Elizabeth Warren highlighted the threat of climate change and called for regulations to rein in corporate polluters during a speech Monday delivered to an audience of climate and labor activists at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference in Washington.
"A lot of people think that regulations bring higher costs," Warren said. "But regulation is also about making sure that someone doesn't get to beat out the competition because they're dumping filth in the river or spewing poisons in the air."
Warren warned that if corporations are not properly policed, the cost of doing business will be borne by "children who can't drink the water."
The senator also slammed major oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips for pulling in "combined profits of 90 billion dollars" in 2014 while the industry "sucked down $5 billion in subsidies from the American people."
Warren called for an end to tax loopholes and subsidies that benefit mega-corporations, saying that those billions should be used for investment in infrastructure, education, and "scientific research that could lead to energy breakthroughs."
The anti-Wall Street crusader is not well known for her environmental record. But Warren's criticism of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that activists fear could weaken environmental protections, have made her a rising star in the environmental world.
Many progressive environmentalists believe Warren would be a better candidate than Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination—so much so that Ready for Warren, a group pushing Warren to make a presidential run, plans to launch "Environmental Activists for Warren" this month.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune called Warren a "strong voice for tackling the climate crisis" ahead of her speech on Monday.
The senator steered clear of some hot-button issues like fracking during her speech, but lamented the fact that "we haven't seen any major legislation on climate change" and called for greater investment in infrastructure so that the U.S. will be able to deal with extreme weather made worse by global warming.