Letter to CNN Debate Moderators: Ask Trump about his deal with Big Oil

June 20, 2024

To: Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, CNN


Dear Mr. Tapper and Ms. Bash:

We have appreciated and admired your skillful debate moderation in the past. As you know, CNN’s June 27 presidential debate will be the first opportunity in years for voters to hear directly from President Biden and former President Trump on the same stage about how they will address the pressing issues of our time. 

As climate change makes extreme weather disasters more frequent, destructive, and expensive, we are counting on you to ensure the voters know where President Biden and former President Trump stand. The undersigned organizations are calling on you, the debate moderators, to ask President Trump about the “deal” he made with top oil executives – $1 billion to enact their policy wish list.

Polling shows that the vast majority of voters support climate action, yet they don’t know much about Trump’s record on the environment or the promises he made behind closed doors to Big Oil executives while begging them for money. $1 billion is an exorbitant amount of cash (in fact it is more than 150,000x the legal maximum a candidate for president can solicit from an individual) and voters deserve to hear exactly what Trump promised Big Oil CEOs.

The candidates’ records on climate are clear. Donald Trump gutted over 100 environmental protections as president. President Biden has taken over 300 environmental actions to address the climate crisis, the most in history. But poll after poll  has found that many voters don’t yet know this.

In just the last few weeks, Trump rally goers were hospitalized due to a climate-fueled heat wave, NOAA forecasted we’ll have the highest hurricane season in history, and South Florida experienced life-threatening flooding. The costs and impacts of the climate crisis are devastating for American families. 

Reports also suggest that Trump pledged to Big Oil that he will crush their clean energy competitors on day one – specifically in the offshore wind and electric vehicles industries.  That would not only eliminate energy choices for families and enable the oil industry to raise prices, it would also pull the rug out from under American businesses and jeopardize hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

When all eyes are on the party nominees on June 27, we hope you will take the opportunity to help voters learn more about President Trump’s promise to top oil executives and dig into both candidates’ records on climate. Thank you very much for providing this opportunity to the candidates and the American people.


Clean Air Moms Action

Clean Energy For America

Climate Power

EDF Action

Evergreen Action

Fossil Free Media

League of Conservation Voters

NRDC Action Fund

Sierra Club