Joe Biden’s ‘not banning fracking’ defense, explained

Washington Post “The Fix”

September 1, 2020 at 3:00 a.m. PDT

Joe Biden was unequivocal Monday on his position for one of the more politically sensitive climate change debates: whether to ban the profitable and controversial natural gas extraction process known as fracking.

“I am not banning fracking,” he said in Pittsburgh, a city adjacent to heavy fracking activity, in a speech that was largely about denouncing political violence. “Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”

The Trump campaign pounced, accusing Biden of lying or flip-flopping, mostly by pointing to a clip of Biden saying in a March Democratic presidential primary debate: “No new fracking.” That’s not the first time they’ve harped on that sound bite, even though Biden’s campaign said immediately after that debate that he misspoke, and outside apparently bungling that answer, he has been consistent on this issue as it pertains to the immediate future.

It’s less clear what Biden wants to see happen further off — he also has released a fairly aggressive climate policy plan that aims to reduce dependence on fossil fuels over decades, and he has left open whether fracking will be a part of that. But his position on what to do in a Biden presidency has not changed since the primary: He does not support banning fracking.

Here’s more on what he’s said and why the Trump campaign is going so hard after Biden on this — so much so that Biden felt the need to rebut the attacks Monday head-on.

Biden’s position on a fracking ban

Biden would not allow new fracking on federal lands. He would allow existing fracking to continue on federal property and existing and new fracking to continue on private land. And that means the majority of fracking would go on undisturbed, since most of it takes place on private land anyway. Americans get more coal and oil than natural gas from public lands.

What happened when Biden says he misspoke about his fracking position

Biden was in a heated debate in March with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about this. Sanders and other liberal powerhouses want to ban all fracking, which is in line with what many climate change activists want.

Sanders: “I’m talking about stopping fracking as soon as we possibly can. I’m talking about telling the fossil fuel industry that they are going to stop destroying this planet — no ifs, buts and maybes about it.”

Biden: “So am I.”

Sanders: “Well, I’m not sure your proposal does that.”

Biden: “No more — no new fracking.”

Biden was wrong about his own proposal then. As The Washington Post’s Salvador Rizzo fact-checked at the time: “The Biden campaign said that he misspoke and that his position was the same as ever: He would issue no new fracking permits for federal lands or waters, while allowing existing fracking operations to continue.”

The campaign points to half a dozen other times in the past year when Biden has explicitly said he won’t ban fracking. As far back as a town hall in September 2019, he declined to endorse a ban. “His position has never changed and certainly didn’t change today,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates told The Fix on Monday.

What about all the other times the Trump campaign keeps saying Biden was supportive of fracking?

Republicans and conservative media ran with what Biden said in that March debate and have been searching for comments from Biden ever since to try to match it.

Most of these examples the Trump campaign uses conflate Biden’s decades-long vision for a clean-energy economy with his immediate plans now for how to do that. The Trump campaign is taking advantage of the fact that Biden wants to move away from fossil fuels, including fracking, to imply Biden wants to ban fracking now.

Biden’s climate plan calls for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and he’s not specific on how to do that and leaves open the possibility of fracking to continue, as The Post’s Fact Checker reported just last week.

Here’s an example of how Biden’s words now and in the future can get twisted. Another debate exchange the Trump campaign frequently points to from July 2019 seems, on initial appearances, like Biden might be open to a ban:

“Would there be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?” CNN’s Dana Bash asks him.

“No,” he answers. “We would work it out, we would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, any fossil fuel.”

Following that exchange, other candidates like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) immediately jumped on Biden for not being more willing to stop fracking and other oil and gas extraction sooner: “We cannot work it out. We cannot work this out. The time is up. Our house is on fire. We have to stop using coal in 10 years, and we need a president to do it or it won’t get done.”

(For what it’s worth, Biden’s vice-presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), agreed with Inslee in that debate. Though she did say: “I would take any Democrat on this stage over the current president of the United States.”)

Now that Biden is out of the Democratic primary, he’s willing to be more straightforward about his position.

Here’s a pretty good summation of where Biden stands on fracking in comparison to his long-term vision for America’s energy economy, in his own words in a May CNBC interview:

“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 and coal.”

Why this is so sensitive for Biden

Biden is trying to navigate through a narrow passageway of politically turbulent waters on fracking. On the right, there is open hostility to banning it. On the left, activists argue the situation is so dire, America needs to ban it and other fossil fuel production ASAP.

And for presidential candidates like Biden and Trump, there is a cold political calculation that fracking provides jobs — lots of jobs — in politically important states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania and Texas. Biden gets pressed about this a lot when he talks to people in those regions, people who might be concerned that electing a Democrat could mean electing someone inclined to take away their jobs. (It’s no coincidence that Biden restated his position on not wanting to ban fracking Monday while in Pittsburgh.)

Here he is getting a question in July from ABC’s affiliate in Scranton, Pa.: “We’re losing a lot of jobs overseas, we’re losing a lot of jobs from the pandemic,” reporter Chelsea Strub asks him. “Especially if fracking is on the chopping block, how are we going to help these displaced workers?”

