• Paul Steinhauser

Harris vows to make clean water a priority as president

Democratic Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris greets supporters at the Portsmouth Democratic Committee's annual banquet at the Portsmouth Harbor Events and Conference Center. [Ralph Morang/]

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris says she’ll “declare a clean drinking water emergency” if she wins the White House.

Speaking with Seacoast Online before headlining the Portsmouth Democratic Party’s annual fundraising gala, the first-term senator from California said tackling contaminated water is “going to be a priority for me.”

Pointing to her record, Harris emphasized that “when I was attorney general of California, these issues were a priority for me, going after and keeping accountable people who were polluting our water and polluting our air.”

“I am prepared as president ... to declare a clean drinking water emergency,” she said. “I am prepared to put in place $250 billion to upgrade the water infrastructure system of the United States.

“All of this is going to be about accountability but with the goal also of ensuring that Americans have clean drinking water and right now we can’t guarantee that’s the case unless there’s a priority around it,” the senator added.

With ongoing water contamination issues at Pease International Tradeport and the Coakley landfill in Greenland and North Hampton, the issue is a big concern for many Seacoast residents.

In July Harris introduced legislation designed to ensure all Americans -- and in particular those living in at-risk communities -- have access to safe, affordable drinking water. The senator’s “Water Justice Act” would invest nearly $220 billion in clean and safe drinking water programs and would declare a drinking water infrastructure emergency -- with $50 billion going to communities and schools where water is contaminated.

Harris’ latest trip to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state came as she registered in the upper single digits in most polling in the race for the Democratic nomination. At the same time, most surveys suggest Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts battling for second place behind front-runner Joe Biden, the former vice president.


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