Confusion reigns over the Sunday night Democratic presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders and whether Biden came out of the closet in support of banning fracking.
At first it sounded as though he had joined Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren who had earlier called for a total fracking ban in the U.S.
Joe Biden said he would allow “no new fracking” during Sunday night’s Democratic debate after intense questioning from rival Bernie Sanders on whether Biden is serious about combating climate change.
“I’m talking about stopping fracking as soon as we possibly can” and “telling the fossil fuel industry they’re going to stop destroying the planet,” the Vermont senator said, questioning Biden’s climate platform.
“Your heart is in the right place,” he told Biden, but it “doesn’t take on the fossil fuel industry.”
“It is insane we continue to have fracking in America,” Sanders said.
In response, Biden muttered, “No new fracking,” without additional context.
While it was initially unclear if the one-line statement represented an intentional policy shift, the Biden campaign told reporters after the debate that he was restating his existing policy pledge to block new oil and gas drilling on public lands according to the Washington Examiner.
Biden’s campaign said after the debate that he was simply re-stating his existing platform about policy on federal lands, not endorsing Sanders’ call for a nationwide ban.
Sanders has repeatedly called for a ban on fracking for oil and natural gas, a position that could trouble him in the important swing state of Pennsylvania in the general election.
Biden’s official climate plan posted on his website does not commit to a fracking ban and allows for the potential of using fossil fuels in the near term while pledging that the United States will reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Only 21% of oil in 2018 was produced on federal land, including offshore, according to the Energy Information Administration. A smaller amount of natural gas, 13%, was produced on federal land, the EIA says.
An all-out fracking ban, as envisioned by Sanders, would also apply to private land, where most fracking takes place.
Source: Washington Examiner