When It Comes to Fracking, Which Biden Should We Believe?
Joe Biden says he wouldn’t ban fracking. But the Democratic National Committee’s climate advisory panel, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, says fracking should be banned. What are we to believe?
Biden is the candidate, of course, and the position should be his to stake out. But there’s a lot more at play.
Fracking is a key issue in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan where hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs depend the largely state-governed process of producing oil from shale rock formations.
During the primary campaign, Biden flip-flopped back and forth on banning fracking, finally alighting on an intermediary position where he wouldn’t ban fracking outright but would act to limit it on federally-owned lands.
After Biden had cemented the nomination, the firebrand Ocasio-Cortez was named as a climate advisor and installed on the Democratic National Committee’s climate advisory panel.
In early June, the DNC Environment and Climate Crisis Council issued a report that called for “legislation permanently banning fracking and enhanced oil recovery and initiate a managed phaseout of existing operations.”
The purpose of the report is to “recommend a sweeping set of policies for inclusion in the new four-year 2020 Democratic Party platform, which will be approved at the August convention.”
While it is not uncommon for presidential candidates and their party platforms to often diverge, is the fracking fracture between Biden and the Democratic Council more significant?
Of course it is.
Only 28% of Democrat voters are “very enthusiastic” about supporting Joe Biden, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken in May. Democrats will vote for Biden, but not because they are wild about his policies. They believe the perception of him as a moderate is their best shot at defeating President Trump. Biden’s policy prescriptions, to the extent they are even discernible, are not a strong selling point for him.
Given Biden’s campaign trail history of fracking flip-flops, voters would be right to question his intentions. There is no doubt that Biden well remembers the irreparable damage Hillary Clinton’s did to her 2016 campaign with her promise that she was going to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” A feat that had, in fact, already been accomplished by the Obama-Biden administration.
Any whiff of similar intentions toward fracking could be disastrous in battleground states.
But perhaps a the most telling omen for Biden and fracking was recently intimated in the Washington Post.
In an op-ed written by transgender Democrat activist Charlotte Clymer, “Take heart, progressives: When the party moves left, Biden has always followed.” Clymer noted, “Those who worry Biden won’t absorb enough of [Bernie] Sanders’s values and positions — whether on climate change, holding corporate corruption accountable or ensuring relief on crushing student debt — should consider his history of evolution.” Clymer went on to discuss a host of issues that Biden has moved left on when prodded by progressives, including abortion, same-sex marriage, free college and various renouncements of earlier non-progressive positions.
What does that mean?
Joe Biden is 77 years old, but sounds and acts older and feebler. As per Clymer’s hopes, one could easily imagine President Biden being pushed by more progressive advisers into a fracking ban or regulating fracking into a de facto ban.
Biden may deny he would ban fracking. But the question for voters should be, would it really be up to him?
Panicked Democrats are now trying to back away from the DNC report calling for the fracking ban. A “senior Democrat familiar with the DNC’s workings” said to Reuters of the recommended fracking ban, “It’s a nonstarter.”
About the Ocasio-Cortez-led DNC climate panel, the understandably anonymous source said, “Nobody takes them seriously.”
That will be disconcerting news to the likes of Ocasio-Cortez and all the Bernie Sanders supporters who, as it is, already have to hold their noses and vote for Biden.