Biden responds: “Well, fracking is not going to be on the chopping block, as you say.”

Despite one misstatement and an inclination to be supportive of moving away from fossil fuels, that position hasn’t changed.

Amber Phillips analyzes politics for The Washington Post's nonpartisan politics blog and authors The 5-Minute Fix newsletter, a rundown of the day's biggest political news. She was previously the one-woman D.C. bureau for the Las Vegas Sun and has reported from as far away as Taiwan.

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I believe Joe when he says, he has never said he will ban fracking because the old geezer can't remember what flavor pudding he had last night much less remember what he consistently said on video during the primary.  I also believe Joe when he says he's not a racist because Joe can't remember all the racist things he said and did during his close to 50 years in government.  What I can't believe is the blue collar Dems that think this train wreck will be in charge of anything if he gets into office.  If elected he will be the President in title only and will not be the President for long.  Harris is the person who will take over for Biden when he is deemed to be too sick to carry on and even then Harris will also be the President in title only with the Bernie BROS , THE SQUAD and other communists will be pulling the strings and THEY WILL BAN FRACKING.  The good news is his hiding in the basement isn't working for him.

and that's the truth OLDDOG

If you consume too much partisan spin, you soon can't think clearly.  Biden is not dotty and he's not a hard green.  He is a decent man and he is not the pawn of anyone.  He is a politician who seeks to mold the broadest support that gives him a chance to win an election.  They all do. 

He has made some concessions to environmental interests and that's a good move because a clear majority of Americans are concerned about climate warming and welcome a debate on how to proceed.  Biden will not ban fracking on private minerals and anyone who says otherwise is incapable of rational thought.  The quickest means to lose political power would be for Democrats to do anything that would spike the price of energy.  So fracking will continue.  Common sense regulations may place some restrictions on emissions but the O&G industry will keep their absolutely astonishing tax breaks and state incentives.  The industry will be powerless to fight the possibility of providing those same advantages to EVs and renewable energy technologies. 

Most Wall Street firms and individual investors will continue to shun O&G only because there is no prospect of a decent return on their investment.  They have become fed up with the inability of O&G companies to operate in a fashion that makes a sustainable profit.  It's the market that controls, not any President as our current one has ably demonstrated.....time and again.


I don't have to consume partisan spin to see that he's been nothing but a tick feeding off the American tax payer for 47 years.   To think he won't be controlled by the far left is foolish.  They may not outright ban fracking but they will make the permitting process extremely difficult and expensive such as Obama did - Barack Obama 2008 "If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant they can.  It's just that it will bankrupt them......Under may plan electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."    This is no longer Biden's party.  This is Bernie and AOC's party and they will eliminate fracking one way or the other.  

We'll see.  I've said my piece and don't feel the need to participate in partisan trolling.

Agree old dog. Who here believes that Biden if elected, will be anything more than a token very temporary placeholder.  It’s so obvious that he doesn’t have anywhere close, the capacity to lead this country.  He will be controlled from day one. I give him max of 2 years as the title holder (in name only).  Then he will step down citing medical problems and be praised as a hero for doing so for the best of the country. That will be his legacy and probably good enough for him. He finally made it all the way to the top.  I wouldn’t be surprised if that hasn’t already been worked out.  

So then what do we have —- K. H.  Can you then say that our new president isn’t hard green?  Do you consider her decent? Do you think she isn’t far left?

And that is the main point!!!  Even if Biden is being truthful about not banning fracking, (which I doubt), the rest of the Liberal Progressives, including his Vice-President will be beating down the doors to ban it!  They have made that abundantly clear.

Although I thought better of it, I thought I'd add my response.  I don't particularly care for either of the Presidential candidates.  I would appreciate it if either party in power can come up with a nationwide consistent energy policy.  I need neither windmill cancer or a fracking ban.  I will say that I have concerns over what either administration will do - Drilling in ANWR for instance, makes no sense when people are being laid off left and right in the lower 48.  Likewise, retroactive modification of all the federal leases to prevent hydraulic fracturing doesn't make sense either.  I highly doubt such a modification would be legal.  I could see a Biden BLM refusing to issue new federal leases, and thereby attempt to honor the "no new fracking" pledge.  I think on the oil and gas front, if Mrs. Harris took over, she would pretty quickly default to a protect jobs position, and therefore allow fracking.  

With the addition of California Senator Kamala Harris to the ticket with Joe Biden, the Democratic Party carved its anti-oil and gas credentials into stone for 2020 heading into its virtual national convention this week. Harris, a co-sponsor last year of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” has repeatedly bragged about her intention to ban hydraulic fracturing and enforce an array of draconian restrictions on the oil and gas industry should she and her running mate win the election in November.............

