world was captivated by her story and the stories of 155 other women he had assaulted.

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Rachael Denhollander expresses her thoughts on stage with church leaders during a panel discussion at the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama. June 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

Now a stalwart figure among the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, she didn’t hesitate to condemn Southern Baptist pastors for failing to protect sexual assault victims from predators within the church. 

She was surgical, deliberate, commanding as she spoke into a handheld microphone, never raising her voice — a woman telling men their role in a tradition that largely still doesn’t allow women to preach at all.

“By and large, the survivor community loves the church,” she told the crowd, filled with dozens of pastors, including some who resent her accusations and view her as an adversary.

“They love Jesus. They love the Gospel. I have found my greatest refuge and hope with the Gospel. And our desire is to see the church do this better so that it becomes the refuge it was intended to be.

“… You need to understand the perspective that (survivors) come from. You need to feel the grief and the betrayal and the harm and the hurt that they have felt.”

She wasn’t done.

“I think it is very telling that I have heard hundreds, literally hundreds, of sermons directed on the quiet and submissive sphere that a woman should have. I have heard not one on how to value a woman’s voice. I have heard not one on the issue of sexual assault.

“… As soon as an issue comes along that needs to be fought for, all that masculinity disappears. And the women are left on the front line with you telling them, ‘Be quiet, submissive, fight your battles.’

“Do it. Better. Brothers.”

The applause started before Rachael had finished. A line, mostly of women, formed to meet her before she walked off stage.

Each wanted to hug her, thank her, to tell her they, too, had been abused.

Madeline, an abuse survivor whom the Courier Journal is identifying by her first name, said she watched Rachael ask a simple but powerful question at the end of the Nassar cases in 2018 before he was sentenced — “How much is a little girl worth?”

Madeline cried as she spoke to Rachael.

Rachael held her.

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Rachael Denhollander hugs Madeline, a sexual abuse survivor, after a panel discussion on abuse in the church the night before the Southern Baptist Convention opened in Birmingham, Alabama. Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

Afterward, Madeline spoke about what Rachael meant to her, describing her as a modern-day Martin Luther King Jr.

“She doesn’t know me, and she probably doesn’t know that there are hundreds, thousands of women just watching going, ‘OK, if she can do it, I can do it,'” Madeline said. “But that is what I have said to myself, ‘She can do this. I can do this.'”

Rachael has grown accustomed to the long lines of people who appear after speeches and panels she has attended across the country these past 19 months.

“I just want to give them what they need, as much as I can in that moment,” she said. “To let them know that they’ve been heard. That they have been powerful, they have been strong, that there’s hope.

Rachael Denhollander

I have found my greatest refuge and hope with the Gospel.

“There is life afterwards.”

Rachael walked out of the convention center and returned to her hotel room where her husband and infant daughter awaited. She was exhausted.

“I know she’s very polished and everything when she talks, but it takes a toll on her because she is still an abuse survivor,” Rachael’s husband, Jacob, said. “She still has that trauma in her background. And now she is healed to a certain degree. But … it’s still hard.”

The next morning, Rachael walked through the Birmingham airport, the weight from the previous night’s panel gone for the moment as she held her baby. The flight back to Louisville, connecting through Atlanta, was boarding.

Two more airports and two more flights lay ahead.

This is her life now, the one she chose over the one she truly wants — to be at home with her husband and children.

On a bright summer morning in the Denhollander kitchen, Rachael sat on a wooden countertop stool, 10-month-old Elora’s high chair pulled to her hip.

She read aloud from “Anne of Green Gables,” holding the book in one hand as she reached with the other to put more food on the baby’s tray.

The white, solid-surface countertop showed the aftermath of an earlier nail painting attempt. Pink, green and orange smeared along two sides. 

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Rachael Denhollander reads “Anne of Green Gables” to her children. Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

Hope, whose fourth birthday was fast approaching, knelt on a low-backed chair with tennis balls affixed to the feet to spare the hardwood floor. She wore a pink bicycle helmet covered with Disney princesses as she listened to Rachael read the story.

Jonathon, the 7-year-old, perched on a stool where he could look over Rachael’s shoulder. And Grace, who’s 5, listened at the other end of the table.

One of the girls interrupted to ask for more ham.

“Yes, just a minute,” Rachael said, before jumping back into the story. “Do your potatoes first, OK?”

Rachael raised and lowered her voice for the dialogue between Anne Shirley, the book’s namesake, and Marilla Cuthbert, the woman she’d come to stay with. Marilla suspected Anne had taken her brooch.

“Do you think that her window was open? Magpies?” Jonathan suggested as the potential thieves.

“Oh, magpies is a good guess,” Rachael told him. “I don’t know, we’ll have to read and see.”

“Maybe she’s just not looking in the right drawer,” Grace offered.

“That’s possible,” Rachael said. “That’s a good guess.”

Before she could continue, more interruptions: What’s a magpie? Why didn’t Marilla look behind her? What will happen next?

Rachael cherishes summer mornings like these. All questions and theories, no matter how small or unlikely, are valid — even the ones that confused the plots of “Anne of Green Gables” and “The Hobbit,” the other book they read aloud during the day.

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Rachael Denhollander and her husband, Jacob, share evening prayers and scripture discussion with their children. Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

She finds the results of the children’s antics or experiments — trying to have conversations while chewing food or car tracks on the wall — too funny or ingenious to be a bother.

With Rachael, a home-school teacher, every moment is a teaching moment in the Denhollander house on Louisville’s eastern edge, even during the kids’ summer break.

Rachael’s few moments to herself often don’t come until late at night, when she can reflect on the changes and disruptions her family has endured these past three years.

Three houses. Countless five-hour trips to Michigan for Nassar’s case. Lives in constant transition.

The preparation began long before Rachael knew the name Larry Nassar. 

Nassar wasn’t the first man to sexually abuse Rachael.

She was 7 when a member of her family’s Michigan church inappropriately touched her as she sat on his lap. Rachael told her mother, Camille Moxon, she felt uncomfortable around him but couldn’t explain why.

Some in the congregation saw the special attention the man was giving Rachael. They warned her parents, who distanced the family from the man. But others in the church didn’t believe he could be a predator and thought Rachael’s parents overreacted.

They grew cautious and cold around Rachael, who was still too young to understand. All she knew was that people she loved — people she thought loved her — stopped cuddling her or holding her in their laps.

The experience sparked the first lie Rachael told herself: If you can’t absolutely prove the abuse, don’t speak up because it will cost you everything. 

Four years later, in 1996, 12-year-old Rachael’s family gathered around the TV to watch the U.S. women’s Olympic team win a gold medal in Atlanta. Her gymnastics career started shortly after that. 

‘How Much Is a Little Girl Worth?’ read by author Rachael Denhollander

Denhollander penned the illustrated children’s book that reveals many of the ideals that she holds dear.

Michael Clevenger, Louisville Courier Journal

She was a little girl in love with the sport — the hand grips, the old mechanic’s garage where her team worked out, her time with teammates.

Rachael wasn’t a star. She didn’t have the typical gymnast physique and only advanced to the lowest competitive level, but the acrobatics and maneuvers made her feel like she was flying.

Still, the practices took a toll on Rachael. She injured her back so severely when she was 15 that she would wake up with a numb leg. She also had a lingering wrist injury. But she wanted back on the mat, back with her teammates.

She wanted to fly again.

So in early 2000, Rachael and her mother drove 70 miles from Kalamazoo to East Lansing to see Nassar. They walked down the medical clinic hallway, past photos of Olympians, both in awe that a doctor who worked with gold medalists had made time for them. If anyone could help her, mother and daughter hoped, Nassar could. 

The abuse began during Rachael’s very first appointment.

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Rachael Denhollander testifies at a preliminary hearing for former MSU doctor Larry Nassar Friday, May 12, 2017. Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal

During appointments over the years that followed, Rachael lay on his exam table, her head toward her mother, sometimes wearing baggy athletic shorts or covered with a towel. Nassar positioned himself so Rachael’s mother couldn’t see his hands.

Rachael had no idea her mother didn’t know what Nassar was doing when he was supposed to be treating her back.

She lay on the table feeling humiliated and degraded as Nassar penetrated her vagina with his fingers. Sometimes for as long as 40 minutes.

“The best I could figure was it had to be legitimate,” Rachael said, looking back. “He couldn’t be the national team physician, he couldn’t be teaching osteopathic medicine, he couldn’t be this revered physician if he wasn’t doing legitimate medicine.”

This was the second lie Rachael told herself: That Nassar, because of who he was, couldn’t be an abuser.

But still, she’d lay in bed at night shaking her head, trying to reconcile how she felt with the lies she believed. She balled her hands into fists and dug her fingernails into her palms, the pain giving her mind somewhere to focus.

Then came the third lie she told herself: She was the problem and couldn’t trust her instincts.

On one of the final appointments, Nassar massaged her breast. She didn’t scream or cry or reach out to her mother.

She froze.

That was the last time he abused her. He stopped scheduling her for appointments in late 2001. She never got an answer as to why he stopped. Maybe he lost interest or got what he wanted, she thought.

The damage from the abuse continued to fester. Rachael became uncomfortable around men, tensing if they stood behind her.

She had nightmares about hands and about the abuse. In some nightmares, she was assaulted by someone other than Nassar, someone she knew or loved.  

After noticing her daughter’s changed behavior, Rachael’s mom pushed for details. Rachael told her that Nassar molested her and that she saw him sexually aroused during one appointment.

Her mother asked: Do you want to go to the police?

This was the first time, but not last, Rachael faced this question.

She wanted to do something because she doubted she was Nassar’s only victim and didn’t think he’d stop abusing. But she didn’t know what.

Could she come forward and keep her identity hidden? Would anyone believe her?

Too many questions without answers. Too many barriers for a teenager to navigate.

Rachael felt despair set in along with the reality that there was nothing she could do. 

“Silence seemed safer,” she said.

Years passed. Bearing the abuse and trauma in her mind alone wasn’t working, so she resolved to find a way.

On May 5, 2004, Rachael picked a folder with babies on the cover, a happy and innocuous image, thinking people would leave it alone if they found it. 

Page by page Rachael filled up her folder.

“How do you explain to someone the confusion, sick feeling, and shame without knowing why?” she wrote on one page.

“It was never the hand in the dark,” she wrote on another. “It was always the hand I held. And it’s your fault all over again, because it never would have happened if you hadn’t trusted.”

At one point she wrote: “I was too terrified and ashamed, (too) confused, to understand back then, but the price for not understanding then, is that no one understands now. What I thought was my fault then, most think is my fault now.”

Despite the trauma and shame, Rachael dove into topics she loved — law, debate and public policy. She passed the bar by 25, excelled at mock appellate arguments and thought of a career as a constitutional lawyer, arguing before the Supreme Court.

And she wanted a family. She’d been planning it for decades. 

That plan began to come together in 2006 when Rachael met her future husband in the comments sections of a satire blog. 

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Rachael Denhollander and husband, Jacob, talk inside their home during a promotional video shoot for Rachael’s upcoming book. June 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

From the same little desk where she sat and wondered whether Nassar had stolen something irreplaceable from her, she also wrote to Jacob Denhollander.

Her messages went from her home in Kalamazoo to his in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

Jacob lived on a mountain with lots of books and little siblings, which appealed to Rachael’s heart. They had the same religious convictions — that you need to live your faith constantly — and the same sense of humor, which reflected their love of classic literature and sometimes more than a hint of sarcasm.

