Will Vice President Kamala Harris advocate for animals and the planet? The answer is clear.
For animal advocates and environmentalists, the past four years of the Trump administration have been devastating. It felt like a day didn’t pass during which Trump wasn’t deregulating corporate polluters, ending a ban on commercial fishing in protected waters, signing an executive order repealing a hunting ban, or gaslighting people suffering from forest fires, hurricanes, and floods. Given Trump’s dismal record on animal rights and the environment, it has always been a mystery how anyone who cares about animals or the planet could support him.
While most elected Democrats fail to sufficiently address industrial animal agriculture, most of them support legislation that favors other animals. They also passionately embrace policies that mitigate climate change, which affects aquatic and wildlife, and animals warehoused for food since they also die in fires and floods caused by climate disasters.
Fortunately, animal advocates and environmentalists have a powerful supporter in the White House in Kamala Harris. Harris has an extremely favorable record on animal rights issues from her time as a prosecutor and U.S. Senator. She has also represented California, the state with the strongest animal rights and climate change policies in the country, so she comes to the White House familiar with the issues.
Here’s what we know about Harris’ record thus far.
Harris defended challenges to animal welfare laws that provide for the more humane treatment of animals slaughtered for food. In 2020, Harris stated that the United States needs to examine its food system and consider the impact of meat on the planet. She added that she would support changing the USDA’s dietary guidelines to better reflect healthier choices. Harris also co-sponsored the bill that aimed to prevent slaughterhouses from increasing meat processing speeds, supported legislation to ban shark fin trading, and defended California’s foie gras ban.
Harris favors rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. She has advocated passionately for reducing carbon emissions and holding fossil fuel companies accountable. She also supports moving the United States to sustainable energy, defended fuel efficiency requirements, and fought rollbacks on carbon pollution. She opposed the TPP because it didn’t raise environmental standards.
Aquatic and Wildlife
Harris has been a leading advocate for wildlife conservation and habitat protection, including the Endangered Species Act. She also supported legislation to reduce wildlife trafficking.
Harris has fought against puppy mills and worked to improve dogs’ living conditions. She advocated for federal funding for companion dogs for veterans with PTSD.
Vivisection and Animal Testing
Harris supported USDA inspectors in research labs, opposed testing on animals, and suggested alternative methods to determine the safety of products.
Harris supported legislation to reduce horse abuse and end racehorse doping.
Harris co-sponsored legislation that would expedite finding homes for animals rescued or seized from animal fighting operations and hold criminals legally and financially responsible for placing them in safe homes.
Unlike Donald Trump, who appointed oil and hunting lobbyists to head the EPA and Department of Interior and then gutted protections for animals, land, water, and air, Biden and Harris will appoint the country’s foremost experts to cabinet positions. These will be smart and experienced professionals who have spent their careers advocating for policies consistent with the agencies’ mission statements.
Harris has a strong track record of supporting humane legislation, opposing the abuse of animals, and protecting the planet. Animal rights and environmental advocates should celebrate that they have a vice president who will champion these causes.