Thomas Gallatin / September 11, 2020

Biden’s Fracking Flip-Flop

To gain working-class votes in Rust Belt battleground states, Joe changed his tune.

In an obvious effort to win votes in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Joe Biden on Monday emphatically declared, “I am not banning fracking.” Talk about a policy flip-flop.

Way back in July 2019, Biden was promising the opposite. In a Democrat presidential debate that month, he was asked, “Would there be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?” Biden answered, “No, we would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated.” At a campaign event in September 2019, Biden once again pledged to end America’s reliance on fossil fuels, stating, “Look at my eyes. I guarantee you — I guarantee you — we’re going to end fossil fuels.” And in February, Biden again said he would “get rid of” or “phase out” fossil fuels, while at the same time promising to bring in thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, has likewise backed off her previous staunch opposition to fracking. On Sunday, she insisted that fracking provides “good-paying jobs in places like Pennsylvania.” At the same time, Harris sought to plug Biden’s green-energy plan, falsely asserting that it would “put a significant investment in the good-paying union jobs that we can create around clean energy.”

Harris’s sudden change of heart is quite the slap in the face to the Democrats’ environmentally focused hard-left base. In fact, Forbes columnist David Blackmon declared back in August that with Biden’s choice of Harris, “The Democratic Party [had] carved its anti-oil and gas credentials into stone.”

Surprise! It appears that Harris is far more the political opportunist than principled ideologue.

However, Biden hasn’t backed off his anti-fossil fuel stance completely, so far holding firm on his commitment to ban drilling on federal land. This is hardly a difficult position for Biden to take in battleground states like Pennsylvania, where such a policy holds little impact. It’s in western states like New Mexico and Wyoming where the drilling ban on federal lands causes significant economic fallout.

The American Petroleum Institute released a study on Wednesday that concluded Biden’s anti-fossil fuel climate plan would cost America one million jobs and drop the U.S. GDP $700 billion. The Washington Examiner reports, “[The] API’s study … finds a federal drilling ban would cause U.S. GDP to fall by a cumulative $700 billion through 2030. U.S. oil imports would increase by 2 million barrels a day, while natural gas exports, which have boomed during the Trump administration, could decrease by 800 billion cubic feet in a decade.”

The great irony is that the stated reason for Biden’s plan to end drilling on federal lands — to combat climate change — would be ill served by his plan, as it would reverse the downward trend in U.S. carbon emissions. The Examiner explains, “With a federal drilling ban, coal use would increase by 15% by 2030, API said, keeping alive half the coal capacity that would otherwise be retired by that time. As a result, U.S. carbon emissions would rise by 5.5% in the electricity sector by 2030, the study found.”

Then again, just like Biden’s sudden flip-flop on a fracking ban, his motive has never actually been about “saving the planet.” It has everything to do with placating constituents in order to gain political power.

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