After a year of emails, Jacob flew to Kalamazoo so they could finally meet face to face, at the baggage claim at the airport.

“He had really nice eyes,” Rachael recalled.

Within days, Rachael could see a life with Jacob. He, on the other hand, wondered what he could add to the life of this smart, capable woman he was falling in love with.

Rachael knew before he left she had to reveal the secret she’d kept locked away. She had to know if she could trust him — if he believed her.

Rachael told Jacob when the two went for a walk. She kept her eyes down waiting on his response.

Jacob believed her, and now knew what he could bring to the relationship. He could support and protect her.

He could be the one person she let see inside her heart.

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Learning to patient and helping Rachael grieve is one of the ways that Jacob helps his wife. On her toughest days he would wrap her in a blanket and hold her. August 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

They married in 2009 and in 2012 moved to Louisville, where Jacob started at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

By 2016, they had three children under age 5 and lived in a tiny, 1,000-square-foot home in the city’s Clifton Heights neighborhood. Rachael home-schooled the two older children.

They loved it because they were so close.

Then one August morning in 2016, Rachael opened her computer to type up a grocery list. She saw an Indianapolis Star article trending on Facebook: USA Gymnastics had covered up sexual abuse complaints against coaches for decades.

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Larry Nassar Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK

In that moment, her life changed.

She read the story over and over while holding her baby daughter, thinking about all the little girls in the story who had been sexually assaulted. She knew there was another abuser, one who remained unmasked: Larry Nassar. 

Rachael laid the baby’s head on her shoulder and took a deep breath. Merely thinking of what might happen if she came forward made her feel like she might vomit.

Her body flushed with sudden fear that wouldn’t fade.

Fifteen years after her abuse ended, Rachael had reached a good place in her healing. The flashbacks and nightmare were less frequent. She had the life she wanted.

But she thought back to the night before she turned 25, when she couldn’t sleep, thinking that the milestone birthday pushed her case against Nassar past the criminal statute of limitations in Michigan.

Rachael Denhollander

So, in a sense, yes, I wish it wasn’t me. I’m also very glad it didn’t have to be anybody else.

But now, she thought, even if Nassar could never be charged with abusing her, her voice could help other girls.

She opened up her email and began to type.

“I recently read the article titled ‘Out of Balance’ published by the IndyStar. My experience may not be relevant to your investigation, but I am emailing to report an incident,” she wrote to the newspaper, giving them a new name.

“… I have seen little hope that any light would be shed by coming forward, so I have remained quiet. If there is a possibility that is changing, I will come forward as publicly as necessary.”

In late August 2016, Rachael sat in her Louisville living room and told two journalists, both men, from The Indianapolis Star what she had kept to herself for half her life.

Rachael had to tell the whole truth. The journalists were there for hours, and once the camera started recording, Rachael never took a break.

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Rachael Denhollander spoke out about Larry Nassar’s abuse after reading a report in The Indianapolis Star detailing how USA Gymnastics had covered up sexual abuse complaints against coaches for decades. FILE

“It’s very difficult to come forward against somebody who’s as prominent as he is,” she told them.

Starting when Rachael was 15, she told the reporters, Larry Nassar unhooked her bra and massaged her breasts. He penetrated her with his fingers. Her mother was there for all of it, even though she didn’t know what was happening. That’s why Rachael didn’t stop it.

Jacob sat near Rachael, listening to details he’d never heard before.

Rachael knew other victims would read her story. She wanted them to know they weren’t alone.

The journalists left and Rachael walked up to Jacob. She smiled as he wrapped his arms around her and she fell against him, exhausted and unsure what came next.

Days later, they drove to the Michigan State University Police Department — to people she feared might protect Nassar — because she’d learned the statute of limitations hadn’t expired. The detective needed to know everything.

From the moment she decided to come forward, Rachael knew she’d have to sacrifice more than anonymity. She knew she’d have to surrender her deepest thoughts. She dug her journal out of storage and mailed it to police.

Her secrets were no longer hers.

Handing over journal was ‘incredibly violating’ – Rachael Denhollander

Denhollander kept a journal about how Larry Nassar’s abuse affected her. She had to give that to the prosecutor in the case and it still haunts her.

Michael Clevenger, Louisville Courier Journal

Doing the right thing began to exact its toll. Rachael lost weight. She was often sick and lightheaded, with a constant sense of being unsafe and exposed both emotionally and physically.

The family was at a church festival on a day she thought the article would publish. She was too emotionally drained to plan Jonathan’s fifth birthday party.

“I felt like I was just robbed of those experiences,” she said. “That my kids were robbed of having me present.”

Nine months after going to police, Rachael sat 10 feet away from Nassar in a dark courtroom in Michigan, its walls closer than she had expected.

She sat for more than two hours during a hearing to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to take the case to trial. She described every horrid detail of her abuse, even raising her hands to show how Nassar violated her.

“At the point that I relinquished my privacy, there was a train that just wasn’t going to stop. And I knew that,” Rachael said.

“Anything I testified to, all of those details, it was tied to me. And there was no way to stop that. … So if there’s not a way to stop it — maximize it for the benefit.”

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Rachael Denhollander answers questions from Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis during a preliminary hearing for Larry Nassar in 55th District Court in Mason, Michigan on May 12, 2017. Nassar is seated just behind Povilaitis.. Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal

That’s why Rachael took the unusual step to insist the courtroom be open to media, with no restrictions on what could be shown or reported. This way, Nassar couldn’t hide, and she gave other victims a glimpse of the courtroom. 

There was the contentious cross-examination from one of Nassar’s attorneys, who questioned Rachael on why she spent so much time building and preparing her case before going to police. 

“I’m an attorney,” Rachael replied. “I knew what you would ask.”

In many ways, this day was worse than the abuse itself, Rachael said. There was an audience now, inside and outside the courtroom.

She was physically and emotionally exhausted.

Jacob got a hotel room so Rachael could have some space to process the day. He held her, and they talked, his touch and presence a way to imprint good memories over the bad in Rachael’s mind. It’s what Jacob could be that no one else could. 

The torment of the case wasn’t over.

Over the months that followed, Rachael looked at her daughters practicing ballet or reading and she couldn’t help but see all the little girls Nassar abused, the ones she was now trying to protect.

Little girls and grown women dragged into the case, whose wounds were reopened because of her. Little girls and women who didn’t know they’d been sexually abused because they still believed those lies.

That is, until Rachael spoke up.

She kept talking to reporters, which triggered more nightmares but brought more women and girls forward, strengthening the case.

As 2017 neared an end, the case took an unexpected turn. Nassar’s attorneys reached out to state prosecutors looking for a plea deal. But If Nassar wanted to avoid a trial, the prosecutor had conditions. Chief among them: that every victim be given the chance to speak in during his sentencing. 

So starting on the morning of Jan. 16, 2018, Rachael sat in courtrooms over three weeks and listened as 203 women and girls voiced their trauma and pain.

She wanted to hear every word.

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Rachael Denhollander, left, is introduced by Assistant Attorney General Angela Povaliatis, before she makes the final victim impact statement Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Ingham County Circuit Court. MATTHEW DAE SMITH/Lansing State Journal

On Feb. 5, 2018, Nassar walked out through a corner of the courtroom wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, his hands folded and cuffed to the waist restraint. He looked down as he disappeared through the doorway on his way to prison. 

TV satellite trucks lined the road in front of the courthouse.

Rachael stood inside, surrounded by reporters and cameras, microphones held out to capture her words. Camera lights lit up her face.

“We have taken care of one perpetrator,” she told reporters. “We have not taken care of the systems that allowed him to flourish for 20 years.”

In that moment, Rachael fully embraced her role as an advocate.

“What do you do when you have something that’s important to do,” she said later, “and you can do it very well, and you don’t want to do it?”

She wrapped herself in a pink blanket late at night and started writing her memoir — “What is a Girl Worth?” And then a children’s book with a similar name — “How Much is a Little Girl Worth?” 

She continued the interviews, pushing for reforms at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. She crisscrossed the country, meeting with victims and lawmakers, pushing for new laws in such places as Michigan and Vermont.

Rachael Denhollander

We have taken care of one perpetrator. We have not taken care of the systems that allowed him to flourish for 20 years.

She spoke out about sexual abuse scandals involving a doctor at the University of Southern California, within the Catholic Church and in the Southern Baptist community.

Not everyone was receptive to her message.

“Everybody’s really appreciative of what I did with Larry, because everybody knows who Larry is now,” she said. “Everybody got to see. But when I speak up with the church community, well that’s different for a good number of people. When I speak up about certain politicians on both sides of the aisle, well that’s different. When I speak up against certain sports teams or other universities, well that’s different.

“Everybody has that instinctive community response. And the real test for how much we understand the dynamics of abuse, and how committed we are, is what we do when it’s in our own community. What do we do when it will cost?”

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Rachael Denhollander holds her speech and a tissue after delivering her impact statement in front of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar inside Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018. Jenna Watson/IndyStar

The truth is, the outcomes in the Nassar cases — the convictions and long prison sentences and some semblance of justice — were never as inevitable as they seemed when it was all over. And the possibility that Rachael’s efforts and sacrifices could have ended unsuccessfully was never far from her mind.

Rachael needed The Indianapolis Star reporters to write the story that prompted her to come forward. She needed the detective who believed her and the prosecutor who saw her case and the others as worth the fight.

There were hundreds of women and girls who followed Rachael in telling their stories of abuse and trauma, their collective voices becoming too loud for the world to ignore.

Someone needed to sacrifice to start it all. That was Rachael. 

“He didn’t remember who I was anymore,” she said of Nassar. “He didn’t remember what he did. But he does now. I don’t like that. I don’t get to be forgotten anymore.

“And I think some of that, I guess, could be a power thing. ‘Well, he’ll remember me forever.’ But it’s not like that. That’s not how I feel about it. I would rather be one of the hundreds that he doesn’t remember anymore because he did it so much.”

Rachael knows #MeToo and #ChurchToo hashtags alone won’t get victims into a prosecutor’s office, a courtroom or a therapy appointment. That’s why she steps to the podium, meets with victims and grants interviews when she’d rather be home reading to her children.

“I’m a Calvinist, so I think God has a plan for everything,” her husband, Jacob, said. “But I think that in some cases, you definitely see his providence more clearly than in other instances.

“The question becomes, I think, was she prepared for exposing Larry Nassar or was Larry Nassar preparing her for something else? And I’m becoming more convinced that Larry Nassar was preparing her for something else.”

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All eyes are on Rachael Denhollander as she speaks at a fundraiser in Wyoming. June 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

Rachael stood at a lectern in a sunshine-flooded dining room at the Teton Pines Resort and Country Club on a clear Wyoming morning in late June and told her story once again. 

The abuse from both men. The lies she once told herself.

“Not facing the reality of what I had lost and the damage that was done seemed less painful,” she said to the group gathered at a fundraiser for sexual assault and domestic violence victims. “But in reality, it kept me from the truth, and it kept me from healing.”

Rachael Denhollander

Larry did abuse most of his victims right in front of their parents.

The crowd of 150 advocates, law enforcement members and donors gasped when Rachael told them about the institutional failures at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics that allowed Nassar’s abuse to go on for so long. They sat captivated.

Unlike most trips where Rachael tries to minimize time away from the kids, this one was a family vacation. As Rachael spoke, Jacob and the four children explored exhibits in the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum.

She spoke again that afternoon to another group, delivering a similar message.

“We have to start understanding how abusers wield the circumstances around them to make abuse seem impossible,” she told the crowd. “Larry did abuse most of his victims right in front of their parents.

