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South Florida Man Challenges Rubio on Climate Change in New Hampshire

South Florida Man Challenges Rubio on Climate Change in New Hampshire
Posted at 3:00 PM, Feb 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-08 17:58:27-05

LONDONDERRY, NH (WTXL) — Dan Kipnis has been in New Hampshire since Marco Rubio left Iowa, and on Sunday he finally got what he wanted.

"This is my third attempt with Senator Rubio, to get him to answer this question," he said at a town hall event in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Kipnis is a retired fishing boat captain from Miami Beach who plans to sell his house because of the rising sea levels. He knows first-hand the impact of climate change, and he came to New Hampshire to make the climate an issue in the primary.

But for Kipnis, addressing climate change goes beyond the decreasing value of his home. He's worried about the younger generations who will have to pick up the issue if it isn't addressed soon.

"All these kids that are 7, 8, 10, 12-years-old in the audience today, I'm asking these questions for them," he explained. "They're the ones that are going to bear the brunt of this."

Kipnis travelled to New Hampshire to present Rubio with a petition from climatetruth.org. 19,000 members signed the document, calling upon the senator to "...develop a science-based climate plan to cut global warming emissions."

Rubio took Kipnis' question in a high school cafeteria in front of more than 700 people. He told the retired captain he supports measures to combat rising sea levels.

"I actually support mitigation," he said, referencing pumps that would prevent flooding. "I think there are things we need to do to mitigate the impact that this is having."

But, for the senator, it is not worth passing climate change laws that don't have a significant impact on the environment, especially if they can hurt businesses.

"We cannot pass policies that do nothing for the environment, but will destroy the economy," he told the audience.

But he said that didn't mean he wouldn't support climate legislation at all.

"I don't think these two things have to be in conflict," he said. "I think you can be pro-economy and pro-environment, but you have to do it in a way that is responsible for both."

Aly Johnson, a college student from Vermont, also attended the event to pressure Rubio to address climate change. The presidential candidate did not mention lowering greenhouse gas emissions, which raised a red flag for Johnson.

"That was not included in his policy whatsoever," she said. "So we were pretty disappointed."

Johnson also took issue with Rubio's support for fracking. An industry she believes Rubio misrepresented at the event.

"It is detrimental to the planet," she said. "It is not a clean fuel as he would like us to believe."

For Kipnis, this approach isn't enough to solve the problem of climate change. But he was happy the issue has been addressed during the lead up to the New Hampshire primary.

"What I noticed was, in the last four days, when he's asked the question by other people, his answer has changed," he said. "It's much more in depth. He's been giving it a lot of thought, obviously. I still don't like the whole answer, but at least he's thinking about it. And that is why I'm up here."

The fact that Rubio made any changes to his position on climate change was a victory for Kipnis.

"That's why I'm asking these questions," he said. "I want these candidates to have to address what I feel is the most important issue facing mankind. Period."

Now that he did what he set out to do, Kipnis is ready to make his way out of the cold weather in New Hampshire.

"I need to go home to Miami Beach where it's 85 degrees."