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Cornwall Alliance / October 26, 2020

Biden vs. Obama on Fracking

Perhaps Biden is conflicted between his support for fracking (during the Obama administration) and the new populist view of the Green New Deal.

By Vijay Jayaraj

Fracking — a procedure to extract natural gas from earth — made headlines recently after Vice President Mike Pence and Democrat vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris brought it up during their debate.

Leading up to the 2020 elections, both Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden and Senator Harris, on various occasions, have remarked that they will end fracking. But during the vice presidential debate, Harris denied Biden’s anti-fracking stance and instead remarked that Biden would continue with fracking if elected.

When the vice president reminded Senator Harris about Biden’s pledge to abolish fracking, she responded, “Joe Biden will not end fracking. He’s been very clear on that.”

Perhaps Biden is conflicted between his support for fracking (during the Obama administration) and the new populist view of the Green New Deal (GND). Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the mastermind behind the GND, which seeks to end all fossil fuel energy generation in the U.S., advocates for a ban on fracking and other fossil fuel extractions.

On Twitter, AOC weighed in her opinion on the fracking debate. She tweeted, “Fracking is bad, actually.” The congresswoman either has no knowledge about the energy sector’s growth in the past decade or is conveniently ignoring it, all while benefiting immensely from the services of oil and gas to the U.S. economy.

Fracking has been revolutionary. Presidents from both the Republican and Democrat Parties have promoted and supported fracking. In fact, former President Barack Obama laid the foundations for the ongoing fracking boom in America. Obama’s administration made major reforms to boost natural gas production.

Obama’s many pro-fracking moves include streamlining federal regulations for smoother natural gas production, relaxing pollution compliance requirements for oil and gas extractors, and doing away with the requirement for mandatory disclosure of chemicals used before drilling starts.

Under Obama’s watch, U.S. natural gas production almost quadrupled between 2009 and 2015. The U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the highest petroleum and natural gas producer by 2014 and has remained the global leader.

Obama was even proud about the historic increase in oil production and his administration’s efforts to boost the production further. At a 2018 event, Obama took credit for America’s booming oil and gas industry: “I know we’re in oil country and we need American energy. … You wouldn’t always know it, but it went up every year I was president. That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas — that was me, people.”

During Obama’s administration, the U.S. promoted fracking even beyond the national borders. The U.S. State Department under Hillary Clinton worked tirelessly to promote fracking globally, inking significant deals with other countries, enabling U.S oil companies to help these countries extract natural gas and oil.

When Donald Trump — an advocate for fossil fuel use — became the president in 2016, the fracking industry flourished further, reducing U.S. dependence on oil from the Middle East. Today, the natural gas industry employs more than 10.3 million people and accounts for about 8% of U.S. GDP. It has directly benefited thousands of communities across the states and has made the U.S. energy independent.

Even staunch climate alarmists like Obama have explicitly supported fracking and are even proud about their role in increasing U.S. oil production. The only plausible reason why the current Democrat presidential nominee is unclear about his support for fracking may be the growing anti-fossil fuel sentiment among his party’s supporters, who are becoming fans of the GND.

The modern anti-fossil fuel movement completely disregards the benefits of the fossil industry, and instead brands fossil fuels as villains for the false climate emergency they believe in. The influence of this on Biden’s proposed Clean Energy Plan — which seeks to end all fossil fuel energy by 2035 — is very evident, standing in stark contrast to his own stance on fracking.

No matter who wins the election in November 2020, the fracking industry must go on. America’s energy security must not be tossed back and forth to satisfy a radical green agenda like GND. And yes, fracking is good.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England) is a research contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and resides in New Delhi, India.

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