“And that really was, I think, one of the most horrific things he did. Because the reality that most parents have to grapple with is that they sat there and watched their daughters get molested, and they had no idea what was happening.”

A line waited for her shortly after her speech. People stopped her on the way to thank her.

They see her as a champion for their cause. A hero. A light in the darkness. 

But Rachael’s nightmares remain. Her wounds are permanent. She doesn’t yet know how to fully heal.

“I’ve talked about seeing a counselor, just to have somebody to talk to besides (Jacob), because he carries it a lot,” Rachael said. “I just don’t know if I want to add one more thing to my schedule, if that makes sense. Like it’s just, it’s so busy.

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Rachael Denhollander and her husband, Jacob, travel in a tram at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. June 2019 Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

“I don’t know ultimately if it would end up helping or just be frustrating because it’s one more thing to do.” 

During their time in Wyoming, Rachael hoped to re-create a vacation she went on with her family when she was 12. A time before Larry Nassar. A trip filled with memories she still treasures: hiking and praying with her family, and her father reading “The Hobbit” aloud while nature surrounded them.

On this sunny June morning, Rachael, Jacob and their children started their hike in the Teton mountain range up a twisting path, each turn getting them closer to the Hidden Falls, the first stop.

“It’s called hidden waterfall because it’s like a secret,” Rachael told Hope.

They reached the falls, stopping for a snack break and to take in the rushing falls. They carried on up the mountain with periodic stops so the kids could do some amateur “bouldering” up and down small rock faces along the path.

Grace is already developing an interest in gymnastics. She borrows Rachael’s phone to watch gymnastics videos online, and Rachael worries about what else she might find.

Jonathan has already asked what a pedophile is. It’s a crime, they told him.

“Every once in a while they tell everybody their mom’s famous,” Rachael said. “It’s weird. We try to really temper that because I’m not famous, but that’s the impression they have because I was on TV.”

The older kids don’t remember much of life before the case, but they’ve sacrificed just as Jacob and Rachael have. Grace and Hope missed ballet lessons. Jonathan missed a hockey season.

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Rachael Denhollander finds peace in the Tetons with her family. Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

This was part of the consequences of sin, Rachael told them, and it goes much further than they know.

One day, Rachael and Jacob will have to tell their children what their sacrifices were for. 

But on this day, as the midday sun warmed the walk, the Denhollanders left the forest behind for rocky and twisting passages, the elevation rising.

When they reached Inspiration Point, at the 7,200-foot mark, the path widened and led to a plateau.

Rachael looked out over a skyline that stretched for miles, happy once again to be in the mountains.

“They’re immovable. They’re always there,” she said. “I think they’re just an incredible combination of strength and beauty both. I mean, you see that a lot in nature, but they don’t change. They’ve planted themselves and they are going to stay. They’re not moving, not for anybody.

“And yet they’re just indescribably beautiful at the same time. I love that combination. It’s very restful. It’s secure.”

Grace, Hope and Jonathan sat along the ridge as Jacob read aloud from “The Hobbit.”

Rachael stood behind them, her eyes on Elora, sound asleep on her chest, little legs poking out of pink pants as Rachael’s arms cradled her and her dreams.

Soon they’d start the hike back down, a family vacation coming to an end, with Rachael’s other life waiting to pull her away.

The autumn will be filled with a national book tour and more speaking engagements, and all that accompanies those things: More postponed healing. More nightmares. More sacrifices.

But up here on this mountain, Rachael brushed the hair from Elora’s sleeping face, leaned down and kissed her head.

In this moment, Rachael is where she always wanted to be.

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Tetons Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org and receive confidential support.

Follow report Matt Mencarini onTwitter: @MattMencarini

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Joe Scarborough slams Mitch McConnell on guns, says he has no interest in protecting Americans

Westlake Legal Group Scarborough-McConnel Joe Scarborough slams Mitch McConnell on guns, says he has no interest in protecting Americans Nick Givas fox-news/shows/morning-joe fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/joe-scarborough fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article abff8a07-9777-595b-9876-1453460e0b87

Joe Scarborough again accused Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of doing the bidding of Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday, and claimed the Senate majority leader has no interest in protecting Americans from mass shootings or domestic threats.

Co-host Mika Brzezinksi cited an article from The Washington Post‘s editorial board urging McConnell to move forward on gun control legislation, which sent Scarborough into a rant about Russian interference and mass shootings.

“That’s what Moscow Mitch says… he’s going to have the legacy of basically doing the work of Vladimir Putin,” Scarborough said. “He’s been told by everybody that Russia is trying to interfere and disrupt our democratic process, that we are under attack. And so Mitch McConnell is killing Republican bills… that would protect the homeland.”

“What about his legacy protecting us from domestic enemies,” he asked. “People that would shoot children, first graders… with AR-15’s. Or people that would shoot wildly from their car in Odessa, Texas — and shoot 17-month-old babies in the back seat of their cars.”

MITCH MCCONNELL SLAMMED BY AUTHOR TA NEHISI COATES OVER SLAVERY REPARATIONS

Scarborough continued to question McConnell’s motivations and said he’s sabotaging efforts to protect America from foreign and domestic threats for political reasons.

More from Media

“Moscow Mitch won’t do anything in protecting us from foreign enemies, he has been the one person that has killed every one of these bills to protect us from our domestic enemies, that are gunning down our children every day,” he said.

“What’s his end game? What’s his legacy? Where does it end?” Scarborough continued. “Russia is invading this country and we need to protect the homeland.”

Scarborough’s nickname for McConnell, “Moscow Mitch” drew a response from the Kentucky Republican back in July on the Senate floor.

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“These pundits are lying, lying when they dismiss the work that has been done. They’re lying when they insist I have personally blocked actions which, in fact, I have championed and the Senate has passed. They are lying when they suggest that either party is against defending our democracy,” he said during a floor speech.

He also addressed the issue during the “Hugh Hewit show” on Tuesday, saying the media’s efforts to demonize him are “over the top.”

Westlake Legal Group Scarborough-McConnel Joe Scarborough slams Mitch McConnell on guns, says he has no interest in protecting Americans Nick Givas fox-news/shows/morning-joe fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/joe-scarborough fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article abff8a07-9777-595b-9876-1453460e0b87   Westlake Legal Group Scarborough-McConnel Joe Scarborough slams Mitch McConnell on guns, says he has no interest in protecting Americans Nick Givas fox-news/shows/morning-joe fox-news/person/mitch-mcconnell fox-news/person/joe-scarborough fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article abff8a07-9777-595b-9876-1453460e0b87

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hurricane Dorian Updates: Florida to North Carolina Under Storm Surge Threat

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group 04dorian-updates1-articleLarge Hurricane Dorian Updates: Florida to North Carolina Under Storm Surge Threat Hurricane Dorian (2019) Bahama Islands

A man and his granddaughter walked through a flooded parking lot in Lantana, Fla., on Tuesday.CreditSaul Martinez for The New York Times

Hurricane Dorian, which caused widespread devastation in the Bahamas earlier in the week, was churning off the Florida coast on Wednesday, with residents along hundreds of miles of coastline warned of its potential for life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds.

The Category 2 storm was about 90 miles east of Daytona Beach by 9 a.m., the National Hurricane Center said, and heading up the coast at about 8 m.p.h.

Meteorologists warned residents from Sebastian Inlet in Central Florida to Surf City, N.C., that they faced “a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water” within the next 36 hours. In some parts of North and South Carolina, the storm surge could be 4 to 7 feet, and places as far north as Virginia could face flash floods this week. A tornado or two near the coast of Florida was also possible.

The storm is expected to move “dangerously close” to Florida and Georgia through Wednesday night, and Dorian’s center could be close to the Carolinas from Thursday through Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters expect little change in the storm’s strength as it continues its northward roll. By the time it is expected to brush by Wilmington, N.C., early on Friday, forecasters say it will still have winds as strong as 90 m.p.h.

The storm is traveling parallel to the coast, and it is predicted to close in on Charleston, S.C., by Thursday afternoon. Gov. Henry McMaster has issued a mandatory evacuation for all of Charleston County, which has a population of more than 400,000.

About a third of the 830,000 people ordered to leave coastal counties in South Carolina have already evacuated, Mr. McMaster said Tuesday.

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Maps: Track Hurricane Dorian’s Path

Maps tracking the hurricane’s path as it makes its way toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful storms recorded in the Atlantic, whipped the low-lying islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the northwestern Bahamas for a second day on Tuesday.

The true extent of the storm’s toll was only beginning to emerge as it began to pull away.

[Here’s how to help Hurricane Dorian survivors in the Bahamas.]

Entire neighborhoods were reduced to unrecognizable fields of rubble, houses were crushed into splinters, and boats were tossed into heaps like toys, video from a helicopter showed. About 60 percent of Grand Bahama, including the airport, was under water, the satellite company Iceye said on Monday. All around, massive waves curled toward the island, delivering new blows.

“It’s not just the power and ferocity of the storm; it’s also the length of time it spent over Abaco and Grand Bahama,” said Marvin Dames, the minister of national security for the Bahamas. “That’s a disastrous outcome.”

[Read more about how Hurricane Dorian lashed the Bahamas.]

Seven people died in Abaco, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at an evening news conference, although the toll was expected to climb.

Hurricane Dorian first made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm on Sunday, but then it lingered, pummeling Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands and blocking even a basic accounting of the number of victims and the destruction.

Cindy Russell, a resident of Marsh Harbour whose home was destroyed, said she had no words to describe what the storm had left in its wake.

“It’s like we just need to be rescued and put on another island to start over again,” she said. “Complete devastation.”

Video

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Hurricane Dorian is now a Category 2 storm and is slowly moving northwest after leaving behind major damage in the Bahamas.CreditCreditRamon Espinosa/Associated Press

As the outer bands of Hurricane Dorian began lashing the Florida coast on Tuesday, a woman raced to pick up her mother-in-law at a retirement community, where the elevator was about to be shut down. The staff of a nursing home packed up more than 200 residents, as well as the supplies they might need: cases of water, air mattresses and board games. At another center, residents were evacuated in specialty ambulances, rented motor coaches and private vehicles.

Across the state, a scramble was underway to move older Floridians to safer ground as a weakened but still dangerous Hurricane Dorian threatened the state’s Atlantic coast.

The last major storm to hit the state was foremost in officials’ minds. When Hurricane Irma came ashore two years ago, a dozen patients died after a nursing home in Hollywood, Fla., lost air-conditioning. The tragedy prompted new regulations and an acknowledgment that evacuation orders were not enough to protect the state’s large older population. No state has more retirees than Florida, where they make up one-fifth of the population, according to the AARP.

[Read more about how Florida has prepared its older residents for Hurricane Dorian.]

A new state law requires backup generators and enough fuel to maintain comfortable temperatures at nursing homes and assisted living centers, a mandate first tested last year, when Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle. Last week, four nursing home workers were charged in the Hurricane Irma deaths, which were ruled homicides.

Some 190,000 people live in Florida nursing homes and assisted living centers, most of them in the state’s southeastern tip. Patrick Manderfield, a spokesman for the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, said on Monday that all but 42 of the state’s 3,062 licensed assisted living centers had an on-site generator. Five centers had emergency plans to evacuate “if needed,” he said in an email.

Nursing homes, which tend to be larger and have more beds than assisted living centers, are a different story. Reuters reported on Friday that some nursing homes were still waiting for temporary generators, though a state website suggested that they might have all been supplied by Monday afternoon. The Miami Herald reported last week that nearly 60 percent of the state’s 687 nursing homes did not yet have enough power backup.

