The Biden/Harris ticket has been the source of a great deal of confusion during this campaign related to the candidates’ stances on the subject of hydraulic fracturing. Senator Kamala Harris firmly stated several times in the past that she is absolutely in favor of banning fracking, but has been attempting to walk all of that back in recent weeks as the polls have tightened in oil and gas states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has been all over the place on this issue, promising repeatedly to ban fracking in whole or in part during the primary season, and more recently joining Harris’s efforts to modify that position in order to shore up his chances in those and other crucial swing states. Biden was asked the question again by an undecided voter during his CNN town hall appearance in Moosic, Pennsylvania this week, and again attempted to modify and clarify his position. Unfortunately, a reading of the transcript of that exchange doesn’t really clarify much at all.
Here is that transcript:
QUESTIONER: Good evening Mr. Vice President, Mr. Cooper. With the abundance of natural gas in northeast Pennsylvania. Do you support the continuation of fracking safely and with proper guidelines, of course, and growing the industry (garbled) additional jobs to our region?
BIDEN: Yes, I do. I do. In addition to that, we can provide for right now, as you know, for thousands of uncapped wells because a lot of companies gone out of business. Whether they’re gas or oil facilities, we can put to work right away 250,000 people from iron workers and other disciplines, making union wages. Capping those wells that are leaking methane and their danger to the community. And so, not only do I continue to support it.
Jobs… it’s an important for this community. It’s important for Pennsylvania, and Ohio and other states. It’s an important … it’s an important business. And it’s … a lot of wages are involved in that. But beyond that, beyond that, we can also get people working now, capping the wells that are left uncapped right now across this region and all the way … there’s hundreds of thousands of them all across the nation. And that put a lot of people to work.
CNN HOST ANDERSON COOPER: Let me just follow up on that. You said you won’t ban fracking but did you wanted to gradually move away from it, ultimately. It sounds like to some that you’re trying to have it both ways that, that I mean, politically, it’s understandable why you might say that, but it — if fracking contributes to climate change, and climate change is an existential threat, why should it, fracking, continue at all?
BIDEN: Well, fracking has to continue because we have transition, we’re going to get to net zero emissions by 2050. And we’ll get to net zero power admissions by 2035. But there’s no rationale to eliminate right now fracking, number one. Number two, those jobs that are out there, whether it’s a IBW worker, or whether it’s an iron worker, or a steel worker.
What I’m proposing is that, you know, when Trump thinks about global warming, he thinks hoax. When I hear global warming, I think jobs. What I’m going to make sure we do is we could transition in a way for example. We’re going to build 500 — the reason why all these unions have endorsed me is that they know my position, that I’m going to make sure that we have 500,000 charging stations in our highways so we can all the electric car market, creating a million jobs and we can lead the world.
And in Detroit, we can lead the world and making sure we move to electric vehicles. As president of United States, I’ll have one of the largest fleets — we spent $600 billion a year federal money for federal contracts, I got to make sure they’re all those contracts are all products made in America, including the chain that provides for every one of those products.
I’m going to do away with the tax break that the President gave people who send jobs abroad, to make sure that if you in fact, have a contract, if you with taxpayers my money, you must use American products, you must buy American products, and you must not be in a position where you’re exporting. We have 25 — we have over 50% more people moving jobs overseas as a consequence of these contracts, so it’s all backwards. And this is going to provide a lot of good paying jobs for people in the trades.
I’m honestly not sure what any of that means, and it is doubtful that voters in oil and gas producing swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Mexico and Colorado are, either. Thus, the hundreds of thousands of individuals in those and other states whose jobs rely on fracking remaining legal will go to the polls in the coming weeks not really knowing where the Democratic ticket truly stands on the matter.