The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board is weighing-in on former Vice President Biden’s fracking comments from yesterday, highlighting Biden’s unclear fracking remarks and his failure to “speak out clearly and forcefully” about the importance of fracking to Pennsylvania.
While Biden attempted to shore up support in Pennsylvania yesterday by assuring voters he won’t ban fracking outright, instead opting to ban all new natural gas and oil drilling on federal lands, such an assurance will do little to help Americans in states like New Mexico, whose economy would be severely impacted by Biden’s proposed ban.
About two-thirds of current drilling in New Mexico takes place on federally controlled land, and 35% of the state’s revenue in FY2019 came from natural gas and oil related activities. Additionally, a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study reported the natural gas and oil industry supported over 117,000 jobs in New Mexico and contributed more than $17 billion to the state’s economy in 2018.
The Biden campaign has centered their fracking messaging around Pennsylvania, but little attention is being given to the Americans who would be most hurt by Biden’s proposed federal drilling ban.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Biden’s confusing stand on fracking
The Editorial Board
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is upset with TV ads claiming he wants to ban fracking.
Mr. Biden said he only wants to ban new fracking on public lands and waters, and most fracking takes place on private property.
His campaign is asking Pennsylvania TV stations to stop running the ad from America First Action, which supports the re-election of President Donald Trump.
In Pittsburgh on Monday, Mr. Biden told his audience that “I am not banning fracking … no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”
However, Mr. Biden only has himself to blame for being vulnerable on the issue of fracking, a drilling technique used to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock formations. He has made several comments about fracking, which his aides have later had to backtrack.
During a CNN debate in July 2019, Mr. Biden said, “We would make sure it’s eliminated,” when asked if there would be a place for “fossil fuels, including coal and fracking” in his administration.
Mr. Biden’s campaign later clarified that he supports ending subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.
During a debate in March, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said, “I’m talking about stopping fracking as soon as we possibly can. I’m talking about telling the fossil fuel industry that they are going to stop destroying this planet — no ifs, buts and maybes about it.”
“So am I,” said Mr. Biden, adding: “No more — no new fracking.”
Mr. Biden’s campaign later clarified that he was only referring to new drilling for oil and natural gas on federally owned areas.
Mr. Biden’s also upset with the ad because it says such a ban would cost Pennsylvania 600,000 jobs; his campaign maintains that the fracking industry only employs 20,000 people in Pennsylvania.
The fracking industry is essential in Pennsylvania, especially in the southwest and northeast sections of the state. Both areas went for Mr. Trump big time in 2016, and whoever wins Pennsylvania this year will need their support. With Pennsylvania’s 20 votes in the Electoral College up for grabs this fall, the fracking industry could play a pivotal role in who wins the presidency.
To that extent, Mr. Trump has repeatedly made trips to those areas of the state, promoting the fracking industry as much as possible.
Mr. Biden has been more cautious in his support, perhaps fearing backlash from Mr. Sanders and other leftists and progressives who favor an outright ban on fracking.
Mr. Biden laid out his energy goals in “Joe’s Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice,” which his campaign released in June 2019. During the transition to renewable energy, he would allow fracking.
However, Mr. Biden needs to speak out clearly and forcefully about fracking instead of letting it languish in studies, which nobody reads.
His message Monday in Pittsburgh was clear, but he’ll need to keep repeating it.