Residents were evacuated at an assisted living center run by the Good Samaritan Society in Kissimmee, Fla., on Sunday.CreditEve Edelheit for The New York Times

Orange clouds drifted over Orlando on Tuesday night, but its residents were relaxed and many businesses remained open, with Walt Disney World vowing to return to relative normalcy on Wednesday morning.

Jerry Demings, the mayor of Orange County, which includes Orlando, opened a news conference on Tuesday night by sending his prayers to the Bahamas.

“I do realize that the emotional turmoil that residents and guests on the island have and will experience will be life changing for them,” he said. “And so we are fortunate that it does not appear that we will experience” a similar devastation.

As of about 8:30 p.m., rain had begun to fall and the Orlando International Airport had recorded winds at 21 miles per hour, with gusts near 40.

In the Holden Heights area of Orlando, a Rent-A-Center and several other storefronts were boarded up. Starbucks stores nearby posted signs saying they were closed because of the hurricane.

But most establishments appeared to be operating as usual.

At Hermanos Barber Shop, where four people were getting haircuts on Tuesday night, employees said they had not even considered closing.

“If there’s no curfew, we’ll be here,” said Alex Presinal, the manager. He said that, as normal, the store planned to open at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

At Paisano’s Pizza and Pasta, employees said they had been deluged all day with customers.

“We’ve been slammed,” said Leila, an employee who declined to give her last name, as she slid another pizza box onto the counter for a delivery driver.

Walt Disney World, which had closed some of parks on Tuesday, announced that it planned to reopen all but the Typhoon Lagoon Water Park on Wednesday.

Video

Westlake Legal Group dorian-aerialscover-promo-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600-v9 Hurricane Dorian Updates: Florida to North Carolina Under Storm Surge Threat Hurricane Dorian (2019) Bahama Islands

New images show the destruction in the Abaco Islands, located in the northern Bahamas.CreditCreditMichelle Cove/Trans Island Air, via Reuters

As Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, continues to approach the United States mainland, millions of people who may be in its path are watching — and worrying. We asked readers what they want to know about Dorian. Answering those questions is Prof. Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist and director of the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate at Columbia University.

The motion of hurricanes is determined mainly by what meteorologists call the “steering flow,” or “environmental flow,” meaning the winds on a larger scale, excluding the swirling circulation of the hurricane itself. Think of the storm as a swirl you make in a river with a canoe paddle: It has its own little circulation, but the whole thing drifts with the river current on the larger scale. The environmental flow can vary in both speed and direction at different altitudes; the storm follows the low-level winds most, but the winds higher up also have an influence.

If left to itself, a hurricane would drift slowly toward the North or South Pole, depending on which hemisphere it is in. But the steering flows rarely leave a hurricane to itself. A hurricane turns when it encounters a steering flow that blows in a different direction than the storm was being driven before.

[Read more questions and answers about Hurricane Dorian.]

Reporting was contributed by Richard Fausset, Rachel Knowles, Frances Robles and Elisabeth Malkin.

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'Total devastation. Apocalyptic': Massive rescue effort underway in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'Total devastation. Apocalyptic': Massive rescue effort underway in Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian left the Abaco Islands in ruin as it ripped through the Bahamas. USA TODAY

The death toll from Hurricane Dorian reached seven and was expected to climb in the Bahamas on Wednesday as rescue teams raced the clock to provide food, water, medicine and shelter to thousands left homeless by the devastating storm.

The sun shone brightly over the beleaguered archipelago, revealing the overwhelming destruction across Grand Bahama and Abaco islands after the storm rolled in Sunday as a Category 5 hurricane and lingered for almost three full days.

Entire communities were flattened and roads washed out. Hospitals and airports were swamped by several feet of water. The government urged residents stuck in their homes to cut holes in the ceilings in case water rushed in and trapped families awaiting rescue.

“We are seeing bravery and fortitude of Bahamians who endured hours and days of horror,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. “Our urgent task will be to provide food, water, shelter and safety and security.”

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Minnis said the death toll was expected to rise as rescuers approached the hardest hit areas. Local first responders including the Royal Bahamas Defense Force were aided by the U.S. Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and locals on fishing boats and jet skis.

“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic,” said Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief group and flew over the Bahamas’ hard-hit Abaco Islands. “It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.”

She said her representative on Abaco told her there were “a lot more dead” and that bodies were being gathered.

Dorian drove sustained winds of 185 mph when it slammed into the island chain Sunday, the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Atlantic basin since 1935. The storm made landfall three times that day, then stalled, pounding the islands and hampering rescue efforts.

Early reports said 13,000 homes and businesses were destroyed, but the final tally is expected to be much higher.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it was providing assistance with air operations based out of Andros Island, Bahamas. USCG was also providing multiple cutters and 17 shallow-water rescue boat teams.

“We don’t want people thinking we’ve forgotten them,” said Tammy Mitchell, with the Bahamas’ National Emergency Management Agency. “We know what your conditions are.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world’s most powerful sedan

The Porsche Taycan is almost ready to take on Tesla.

The production version of the German automaker’s first all-electric car was revealed on Wednesday morning at Niagara Falls near a hydroelectric power plant. Simultaneous events were held at a wind farm in China and a solar farm in Germany in order to drive home its green energy cred.

Westlake Legal Group tay4 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40

The curvy four-door is roughly the same size as a Tesla Model S, at which it is very squarely-aimed. The styling makes it instantly recognizable as a Porsche, but with a modern edge that doesn’t stray too far into the realm of science fiction. Deliveries are scheduled to begin late this year with the top of the line Turbo and Turbo S versions that were unveiled in New York.

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Electric cars don’t have turbochargers, but Porsche North America President Klaus Zellmer told Fox News Autos that the company decided to keep the nomenclature because it’s moved beyond its traditional definition at the brand (and others, like Gillette.)

“Our customers identify it with the highest model in each of our lineups,” Zellmer said.

Westlake Legal Group tay3 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40

Both feature all-wheel-drive with dual electric motors powered by a 93.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack. The front motor drives the wheels directly, as is common in electric cars, bit the rear features a 2-speed transmission. Zellmer said Porsche took the unusual step because it was the best way to fully utilize the Taycan’s power.

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There’s plenty of it. The Turbo is rated at 616 hp and can crank out up to 670 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque in bursts when launch control is engaged. The Turbo S has the same base horsepower, but has a max power output of 750 hp and 774 lb-ft, which technically makes it the most powerful sedan in the world. Less potent versions will be added later, but Porsche is looking to come hard out of the gate with the Turbos, and they can definitely do that.

Westlake Legal Group taycan-9 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40

The Turbo and Turbo S can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.0 s and 2.6 s, respectively, and cover a quarter-mile in 11.1 s and 10.6 s. The Tesla Model S is officially capable of hitting 60 mph in 2.4 s, but Porsche is notorious for sandbagging its performance specifications. Importantly, it says it can provide this kind of performance over and over again without any loss of power, which is a common issue with electric performance cars.

Top speed for both is restricted to 161 mph, but exactly how far you can drive them at that or any speed is yet to be determined. At least in the U.S. In Europe, they’re rated with ranges of 450 km per charge for the Turbo and 412 km for the Turbo S. That converts to 280 mi and 256 mi, but the European testing procedure is different from the EPA’s. For comparison, The Tesla Model S Long Range, which features a 100-kilowatt-hour battery, is rated at 610 km in Europe and 370 miles in the U.S.

Westlake Legal Group tay8 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40

Whatever the range ends up being, drivers will be able to replenish it quickly thanks to the Taycan’s 800-volt battery pack, an industry first. Plugged-in to a 270 kw charger it can fill it from 5 percent to 80 percent in 22.5 minutes and is capable of handling up to 400 kw.

Porsche is installing high-speed chargers at each of its dealerships and several public charging networks are also adding them to their stations. Among them is Electrify America, which is owned by Porsche parent Volkswagen Group and will provide Taycan owners with three years of complimentary charging, similar to how Tesla has granted free access to its Superchargers as an incentive to some customers.

One thing Porsche isn’t looking to compete with Tesla on is the promise of autonomy. Zellmer said the Taycans can only be had with Level 2 driver assist features like those currently offered on its other models, because Porsche doesn’t think more advanced systems are ready for primetime and is “convinced our customers like the feel of a steering wheel and full control.”

Westlake Legal Group tay2 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40

That wheel sits in front of one of the five digital displays in the Taycan’s cabin, with another placed above the glove compartment for the front passenger to use. Full details on the features they will provide have not been released, but the Taycan will be the first car that can run Apple Music without a connected smartphone and will accommodate over-the-air updates. Leather-free interiors will be available.

Westlake Legal Group tay5 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40

The Turbo comes with an adaptive air suspension and can be equipped with optional roll control and rear-wheel-steering systems that are standard on the Turbo S. Four drive modes deliver a range of comfort and performance settings, while drivers can program their own combination of suspension stiffness and power delivery. A Turbo S recently set a track record for electric sedans at the benchmark 13-mile-long Nurburgring Nordschleife race track in Germany with a time of 7:42, just 10 seconds off the four-door record.

Westlake Legal Group 9e1e0ec4-tay7 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40

Prices start at $154,660 for the Turbo and $188,960 for the Turbo S, which is roughly the same as the equivalent Porsche Panameras. Zellmer said both have a place in Porsche’s lineup.

“The Taycan is for customers looking to be first movers on the battery electric trend, while the Panamera suits those who prefer the feel and sound of an internal combustion engine and aren’t quite ready to take the step into electrification.”

Additional Taycan models will be added soon, but pricing hasn’t been announced. However, the entry-level Panamera is under $90,000 and rumor has it the Taycan will eventually follow suit.

Porsche claims it has over 20,000 refundable deposits for the Taycan, which represents roughly the first full year of production, but now that the order books are open it will find out how many of those actually translate into sales.

Westlake Legal Group tay4 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40   Westlake Legal Group tay4 All-electric Porsche Taycan debuts as the world's most powerful sedan Gary Gastelu fox-news/auto/make/porsche fox-news/auto/attributes/innovations fox-news/auto/attributes/electric fox news fnc/auto fnc article 7af988aa-2e49-5cc4-a44b-eabcebd63e40

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Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

The 2020 Democratic presidential primary is already shaping up to be the most climate-centered election in modern history. 

Some candidates in the crowded field crafted multi-thousand-word proposals that provide clear paths forward. Others have done little more than promise to reenter the U.S. into the 2016 Paris climate agreement ― a pledge that one 2020 contender dismissed during a debate as “kindergarten.” A candidate who dropped out last month ran solely on a book-length stack of climate policies. 

Even as Democratic Party leaders quash efforts to organize an official debate on the climate crisis, TV networks stepped in to hold climate forums with the Democratic candidates. The first, CNN’s marathon seven-hour affair, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

Ahead of the event, we put together a cheat sheet to help readers understand the policies each campaign has put forward. This is by no means a comprehensive accounting of the proposals, but it offers a quick way to compare the candidates.

We excluded low-polling candidates who so far have added little to the climate debate, such as former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam. We included scores from Data for Progress on candidates whose proposals the left-leaning think tank analyzed, as well as some answers candidates submitted in response to a recent survey by The Washington Post.

The list also includes Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who until last month was the race’s climate candidate, for comparison.

On Stage 

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee28b2500008d00022cf2 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Scott Morgan/Reuters Former Vice President Joe Biden wants to decarbonize the U.S. economy by midcentury.

