ICYMI: Fracking Has Taken Center Stage This Election Cycle

The future of U.S. energy is an important topic this election cycle – and always – as candidates debate on the best path forward to enhance energy security, reliability, affordability and reduce energy-related emissions. This has especially been evident in the recent debates and the sheer number of times the candidates have talked about fracking and oil and natural gas.

Here’s a quick recap from the last presidential debate (transcript via USA Today):

Pres. Donald Trump: “Just like you went on with fracking — ‘We’re not going to have fracking, we’re going to stop fracking, we’re going to stop fracking.’ Then he goes to Pennsylvania after he gets the nomination — well he got very lucky to get it. And he goes to Pennsylvania, and he says, ‘Oh, we’re gonna have fracking.’”

Trump: “Excuse me. We are energy independent for the first time. We don’t need all of these countries that we had a fight war over because we needed their energy. We are energy independent. I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive, kills all the birds, it’s very intermittent. It’s got a lot of problems and they happen to make the windmills in both Germany and China. And the fumes coming up– If you’re a believer in carbon emission, the fumes coming up to make– make these massive windmills is more than anything that we’re talking about with natural gas, which is very clean. One other thing—”

Trump: “So, it’s all a pipe dream, but you know what we’ll do? We’re gonna have the greatest economy in the world. But if you want to kill the economy, get rid of your oil industry. You want– And what about fracking?”

Moderator Kristen Welker: “All right. Let me allow Vice President Biden to respond—”

Former Vice Pres. Joe Biden: “I have never said I oppose fracking.”

Welker: “Would you rule out banning fracking?”

Biden: “I do rule out banning fracking because the answer we need– We need other industries to transition to get to, ultimately, a complete zero emissions by 2025. What I will do with fracking over time is make sure that we can capture the emissions from the fracking. Capture the emissions from gas. We can do that, and we can do that by investing money into– It’s a transition to that.”

Welker: “I have one more question—”

Trump: “Excuse me. He was against fracking. He said it.  I will show that to you tomorrow. ‘I am against fracking’, until he got the nomination, went to Pennsylvania than he said– You know what, Pennsylvania? He’ll be against it very soon because his party is totally against it.”

Biden: “Fracking on federal Land, I said. No fracking or oil on federal land—”

Welker: “Let me ask this final question in this section and then I want to move on to our final section. President Trump, people of color are much more likely to live near oil refineries and chemical plants. In Texas there are families who worry the plants near them are making them sick. Your administration has rolled back regulations on these kinds of facilities. Why should these families give you another four years in office?”

Trump: “The families that we’re talking about are employed heavily and they are making a lot of money, more money than they’ve ever made. If you look at the kind of numbers that we produce for Hispanic, or Black, or Asian, it’s nice times greater, the percentage gain than it was under– in three years– than it was under eight years of the two of them, to put it nicely. Nine times more. Now, somebody lives– I have not heard the numbers or the statistics that you’re saying– But they’re making a tremendous amount of money. Economically, we saved it. And I saved it again a number of months ago when oil was crashing because of the pandemic. We saved it. We got– Say what you want of that relationship, we got Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Russia to cut back, way back. We saved our oil industry and now it’s very vibrant and everybody has very inexpensive gasoline. Remember that.”

Welker: “Vice President Biden, your response and then we’re going to have a final question for both of you.”

Biden: “My response is that those people live on what they call ‘Fence Lines’. He doesn’t understand this. They live near chemical plants that, in fact, pollute.  Chemical plants, and oil plants and refineries that pollute. I used to live near that when I was growing up in Claremont, Delaware. And all the more oil refineries in Marcus Hook and the Delaware River than there is anyplace, including in Houston at the time. When my mom would get the car when they’re first frost to drive me to school, turned on the windshield wipers there’d be oil slick in the window. That’s why so many people in my state were dying and getting cancer. The fact is those frontline communities, it doesn’t matter what you’re paying them. It matters how you keep them safe. What do you do? And you impose restrictions on the pollution, that the pollutants coming out of those fenceline communities.”

Welker: “OK, I have one final question—”

Trump: “Would you close down the– Would you close down the oil industry?”

Biden: “I would transition from the oil industry. Yes.”

Trump: “Oh, transition.”

Biden: “It is a big statement because I would stop—”

Welker: “Why would you do that?”

Biden: “Because the oil industry significantly — but here’s the deal —”

Trump: “That’s a big statement.”

Biden: “Well, if you let me finish the statement, because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time. Over time. And I’d stop giving to the oil industry– I’d stop giving them federal subsidies. You won’t give federal subsidies to the gas and, excuse me, to solar and wind.  Why are we giving it to the oil industry?”

Trump: “Because basically what he’s saying is he’s going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?”

Welker: “Vice President Biden, let me give you ten seconds to respond and then I have to get to the final question. Vice President Biden?”

Biden: “He takes everything out of context, but the point is, look, we have to move toward a net zero emissions. The first place to do that by the year 2025 is in energy production. By 2050, totally.”

Here’s a few responses to the energy-related portions of the debate:


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