During the one and only vice presidential debate for the 2020 presidential elections, Vice President Mike Pence forced vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris to defend Joe Biden’s record on fracking and accused Biden of supporting a ban on fracking. Biden has said he will not ban fracking.
Fracking, as defined in Investopedia, is shorthand for “hydraulic fracturing,” a process through which fluid is injected into the cracks of rocks to expand the cracks and make it easier to recover oil and gas. Fracking has been criticized for its costs and negative environmental effects, including consuming voluminous amounts of water and resulting in chemicals leaching into groundwater.
The accusation came as the former California attorney general and the current senator was facing off against Pence during the debate held Wednesday night on October 7. The debate was moderated by USA Today reporter Susan Page and located at a performing arts theater called Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The debaters were separated by plexiglass and separated by 12 feet to observe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines around COVID-19.
Biden Did Not Say He Wants to Ban Fracking
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) October 8, 2020
The Hill reported that Biden said, “I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”
In September, Biden actually faced criticism from 145 climate activist groups who said that his plan did not go far enough because it did not ban all fracking and he also wouldn’t pledge to keep fossil fuel executives out of his cabinet, The Hill reported.
In a letter the groups sent to Biden’s campaign, The Hill reported, they wrote, “We urge you to ban all fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, and representatives from any advisory or official position on your campaign, transition team, cabinet, and administration.”
You can watch Biden’s position on energy in the video on his campaign website:
Biden has said that he does not want to issue any permits for new fracking ventures on federal lands. His website described, “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters.” This is different from banning fracking altogether.
Biden told CNBC in May, “The whole idea of whether or not we’re going to stop fracking, I would not stop fracking. I’d gradually move away from fracking. I would just not do more fracking on federal lands. I would gradually move us out of the position of relying on oil and gas, excuse me, and coal.”
Harris Advocated for Banning Fracking During the Primaries
— Francis Brennan (@FrancisBrennan) October 8, 2020
During the vice-presidential debate, Harris unequivocally pushed back against allegations that Biden said he supported fracking, yet did not address her own history on the issue when she said during the Democratic primaries for president that she would support a ban on fracking.
Trump tweeted out the video showing Harris clearly saying she would support a fracking ban.
The Wall Street Journal had reported in August that Harris’ previous stance on saying she would support a fracking ban could hurt her in Pennsylvania towns where natural gas production companies provide a major source of employment.
Political pundits covering debate reaction on CNN noted that it is not unusual for vice presidential and other cabinet picks to fall in line with the plans supported by the person at top of a political ticket.
Fracking is bad, actually
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 8, 2020
The Hill reported that Ocasio-Cortez is the co-chair of the Biden campaign’s climate task force.