The former vice president took heat earlier this year after Reuters reported that his campaign was charting a “middle ground” approach to climate change. Biden responded with a hefty proposal, based on the Green New Deal, to decarbonize the economy by midcentury.

His plans for new research funding for more efficient nuclear reactors and plans for public electric vehicle charging stations excited some, while a shifting position on fossil fuels raised alarms. 

Cost: $1.7 trillion over a decade, but Biden hopes private, state and local investments bring the figure to “more than $5 trillion”

Jobs promised: “More than 10 million”

What Stands Out: Biden, long a critic of nuclear power, opens the door to “small modular nuclear reactors at half the construction cost of today’s reactors.” The plan also includes “more than 500,000” public charging ports for electric vehicles by 2030. 

What The Wonks Criticize: The campaign addresses fossil fuels in only vague terms. Biden, whose campaign includes a former natural gas executive, made clear that fossil fuels could still play a role when sparring on the debate stage with Inslee. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: No later than 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B+), 350 Action (👍), Data for Progress (Thorough)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee25c2500008d00022cd4 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Leah Millis/REUTERS Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) calls for establishing a $50 billion-per-year U.S. Environmental Justice Fund.

The New Jersey senator was among the first to throw his weight behind the Green New Deal last year and sign on to the resolution. His plan puts a unique focus on poor, minority communities that often suffer the worst pollution ― which could prove advantageous as he faces criticism for failing to prevent the lead contamination crisis in Newark, where Booker served as mayor from 2006 to 2013.

Cost: $3 trillion by 2030

Jobs promised: Unspecified “millions”

What Stands Out: The plan calls for establishing a $50 billion-per-year U.S. Environmental Justice Fund “charged with coordinating the most ambitious-ever federal effort to advance environmental justice and invest in communities long left behind.” It also prioritizes protecting and restoring public lands.

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan lacks details, and risks being overshadowed by Newark’s lead contamination crisis.

Zeros Out Emissions By: 100% carbon neutral economy by 2045

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (A-), 350 Action (👍👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee2dd240000fd0c731272 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

REUTERS/Brian Snyder Pete Buttigieg proposes establishing Resilience Hubs to distribute grants to rural projects mitigating the effects of climate change. 

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor said the climate crisis helped inspire his unlikely run for the White House, and credited his age ― he’s just 37 ― for giving him a unique appreciation of the threat. Yet he has taken a piecemeal approach to climate policy so far. He joined calls for establishing a national Climate Corps, backed a climate tax and dividend scheme and promised to “at least quadruple” federal research spending on renewable power and energy storage technology. 

Cost: At least $2.5 trillion

Jobs promised: 3 million

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Supports ban, but only on new fracking.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: The plan calls for “net-zero emissions for all new heavy-duty vehicles, buses, rail, ships, and aircrafts” by 2040. Including airplanes is a unique goal, given how far behind electric planes are compared to other forms of electrified vehicles. 

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan promises a thriving “carbon removal” industry by 2040, and hints that it would include paying farmers to sequester carbon, but it lacks details and, as its worded, leaves open the possibility of carbon capture for continued fossil fuel use. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C), 350 Action (👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee31b3b00004900cc0e0d Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

JOSH EDELSON via Getty Images Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro wants to create a new “climate refugee” status for migrants affected by climate change.

The former housing and urban development secretary stood out early on for his proposals to overhaul drinking water infrastructure and combat the sort of lead contamination that plagues poor, predominantly minority cities such as Newark and Flint, Michigan. His campaign’s focus on communities of color adds extra weight to his justice-centered proposals. 

Cost: $10 trillion in public and private investment

Jobs Promised: 10 million

What Stands Out: Having positioned himself as arguably the most progressive candidate on immigration, Castro’s calls to create a new “climate refugee” status and establish a program to resettle migrants from low-lying islands carries extra weight.  

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan’s “Economic Guarantee for Fossil Fuel Workers” offers few details despite being pivotal to winning support for the policy. It also makes no mention of nuclear power. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2045, with at least 50% cuts by 2030

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C), 350 Action (👍👍)

Kamala Harris

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Eric Thayer/Reuters Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has plans to designate 30% of U.S. land and ocean for conservation.

The California senator was among the last to release a climate plan, with her latest out early Wednesday morning ahead of CNN’s climate forum. Harris leans heavily on existing legislation, including the Climate Equity Act she co-sponsored with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), as well as Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley’s bill to transition to zero-emissions vehicles. 

Cost: $10 trillion in unspecified “public and private spending over the next 10 years”

Jobs Promised: “Millions”

What Stands Out: Harris’ proposal prominently features a promise to designate 30% of U.S. land and ocean for conservation.

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan breaks little new ground. It also touts Harris’ record of “holding polluters accountable” as California’s attorney general, but under her leadership, the Golden State’s top law enforcement office failed to join investigations in New York and Massachusetts into oil giants’ efforts to obscure the realities of climate change. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2045

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C), 350 Action (👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee38d3b0000e000cc0e5e Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Scott Morgan/Reuters Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has said she’ll introduce “sweeping” emissions legislation within her first 100 days in office.

The Minnesota senator’s approach to climate change focuses on reversing the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda and putting the United States back on the course set under former President Barack Obama. Klobuchar also endorsed the Green New Deal resolution and vowed to introduce “sweeping” emissions legislation within her first 100 days in office.

Cost: $1 trillion

Jobs promised: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: While she lets an unspecified call for a Green New Deal do the heavy lifting on her proposal, Klobuchar promises a carbon pricing scheme “that does not have a regressive impact on Americans.” 

What The Wonks Criticize: It’s vague and light on details. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C-), 350 Action (👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee3b73b00009605cc0e75 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign became the first to release a comprehensive climate plan.

During the former Texas congressman’s bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last year, he bolstered his state’s oil and gas industry. He touted his record of voting to lift the export ban on oil and gas. After a kerfuffle with activists in which O’Rourke signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, violated it, then renewed his commitment, his campaign became the first to release a comprehensive climate plan. The proposal, which helped set the tone for other campaigns, lays out a plan to make the United States carbon neutral by mid-century. 

Cost: $1.5 trillion over a decade, but O’Rourke hopes to spur “at least $4 trillion” in related spending

Jobs promised: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Supports ban, but only on new fracking. 

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: The plan calls for establishing the “first-ever, net-zero emissions by 2030 carbon budget for federal lands” and requiring all federal permitting decisions “to fully account for climate costs and community impacts.”

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan’s vagueness. Inslee, who put tackling the climate crisis at the center of his 2020 bid before dropping out of the race last month, called the plan “empty rhetoric” and said O’Rourke “will need to answer why he did not lead on climate change in Congress.” 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B-), 350 Action (👍👍), Data for Progress (Thorough)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee3f33b00004900cc0e9e Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Brian Snyder/Reuters Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would use military cuts and tax hikes on the wealthy to pay for his climate plan.

The Vermont senator’s proposal is the most ambitious in scope and spending. The plan is also unique in how it finances its budget, in its proposals to redistribute wealth and in its ideas to right the original New Deal’s racist, sexist legacy. 

Cost: $16.3 trillion over the next decade

Jobs promised: 20 million

What Stands Out: Sanders would use military cuts and tax hikes on the wealthy to pay for the plan. The plan also includes a blueprint to nationalize electricity production and expand public- and worker-owned grocery stores and food processing plants. 

What The Wonks Criticize: Sanders’ firm stance against nuclear power and carbon capture technology jeopardizes a focus on emissions cuts. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2030 for electricity and transportation, 2050 for the full economy

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (A-), 350 Action (👍👍👍), Data for Progress (Very Thorough)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee42a2500008d00022e10 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Brian Snyder/Reuters Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has numerous plans rooted in her desire to eliminate the political influence of fossil fuel companies.

The Warren campaign’s motto is “I have a plan for that.” On climate, the Massachusetts senator has several. Warren has plans to eliminate drilling on public lands, decarbonize much of the U.S. military by 2030, put America’s public lands to use in the fight against climate change, require companies to disclose climate risk, use trade policy to lower emissions, and start a green manufacturing boom. On Tuesday, she released an overarching proposal that also adopts key energy components from former climate candidate Jay Inslee’s library of policies. 

Cost: $3 trillion over the next decade

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Supports ban on public lands. 

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

Jobs promised: “Millions”

What Stands Out: The Warren campaign’s plans are rooted in the senator’s long-held belief that eliminating the corruptive political influence of fossil fuel companies is the key to comprehensive reform.

What The Wonks Criticize: Some on the left say Warren’s calls for “economic patriotism” and restrictive intellectual property rules on clean energy technology risk slowing global decarbonization and unfairly profiting off countries that are hardest-hit by the climate crisis.

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2028 for new buildings, 2030 for new vehicles and 2035 for the electrical grid. “As fast as possible” economy-wide.

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B+), 350 Action (👍👍👍), Data for Progress (Thorough)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee450250000ad00022e26 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Scott Morgan/Reuters Andrew Yang is the only major candidate to embrace geoengineering in his climate plan.  

The venture capitalist became the primary’s climate doomsayer when, during a debate, he suggested that Americans may need to abandon the coasts and head for higher ground — and that a universal basic income program like his would help fund their relocation. His campaign made a name for itself championing unusual policies, and its climate plan is no different ― he’s the only major candidate to embrace geoengineering. 

Cost: $4.87 trillion over 20 years

Jobs promised: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: Geoengineering

What The Wonks Criticize: Also geoengineering

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2035 for the electric grid, 2040 for the transportation sector and 2049 for the full economy

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C+), 350 Action (👍👍), Data for Progress (Very Incomplete) 

Who Won’t Be On The CNN Stage:

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee47f2500008d00022e50 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Yuri Gripas/Reuters Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) offers policy rebrands that could make federal programs more palatable to conservatives.

The Colorado senator veers away from the Green New Deal in favor of a more centrist approach that will “endure across American elections and administrations.” His proposal puts a focus on rural communities and offers policy rebrands that could make federal programs more palatable to conservative voters.

Cost: $1 trillion over 10 years, meant to spur $10 trillion in private spending

Jobs promised: 10 million in 10 years

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Unclear.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: Bennet’s plan promises to reduce food waste 75% by 2030, targeting a significant but under-discussed source of emissions and waste. It rebrands popular public funding programs for climate proposals as Climate X Options. 

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan calls for a Next Generation Climate Board of Directors “comprised of youth leaders to ensure that their energy and ideas are part of the solution,” though it’s unclear how such a panel would work. It also outlines a vision for states to compete for green infrastructure funding, which adds an extra barrier to making long-overdue upgrades. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (D+), 350 Action (❌ 👍), Data for Progress (Incomplete)

Bill de Blasio

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee49a3b00004900cc0f33 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Scott Morgan/Reuters New York City passed a historic Green New Deal-style bill to cap emissions from big buildings, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio does not have a comprehensive national climate plan.

New York City’s mayor kicked off his long shot presidential bid with a press conference touting the Big Apple’s version of a Green New Deal. But while the nation’s biggest city has made strides on cutting emissions and requiring building owners to become more efficient, the achievement de Blasio is most fond of promoting ― divesting the city’s pension funds from fossil fuels ― has yet to actually happen. Nor does the candidate have a comprehensive climate plan to point to as a national plan. 

Cost: Unclear

Jobs: Unclear

What Stands Out: Under his administration, the New York City Council passed a historic Green New Deal-style bill to cap emissions from big buildings, and the months of implementation ahead could offer important lessons for scaling such a program nationally. 