Greenland ice sheet reached tipping point 20 years ago, new study finds

by Grace Palmer, Earth Institute at Columbia University

At the turn of the 21st century, unbeknownst to the world, the Greenland ice sheet likely entered a state of sustained mass loss that will persist for the foreseeable future, according to a new study. Though the finding has raised concern over the future of the ice sheet, scientists emphasize that reducing emissions remains critical.

The study, which looked at 40 years of satellite data, was released on August 13 in Communications Earth & Environment. Second in size only to the Antarctic ice sheets, the Greenland ice sheet covers nearly 80 percent of the vast island. It contains the equivalent of about 24 feet of global mean sea level rise and, due to its accelerated retreat, is considered the largest single contributor to rising sea levels worldwide.

While the ice sheet's decline has been well-documented over the past two decades, this latest study, led by Michalea King of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, found that widespread glacier retreat helped push the ice sheet from a balanced to an imbalanced state. This work suggests that even if the oceans and atmosphere were to stop warming today, the ice sheet will continue to lose more ice than it will gain.

In the decades leading up to the turn of the century, the ice sheet was in a state of relative equilibrium. The ice lost in a given year would be replenished by wintertime snowfall, and the sheet maintained a near-constant mass. But beginning around the year 2000, ice discharged through outlet glaciers—channels that flow outward to the sea—started to outpace annual snowfall that, in a balanced year, would replenish lost ice. The authors sifted through 40 years of satellite data, tracking outlet glacier velocity, thickness, and calving front position over time to determine the rate of ice loss. The shift they found represents a tipping point that is unlikely to be reversible in the near future. King told GlacierHub, "It's like a gear change… we've accelerated the drainage at the edge of the ice sheet, and now… we expect mass loss to be the new norm for the ice sheet in the near future."

Ian Howat, director of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and co-author of the paper, explained to GlacierHub that the dynamics of ice loss through outlet glaciers can be likened to the functioning of a dam. "Those glaciers act just like a spillway on a dam," he said. "The more you open the spillway… the faster the reservoir gets drawn down." The study suggests that longer-term thinning throughout the 20th century—likely due to warming oceans—led up to a mass retreat event in the early 2000s. The result was a "step-increase" in the rate of discharge through outlet glaciers; before 2000, 420 gigatons of ice were discharged annually. In the years following, the rate increased to 480 gigatons of ice discharged annually. A gigaton is equal to one billion metric tons, roughly the mass of all land mammals (excluding humans) on Earth. "When all of these glaciers retreated at once, it was enough to significantly increase the rate at which ice flows into the ocean. It's like the spillway on the dam was opened up," Howat said.

According to King, the significance of this new rate of discharge is that "consistently, more ice is being lost through the flow of these glaciers than is being gained by snow accumulation." Returning to a balanced state would require an extra 60 gigatons per year of snowfall or reduced melting. Yet under essentially all climate change scenarios, the opposite is expected.

The findings of this study—along with others that document the decline of the Greenland ice sheet—spell worrying news for sea level rise trajectories. Marco Tedesco, research professor of marine geology and geophysics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, explained to GlacierHub that the Greenland ice sheet has been, and will increasingly be, a major contributor to rising sea levels. The two primary causes of sea level rise are thermal expansion—ocean water expands as it warms—and the melting of land-based ice. With sea level rise projected to submerge land home to 150 million people permanently below the high tide line (and that estimate assumes stability of the Antarctic ice sheet), Greenland finds itself in the spotlight. "In terms of direct contribution," Tedesco said, "Greenland is actually the largest contributor now, with about 20 to 25 percent of sea level rise due to Greenland." Moreover, the percentage of contribution could increase to 30 or 40 percent by the end of the century, according to Tedesco.

Another study on the Greenland ice sheet, coauthored by Tedesco, made international headlines recently, concluding that 2019 was a year of record ice loss. According to scientists, the ice lost in 2019 was double the yearly average since 2003. Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington's Polar Science Center, connected the dots between these two major studies. "Nobody really, 20 years ago, was expecting glaciers to speed up as rapidly as what we've seen," he told GlacierHub. In terms of annual loss of ice, "people think of it as melting, but it's basically the balance between how much snow falls each year, and how much icebergs calve off and how much melting actually occurs on the ice sheet itself." Ultimately, neither melting nor ice discharge alone can explain the changing ice sheet. They are, rather, two processes in a complex dynamic, which glaciologists are racing to understand using a combination of field work, remote sensing, and modeling.

Rapid international action is needed to limit global warming to 1.5˚C, which would allow more time for adaptation to rising sea levels. Addressing recent headlines declaring that the ice sheet has reached the point of no return, a statement that has since been discussed within the scientific community, Howat said, "I think it's very important to emphasize that this loss of the ice sheet is not irreversible. We've witnessed a step-change that is unlikely to be reversible in the near future, but we still have a long way to go and we still have a lot of say in how quickly the ice sheet will continue to retreat."


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Olddog you are exactly right.  His handlers will not even allow him to answer a  question.  How in the world would he be able to govern without answering questions.  If he got elected would he continue to reside in his basement?

Shalers, thanks for keeping this on topic. For off topic political posts - we still have this group -


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