What The Wonks Criticize: Lack of details

Zeros Out Emissions By: Unclear

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C), 350 Action (👍👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee4d8250000ad00022e99 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Scott Morgan/Reuters Montana Gov. Steve Bullock hasn’t released a detailed climate plan and has the lowest climate rankings of any Democrat left in the 2020 race. 

The two-term Democratic governor of Montana says climate change is “one of the defining challenges of our time” and has vowed to fight it head-on, but his record has many on the left unconvinced. He worked to protect the state’s coal industry, supported the development of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and blasted the Obama administration’s efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Bullock has the lowest climate rankings of any Democrat left in the race. 

Cost: Unspecified. His campaign has said his approach would include investing in more efficient infrastructure and aggressively expanding renewable energy.

Jobs: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Does not support a ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support a ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Unclear.

What Stands Out: Bullock has not put forward a detailed proposal.

What The Wonks Criticize: A lot: supporting Keystone XL, dismissing the Green New Deal, not signing the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge … the list goes on.

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2040 or earlier

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (D), 350 Action (❌ ❌ ❌)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee5022500005500022eb7 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Lucas Jackson/Reuters Former Rep. John Delaney has proposed $5 billion annually for negative emissions technologies, including carbon capture, and a five-fold bump in funding for federal green energy programs.

The centrist former Maryland congressman has made his firm opposition to the Green New Deal clear. But he released a plan earlier than many candidates, charting a path to net-zero emissions by mid-century.

Cost: $4 trillion, including $5 billion annually for negative emissions technologies, including carbon capture, and a five-fold bump in funding for federal green energy programs. It also includes $20 billion for a so-called “Carbon Throughway,” an infrastructure project to transport, sequester and reuse captured carbon dioxide.

Jobs promised: Unspecified. The Carbon Throughway is expected to create “tens of thousands” of jobs.

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: Delaney has a unique approach to investing in controversial carbon capture technology and makes a direct pitch to labor, particularly construction unions that have opposed efforts to eliminate fossil fuels. 

What The Wonks Criticize: Environmentalists are quick to call carbon capture a “false” solution that elongates the runway for fossil fuels. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C-), 350 Action (❌ ❌), Data for Progress (Very Incomplete)

Tulsi Gabbard

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has neither signed on to the Green New Deal nor released a full climate proposal of her own.

The Hawaii congresswoman led the charge on climate well before it was the defining issue of the 2020 primary. In 2017, she first proposed the Off Fossil Fuels Act, vowing to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2035. The proposal won widespread praise in 2018 but now seems outdated in light of the Green New Deal. Gabbard has neither signed on to the Green New Deal nor released a full climate proposal of her own. 

Cost: Unspecified

Jobs Promised: Unspecified

What Stands Out

What The Wonks Criticize: Gabbard lacks a detailed plan. Instead, her climate platform lists actions she’s taken as a member of Congress.

Zeros Out Emissions By: Unclear, but she promises 100% renewable energy by 2035

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B), 350 Action (👍👍)

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters Rep. Tim Ryan’s framing of climate policy as a “jobs plan” offers a vision of how Democrats can sell such policies in the industrial Midwest.

The Ohio congressman opposed the Green New Deal resolution but championed what he called a “new industrial policy” focused on boosting U.S. manufacturing. On the debate stage, he’s called for focusing on the production of green technologies and an industrial plan that ramps up union membership. Ryan’s framing of climate policy as a “jobs plan” offers a vision of how Democrats can sell such policies to workers in the industrial Midwest. 

Cost: “Over $2 trillion” for infrastructure spending, citing an American Society of Civil Engineers estimate

Jobs promised: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: The Ryan campaign’s thinly detailed agriculture proposal calls for redirecting an unspecified portion of food subsidies from corn and other grains, which take in 60%, to vegetables and fruits, which receive only 0.45%. 

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan lacks details. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: Unclear

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (D+), 350 Action ( 👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee55f3b00007902cc0fcd Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Stephen Lam/Reuters Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate, would declare climate change a national emergency.

The billionaire activist who founded climate action group NextGen America promised to take the mantle of “climate candidate” from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who dropped out in August. But Steyer’s late entry into the primary race left environmentalists scratching their heads. His polling has been too low to make it onto the debate stage, and his climate proposal offers little to set it apart from bigger-name contenders. 

Cost: $2 trillion

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Unclear, though he’s funded anti-fracking campaigns across the country.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

Jobs promised: Unspecified “millions,” with at least 1 million in a Climate Conservation Corps

What Stands Out: The plan would declare climate change a national emergency.

What The Wonks Criticize: The proposal lacks specifics, and a national emergency could open the door to potentially dangerous executive powers. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 100% carbon neutral economy by 2045, reduce asthma-causing air pollution by 2030

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B+), 350 Action (👍👍👍) 

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee583240000320073145f Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Lucas Jackson/Reuters Author Marianne Williamson said she would wage war against the oil, gas and coal industries. But she’s an even more credible antagonist of industrial agriculture.

The self-help guru’s love-powered campaign offers little for the fossil fuel industry to like. Williamson backed the Green New Deal and vowed to appoint Cabinet chiefs who would wage war against the oil, gas and coal industries. But she’s an even more credible antagonist of industrial agriculture and has used her time on the debate stage to call attention to genetically modified foods and subsidies. 

Cost: Unspecified. Simply calls for “massive investments” in green energy.

Jobs promised: Unspecified. The plan calls for job training programs to transition fossil fuel workers into careers in renewable energies and building renovation.

What Stands Out: Her proposal emphasizes that cutting food waste, promoting plant-based diets and better managing land are essential for limiting planetary warming. It also would require corporations to commit to “a series” of emissions targets that get them to zero by 2050 or face fines.

What The Wonks Criticize: Williamson’s platform lacks many specifics. Still, some environmental groups say she’s “on the right track.” 

Zeros Out Emissions By: “2050 at the latest”

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B), 350 Action (👍👍👍)

Out, But For Comparison:

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters Washington Gov. Jay Inslee dropped out of the 2020 race last month but has offered an open-source climate plan for the eventual Democratic nominee.

The Washington governor ended his climate-centered bid for the White House in August. But his team produced nearly 200 pages of impressively detailed climate policy, which Inslee offered as an open-source governing document for the eventual Democratic nominee.

Cost: $9 trillion, with three-quarters coming from private investors

Jobs: 8 million

What Stands Out: The entire package of plans clearly designated different federal agencies to take on the work. 

What The Wonks Criticize: Inslee’s plans were held up as the “gold standard,” though in comparison to the Sanders proposal, some might say the governor lacked revolutionary ambition. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2030 for most sectors, 2050 economy-wide

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (A-), 350 Action (👍👍👍), Data for Progress (Very Thorough)

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

The 2020 Democratic presidential primary is already shaping up to be the most climate-centered election in modern history. 

Some candidates in the crowded field crafted multi-thousand-word proposals that provide clear paths forward. Others have done little more than promise to reenter the U.S. into the 2016 Paris climate agreement ― a pledge that one 2020 contender dismissed during a debate as “kindergarten.” A candidate who dropped out last month ran solely on a book-length stack of climate policies. 

Even as Democratic Party leaders quash efforts to organize an official debate on the climate crisis, TV networks stepped in to hold climate forums with the Democratic candidates. The first, CNN’s marathon seven-hour affair, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

Ahead of the event, we put together a cheat sheet to help readers understand the policies each campaign has put forward. This is by no means a comprehensive accounting of the proposals, but it offers a quick way to compare the candidates.

We excluded low-polling candidates who so far have added little to the climate debate, such as former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam. We included scores from Data for Progress on candidates whose proposals the left-leaning think tank analyzed, as well as some answers candidates submitted in response to a recent survey by The Washington Post.

The list also includes Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who until last month was the race’s climate candidate, for comparison.

On Stage 

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Scott Morgan/Reuters Former Vice President Joe Biden wants to decarbonize the U.S. economy by midcentury.

The former vice president took heat earlier this year after Reuters reported that his campaign was charting a “middle ground” approach to climate change. Biden responded with a hefty proposal, based on the Green New Deal, to decarbonize the economy by midcentury.

His plans for new research funding for more efficient nuclear reactors and plans for public electric vehicle charging stations excited some, while a shifting position on fossil fuels raised alarms. 

Cost: $1.7 trillion over a decade, but Biden hopes private, state and local investments bring the figure to “more than $5 trillion”

Jobs promised: “More than 10 million”

What Stands Out: Biden, long a critic of nuclear power, opens the door to “small modular nuclear reactors at half the construction cost of today’s reactors.” The plan also includes “more than 500,000” public charging ports for electric vehicles by 2030. 

What The Wonks Criticize: The campaign addresses fossil fuels in only vague terms. Biden, whose campaign includes a former natural gas executive, made clear that fossil fuels could still play a role when sparring on the debate stage with Inslee. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: No later than 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B+), 350 Action (👍), Data for Progress (Thorough)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee25c2500008d00022cd4 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Leah Millis/REUTERS Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) calls for establishing a $50 billion-per-year U.S. Environmental Justice Fund.

The New Jersey senator was among the first to throw his weight behind the Green New Deal last year and sign on to the resolution. His plan puts a unique focus on poor, minority communities that often suffer the worst pollution ― which could prove advantageous as he faces criticism for failing to prevent the lead contamination crisis in Newark, where Booker served as mayor from 2006 to 2013.

Cost: $3 trillion by 2030

Jobs promised: Unspecified “millions”

What Stands Out: The plan calls for establishing a $50 billion-per-year U.S. Environmental Justice Fund “charged with coordinating the most ambitious-ever federal effort to advance environmental justice and invest in communities long left behind.” It also prioritizes protecting and restoring public lands.

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan lacks details, and risks being overshadowed by Newark’s lead contamination crisis.

Zeros Out Emissions By: 100% carbon neutral economy by 2045

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (A-), 350 Action (👍👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee2dd240000fd0c731272 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

REUTERS/Brian Snyder Pete Buttigieg proposes establishing Resilience Hubs to distribute grants to rural projects mitigating the effects of climate change. 

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor said the climate crisis helped inspire his unlikely run for the White House, and credited his age ― he’s just 37 ― for giving him a unique appreciation of the threat. Yet he has taken a piecemeal approach to climate policy so far. He joined calls for establishing a national Climate Corps, backed a climate tax and dividend scheme and promised to “at least quadruple” federal research spending on renewable power and energy storage technology. 

Cost: At least $2.5 trillion

Jobs promised: 3 million

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Supports ban, but only on new fracking.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: The plan calls for “net-zero emissions for all new heavy-duty vehicles, buses, rail, ships, and aircrafts” by 2040. Including airplanes is a unique goal, given how far behind electric planes are compared to other forms of electrified vehicles. 

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan promises a thriving “carbon removal” industry by 2040, and hints that it would include paying farmers to sequester carbon, but it lacks details and, as its worded, leaves open the possibility of carbon capture for continued fossil fuel use. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C), 350 Action (👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee31b3b00004900cc0e0d Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

JOSH EDELSON via Getty Images Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro wants to create a new “climate refugee” status for migrants affected by climate change.

The former housing and urban development secretary stood out early on for his proposals to overhaul drinking water infrastructure and combat the sort of lead contamination that plagues poor, predominantly minority cities such as Newark and Flint, Michigan. His campaign’s focus on communities of color adds extra weight to his justice-centered proposals. 

Cost: $10 trillion in public and private investment

Jobs Promised: 10 million

What Stands Out: Having positioned himself as arguably the most progressive candidate on immigration, Castro’s calls to create a new “climate refugee” status and establish a program to resettle migrants from low-lying islands carries extra weight.  

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan’s “Economic Guarantee for Fossil Fuel Workers” offers few details despite being pivotal to winning support for the policy. It also makes no mention of nuclear power. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2045, with at least 50% cuts by 2030

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C), 350 Action (👍👍)

Kamala Harris

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Eric Thayer/Reuters Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has plans to designate 30% of U.S. land and ocean for conservation.

The California senator was among the last to release a climate plan, with her latest out early Wednesday morning ahead of CNN’s climate forum. Harris leans heavily on existing legislation, including the Climate Equity Act she co-sponsored with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), as well as Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley’s bill to transition to zero-emissions vehicles. 

Cost: $10 trillion in unspecified “public and private spending over the next 10 years”

Jobs Promised: “Millions”

What Stands Out: Harris’ proposal prominently features a promise to designate 30% of U.S. land and ocean for conservation.

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan breaks little new ground. It also touts Harris’ record of “holding polluters accountable” as California’s attorney general, but under her leadership, the Golden State’s top law enforcement office failed to join investigations in New York and Massachusetts into oil giants’ efforts to obscure the realities of climate change. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2045

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C), 350 Action (👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee38d3b0000e000cc0e5e Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Scott Morgan/Reuters Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has said she’ll introduce “sweeping” emissions legislation within her first 100 days in office.

The Minnesota senator’s approach to climate change focuses on reversing the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda and putting the United States back on the course set under former President Barack Obama. Klobuchar also endorsed the Green New Deal resolution and vowed to introduce “sweeping” emissions legislation within her first 100 days in office.

Cost: $1 trillion

Jobs promised: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: While she lets an unspecified call for a Green New Deal do the heavy lifting on her proposal, Klobuchar promises a carbon pricing scheme “that does not have a regressive impact on Americans.” 

What The Wonks Criticize: It’s vague and light on details. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C-), 350 Action (👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee3b73b00009605cc0e75 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign became the first to release a comprehensive climate plan.

During the former Texas congressman’s bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last year, he bolstered his state’s oil and gas industry. He touted his record of voting to lift the export ban on oil and gas. After a kerfuffle with activists in which O’Rourke signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, violated it, then renewed his commitment, his campaign became the first to release a comprehensive climate plan. The proposal, which helped set the tone for other campaigns, lays out a plan to make the United States carbon neutral by mid-century. 

Cost: $1.5 trillion over a decade, but O’Rourke hopes to spur “at least $4 trillion” in related spending

Jobs promised: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Supports ban, but only on new fracking. 

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: The plan calls for establishing the “first-ever, net-zero emissions by 2030 carbon budget for federal lands” and requiring all federal permitting decisions “to fully account for climate costs and community impacts.”

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan’s vagueness. Inslee, who put tackling the climate crisis at the center of his 2020 bid before dropping out of the race last month, called the plan “empty rhetoric” and said O’Rourke “will need to answer why he did not lead on climate change in Congress.” 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B-), 350 Action (👍👍), Data for Progress (Thorough)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee3f33b00004900cc0e9e Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Brian Snyder/Reuters Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would use military cuts and tax hikes on the wealthy to pay for his climate plan.

The Vermont senator’s proposal is the most ambitious in scope and spending. The plan is also unique in how it finances its budget, in its proposals to redistribute wealth and in its ideas to right the original New Deal’s racist, sexist legacy. 

Cost: $16.3 trillion over the next decade

Jobs promised: 20 million

What Stands Out: Sanders would use military cuts and tax hikes on the wealthy to pay for the plan. The plan also includes a blueprint to nationalize electricity production and expand public- and worker-owned grocery stores and food processing plants. 

What The Wonks Criticize: Sanders’ firm stance against nuclear power and carbon capture technology jeopardizes a focus on emissions cuts. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2030 for electricity and transportation, 2050 for the full economy

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (A-), 350 Action (👍👍👍), Data for Progress (Very Thorough)

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Brian Snyder/Reuters Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has numerous plans rooted in her desire to eliminate the political influence of fossil fuel companies.

The Warren campaign’s motto is “I have a plan for that.” On climate, the Massachusetts senator has several. Warren has plans to eliminate drilling on public lands, decarbonize much of the U.S. military by 2030, put America’s public lands to use in the fight against climate change, require companies to disclose climate risk, use trade policy to lower emissions, and start a green manufacturing boom. On Tuesday, she released an overarching proposal that also adopts key energy components from former climate candidate Jay Inslee’s library of policies. 

Cost: $3 trillion over the next decade

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Supports ban on public lands. 

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

Jobs promised: “Millions”

What Stands Out: The Warren campaign’s plans are rooted in the senator’s long-held belief that eliminating the corruptive political influence of fossil fuel companies is the key to comprehensive reform.

What The Wonks Criticize: Some on the left say Warren’s calls for “economic patriotism” and restrictive intellectual property rules on clean energy technology risk slowing global decarbonization and unfairly profiting off countries that are hardest-hit by the climate crisis.

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2028 for new buildings, 2030 for new vehicles and 2035 for the electrical grid. “As fast as possible” economy-wide.

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B+), 350 Action (👍👍👍), Data for Progress (Thorough)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee450250000ad00022e26 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Scott Morgan/Reuters Andrew Yang is the only major candidate to embrace geoengineering in his climate plan.  

The venture capitalist became the primary’s climate doomsayer when, during a debate, he suggested that Americans may need to abandon the coasts and head for higher ground — and that a universal basic income program like his would help fund their relocation. His campaign made a name for itself championing unusual policies, and its climate plan is no different ― he’s the only major candidate to embrace geoengineering. 

Cost: $4.87 trillion over 20 years

Jobs promised: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: Geoengineering

What The Wonks Criticize: Also geoengineering

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2035 for the electric grid, 2040 for the transportation sector and 2049 for the full economy

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C+), 350 Action (👍👍), Data for Progress (Very Incomplete) 

Who Won’t Be On The CNN Stage:

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee47f2500008d00022e50 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Yuri Gripas/Reuters Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) offers policy rebrands that could make federal programs more palatable to conservatives.

The Colorado senator veers away from the Green New Deal in favor of a more centrist approach that will “endure across American elections and administrations.” His proposal puts a focus on rural communities and offers policy rebrands that could make federal programs more palatable to conservative voters.

Cost: $1 trillion over 10 years, meant to spur $10 trillion in private spending

Jobs promised: 10 million in 10 years

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Unclear.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: Bennet’s plan promises to reduce food waste 75% by 2030, targeting a significant but under-discussed source of emissions and waste. It rebrands popular public funding programs for climate proposals as Climate X Options. 

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan calls for a Next Generation Climate Board of Directors “comprised of youth leaders to ensure that their energy and ideas are part of the solution,” though it’s unclear how such a panel would work. It also outlines a vision for states to compete for green infrastructure funding, which adds an extra barrier to making long-overdue upgrades. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (D+), 350 Action (❌ 👍), Data for Progress (Incomplete)

Bill de Blasio

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Scott Morgan/Reuters New York City passed a historic Green New Deal-style bill to cap emissions from big buildings, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio does not have a comprehensive national climate plan.

New York City’s mayor kicked off his long shot presidential bid with a press conference touting the Big Apple’s version of a Green New Deal. But while the nation’s biggest city has made strides on cutting emissions and requiring building owners to become more efficient, the achievement de Blasio is most fond of promoting ― divesting the city’s pension funds from fossil fuels ― has yet to actually happen. Nor does the candidate have a comprehensive climate plan to point to as a national plan. 

Cost: Unclear

Jobs: Unclear

What Stands Out: Under his administration, the New York City Council passed a historic Green New Deal-style bill to cap emissions from big buildings, and the months of implementation ahead could offer important lessons for scaling such a program nationally. 

What The Wonks Criticize: Lack of details

Zeros Out Emissions By: Unclear

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C), 350 Action (👍👍👍)

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Scott Morgan/Reuters Montana Gov. Steve Bullock hasn’t released a detailed climate plan and has the lowest climate rankings of any Democrat left in the 2020 race. 

The two-term Democratic governor of Montana says climate change is “one of the defining challenges of our time” and has vowed to fight it head-on, but his record has many on the left unconvinced. He worked to protect the state’s coal industry, supported the development of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and blasted the Obama administration’s efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Bullock has the lowest climate rankings of any Democrat left in the race. 

Cost: Unspecified. His campaign has said his approach would include investing in more efficient infrastructure and aggressively expanding renewable energy.

Jobs: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Does not support a ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support a ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Unclear.

What Stands Out: Bullock has not put forward a detailed proposal.

What The Wonks Criticize: A lot: supporting Keystone XL, dismissing the Green New Deal, not signing the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge … the list goes on.

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2040 or earlier

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (D), 350 Action (❌ ❌ ❌)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee5022500005500022eb7 Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Lucas Jackson/Reuters Former Rep. John Delaney has proposed $5 billion annually for negative emissions technologies, including carbon capture, and a five-fold bump in funding for federal green energy programs.

The centrist former Maryland congressman has made his firm opposition to the Green New Deal clear. But he released a plan earlier than many candidates, charting a path to net-zero emissions by mid-century.

Cost: $4 trillion, including $5 billion annually for negative emissions technologies, including carbon capture, and a five-fold bump in funding for federal green energy programs. It also includes $20 billion for a so-called “Carbon Throughway,” an infrastructure project to transport, sequester and reuse captured carbon dioxide.

Jobs promised: Unspecified. The Carbon Throughway is expected to create “tens of thousands” of jobs.

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: Delaney has a unique approach to investing in controversial carbon capture technology and makes a direct pitch to labor, particularly construction unions that have opposed efforts to eliminate fossil fuels. 

What The Wonks Criticize: Environmentalists are quick to call carbon capture a “false” solution that elongates the runway for fossil fuels. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2050

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (C-), 350 Action (❌ ❌), Data for Progress (Very Incomplete)

Tulsi Gabbard

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has neither signed on to the Green New Deal nor released a full climate proposal of her own.

The Hawaii congresswoman led the charge on climate well before it was the defining issue of the 2020 primary. In 2017, she first proposed the Off Fossil Fuels Act, vowing to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2035. The proposal won widespread praise in 2018 but now seems outdated in light of the Green New Deal. Gabbard has neither signed on to the Green New Deal nor released a full climate proposal of her own. 

Cost: Unspecified

Jobs Promised: Unspecified

What Stands Out

What The Wonks Criticize: Gabbard lacks a detailed plan. Instead, her climate platform lists actions she’s taken as a member of Congress.

Zeros Out Emissions By: Unclear, but she promises 100% renewable energy by 2035

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B), 350 Action (👍👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee53f3b0000e000cc0faf Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Lucas Jackson/Reuters Rep. Tim Ryan’s framing of climate policy as a “jobs plan” offers a vision of how Democrats can sell such policies in the industrial Midwest.

The Ohio congressman opposed the Green New Deal resolution but championed what he called a “new industrial policy” focused on boosting U.S. manufacturing. On the debate stage, he’s called for focusing on the production of green technologies and an industrial plan that ramps up union membership. Ryan’s framing of climate policy as a “jobs plan” offers a vision of how Democrats can sell such policies to workers in the industrial Midwest. 

Cost: “Over $2 trillion” for infrastructure spending, citing an American Society of Civil Engineers estimate

Jobs promised: Unspecified

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Does not support ban.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

What Stands Out: The Ryan campaign’s thinly detailed agriculture proposal calls for redirecting an unspecified portion of food subsidies from corn and other grains, which take in 60%, to vegetables and fruits, which receive only 0.45%. 

What The Wonks Criticize: The plan lacks details. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: Unclear

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (D+), 350 Action ( 👍)

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee55f3b00007902cc0fcd Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Stephen Lam/Reuters Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen Climate, would declare climate change a national emergency.

The billionaire activist who founded climate action group NextGen America promised to take the mantle of “climate candidate” from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who dropped out in August. But Steyer’s late entry into the primary race left environmentalists scratching their heads. His polling has been too low to make it onto the debate stage, and his climate proposal offers little to set it apart from bigger-name contenders. 

Cost: $2 trillion

  • Fossil fuel drilling on public lands? Supports ban.

  • Fracking? Unclear, though he’s funded anti-fracking campaigns across the country.

  • Subsidies to fossil fuel companies? Supports ban.

Jobs promised: Unspecified “millions,” with at least 1 million in a Climate Conservation Corps

What Stands Out: The plan would declare climate change a national emergency.

What The Wonks Criticize: The proposal lacks specifics, and a national emergency could open the door to potentially dangerous executive powers. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 100% carbon neutral economy by 2045, reduce asthma-causing air pollution by 2030

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B+), 350 Action (👍👍👍) 

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee583240000320073145f Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Lucas Jackson/Reuters Author Marianne Williamson said she would wage war against the oil, gas and coal industries. But she’s an even more credible antagonist of industrial agriculture.

The self-help guru’s love-powered campaign offers little for the fossil fuel industry to like. Williamson backed the Green New Deal and vowed to appoint Cabinet chiefs who would wage war against the oil, gas and coal industries. But she’s an even more credible antagonist of industrial agriculture and has used her time on the debate stage to call attention to genetically modified foods and subsidies. 

Cost: Unspecified. Simply calls for “massive investments” in green energy.

Jobs promised: Unspecified. The plan calls for job training programs to transition fossil fuel workers into careers in renewable energies and building renovation.

What Stands Out: Her proposal emphasizes that cutting food waste, promoting plant-based diets and better managing land are essential for limiting planetary warming. It also would require corporations to commit to “a series” of emissions targets that get them to zero by 2050 or face fines.

What The Wonks Criticize: Williamson’s platform lacks many specifics. Still, some environmental groups say she’s “on the right track.” 

Zeros Out Emissions By: “2050 at the latest”

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (B), 350 Action (👍👍👍)

Out, But For Comparison:

Westlake Legal Group 5d6ee5a03b00007902cc100c Here’s Your Cheat Sheet For The Democratic Candidates’ Climate Plans

Lucas Jackson/Reuters Washington Gov. Jay Inslee dropped out of the 2020 race last month but has offered an open-source climate plan for the eventual Democratic nominee.

The Washington governor ended his climate-centered bid for the White House in August. But his team produced nearly 200 pages of impressively detailed climate policy, which Inslee offered as an open-source governing document for the eventual Democratic nominee.

Cost: $9 trillion, with three-quarters coming from private investors

Jobs: 8 million

What Stands Out: The entire package of plans clearly designated different federal agencies to take on the work. 

What The Wonks Criticize: Inslee’s plans were held up as the “gold standard,” though in comparison to the Sanders proposal, some might say the governor lacked revolutionary ambition. 

Zeros Out Emissions By: 2030 for most sectors, 2050 economy-wide

Ranking By Advocates: Greenpeace (A-), 350 Action (👍👍👍), Data for Progress (Very Thorough)

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ahead of Climate Town Hall, Kamala Harris Releases $10 Trillion Plan

WASHINGTON — Senator Kamala Harris of California released an ambitious new climate change plan early Wednesday, calling for $10 trillion in spending over a decade to combat human-driven global warming and a new tax or fee on companies that emit greenhouse pollution.

Ms. Harris unveiled her plan hours before a CNN town-hall-style event on global warming, which 10 Democratic candidates are scheduled to attend — the first time in a presidential campaign that the question of what to do about the heating planet has merited its own major forum on prime-time television.

Ms. Harris’s announcement came one day after three other candidates released climate plans, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading rival for the nomination. And Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., also put out a plan Wednesday morning.

Ms. Harris, a former California attorney general, styled herself as a uniquely qualified prosecutor-in-chief who would maximize the power of the legal system to penalize corporate polluters and deliver “climate justice” to poor communities that suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change, like flooding, heat waves and food and water shortages.

Read More About the Candidates’ Plans
Elizabeth Warren Unveils Climate Change Plan, Embracing Jay Inslee’s Goals

Sept. 3, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 03warren-climae-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Ahead of Climate Town Hall, Kamala Harris Releases $10 Trillion Plan Warren, Elizabeth Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Klobuchar, Amy Inslee, Jay Harris, Kamala D Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Democratic Party Debates (Political) Castro, Julian Booker, Cory A Biden, Joseph R Jr
Democrats Say Their Climate Plans Will Create Jobs. It’s Not So Simple.

Sept. 4, 2019

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As the candidates headed to the forum in New York on Wednesday, Hurricane Dorian was lashing Florida after inflicting devastating damage to the Bahamas, where at least seven people have been killed in the storm.

Ms. Harris initially declined an invitation to the forum, citing a scheduling conflict, but her campaign later reversed that decision as criticism mounted from some environmental groups.

“Climate is obviously an important issue to Democratic primary voters, and the candidates are responding,” said Robert Shrum, a veteran Democratic consultant and director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

Coming Tonight
Join us on NYTimes.com for analysis of the climate forum.

Many of the candidates’ plans, including Ms. Harris’s, bear similarities to proposals championed by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who focused his presidential campaign on combating climate change but dropped out last month after it became clear he was unlikely to qualify for the next primary debate.

Mr. Inslee would not have been invited to the climate change forum, either, having failed to reach 2 percent support in enough polls. But analysts said that Mr. Inslee’s influence on the rest of the Democratic presidential field was clear.

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Gov. Jay Inslee focused his presidential campaign on combating climate change but dropped out last month.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Jay Inslee wrote a super-set of climate policy options, and candidates are taking subsets of Inslee ideas,” said Kevin Book, an analyst with ClearView Energy Partners, a nonpartisan Washington research organization.

Mr. Inslee released six detailed climate plans, totaling over 200 pages. He said he hoped they would help “raise the ambition” of other candidates’ climate policies, and he has since had conversations with several candidates about how to incorporate his ideas into their plans, said his former campaign spokesman, Jared Leopold.

On Tuesday night, Ms. Warren released a broad new climate change plan — her third such plan of the campaign — in which she explicitly adopted some of Mr. Inslee’s policies. “While his presidential campaign may be over, his ideas should remain at the center of the agenda,” Ms. Warren wrote.

The Weekly

Ms. Harris’s plan includes many of the same basic policy elements as those of her rivals: a blueprint to end fossil fuel pollution from electricity generation by 2030, a halt on new fossil fuel leases on public lands and the imposition of aggressive new regulations on vehicle tailpipe pollution.

Environmental policy experts noted that Ms. Harris’s record on advancing climate change policy was thin, though she was an early advocate of the Green New Deal. But they said her focus on using the courts as a muscular tool to push through concrete greenhouse gas reductions could be effective, given that Congress has failed to do so.

“She’s going to throw the book at climate,” Mr. Book said. “It could be one way to meet the challenge of making radical new change with decades-old laws.”

In her new proposal, Ms. Warren adopts Mr. Inslee’s plan to eliminate planet-warming emissions from power plants, vehicles and buildings over 10 years, and adds an additional $1 trillion in spending to subsidize that transition. The spending would be paid for, she said, by reversing the Trump administration’s tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations.

Like Mr. Inslee’s proposal, her plan would set regulations aimed at retiring coal-fired power plants within a decade, but also fund health care and pensions for coal miners. It would create new federal regulations on tailpipe emissions with the goal of achieving zero emissions from new light-duty passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks and buses by 2030.

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan calls for eliminating planet-warming emissions from power plants, vehicles and buildings over 10 years.CreditElizabeth Frantz for The New York Times

Mr. Castro’s plan also includes several ideas either directly adopted from or developed in consultation with Mr. Inslee, such as a plan to replace all coal-fired power generation with zero-emissions sources by 2030, and a proposal to marshal $10 trillion in federal, state, local and private spending on jobs associated with the transition from polluting to nonpolluting energy.

At least some echoes of Mr. Inslee’s proposals are also included in Mr. Booker’s plan, which calls for $3 trillion in spending to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2045, and in Ms. Klobuchar’s plan, which calls for reinstating Obama-era regulations on fossil fuel emissions to put the nation on track to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a rival of Ms. Warren’s on the left, has not explicitly taken up Mr. Inslee’s ideas. Instead, analysts said, he is trying to win over the progressive wing of the Democratic Party with a climate plan that takes its name from the Green New Deal and has the biggest price tag of all the candidates’ proposals — $16.3 trillion over 15 years. He has called for banning fracking to extract natural gas, and for halting the import and export of coal, oil and natural gas.

“I think Sanders is looking for ways to prove that he’s the true progressive in the race,” said Paul Bledsoe, a lecturer at American University’s Center for Environmental Policy.

Mr. Buttigieg’s plan also makes no reference to Mr. Inslee. It calls for putting an unspecified price on carbon that will rise over time and quadrupling spending on clean energy research and development to $25 billion per year to achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury. The Buttigieg campaign said total federal spending would range from $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion.

Mr. Bledsoe said Wednesday night’s forum could be an opportunity for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to burnish his image. Mr. Biden’s climate plan, which calls for $1.7 trillion in spending over 10 years, initially won praise from environmental activists. But he came under attack from other candidates at the second Democratic debate for not being ambitious enough.

More Coverage of Climate and the Campaign
Bernie Sanders’s ‘Green New Deal’: A $16 Trillion Climate Plan

Aug. 22, 2019

Climate Change Takes Center Stage as Biden and Warren Release Plans

June 4, 2019

We Asked the 2020 Democrats About Climate Change (Yes, All of Them). Here Are Their Ideas.

April 18, 2019

2020 Democrats on Climate Change

June 19, 2019

Polls reflect that climate change is a rising concern among voters.

In a survey published by Quinnipiac University last week, a majority of registered voters nationwide, 56 percent, say that climate change is an emergency. That majority included 84 percent of Democrats, but 81 percent of Republicans say that climate change is not an emergency.

Voters also think that the United States is not doing enough to address climate change, with 67 percent of voters saying more needs to be done.

Republican officials say the plans that Democrats have devised to address climate change will decimate the economy.

Mandy Gunasekara, a former policy adviser at the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration, branded Democrats’ plans as socialist takeovers of the economy.

“Most Americans who talk about climate change, when you ask them, ‘O.K., how much are you willing to pay,’ it’s minimal to none. These trillion-dollar plans that each of them are putting up need some measure of honesty,” she said.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for President Trump’s re-election campaign, wrote in an email, “The Democrats’ radical approach to energy is to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels, which would kill more than 10 million jobs and inflict economic catastrophe across the country.”

Mr. Bledsoe said there was some political danger for Democrats in attempting to outdo one another.

“In all honesty, every one of the climate plans proposed is more ambitious than anything that’s ever been remotely contemplated before,” he said. “But the danger is that they ignore the nuts and bolts of energy politics of swing states and risk handing Trump the election.”

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