Joe Biden's flip-flops on fracking, natural gas issues leave experts concerned of economic impact if he's elected
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Former Vice President Joe Biden has changed his stance on natural gas issues numerous times, leaving experts to wonder how a Biden presidency would impact the economy.
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Biden's proposed plan calls for banning subsidies in the fossil fuel industry and for banning new fracking on federal land. According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), natural gas and oil produced from federal areas, onshore and offshore, account for 14% of U.S. natural gas production and nearly a quarter of U.S. oil production.
More than 95% of U.S. natural gas and oil wells today are developed using fracking. In fiscal year 2019, oil production from federal areas topped a record of 1 billion barrels. Further analysis from the API estimates that the impact of a fracking ban would result in a total of 417,000 fewer jobs by 2030, and a $700 billion dollar hit to U.S. gross domestic product.
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This has become a critical issue for voters ahead of next week’s election. But, throughout the past several months, Biden’s stance on fracking and natural gas issues has flip-flopped.
During CNN’s Democratic Presidential Primary Debate on March 15, Biden said, “No more, no new fracking.”
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He held this stance again in May when he said, “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, excuse me, and coal.”
Then his stance changed in August when he said at the time, “I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”
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During the final presidential debate on Oct. 23, Biden stated, “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.”
James Taylor, president of the Heartland Institute, one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks specializing in environment and climate news, noted that pledging to reach “zero emissions by 2025” essentially eliminates coal, oil and natural gas.
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“‘Transitioning’ away from oil is just another politician’s word for banning oil, and coal, and natural gas,” Taylor said. “Banning oil means an end to fracking. One doesn’t frack for wind or solar power.”
He said Biden pledging to eliminate oil production, while claiming he is not banning fracking, is “like saying he is eliminating meat and vegetables but not banning barbecues.”
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However, Kevin Walling, a Democratic campaign adviser with close ties to the Biden campaign, said this transition has many positives. It would make the U.S. less dependent on other nations when it comes to energy and resources.
“Every plan the former vice president and Sen. Harris have spoken about involves a gradual transition towards greater energy independence and a greater reliance on renewable sources of energy,” Walling said. “Pennsylvania and Texas, among other states, can be leaders in that field with the energy infrastructure already in place.”
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With regard to the economy, Walling said the Biden team has discussed the need to provide jobs and an economy “based on where the world is headed, not where it has been.”
According to Walling, the U.S. is falling behind other industrialized nations when it comes to renewable energy production, and there should be more of an emphasis on training for the jobs of the future in terms of solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources.
But, this leaves key battleground — and oil-producing — states apprehensive.
Following Biden’s comments about fracking during the final presidential debate, President Trump said, “Basically what he is saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that, Texas? Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?”
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Charles Hernick, VP of policy and advocacy of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), acknowledged that while it is impossible to say what the net effect of Biden’s green plans will be, the petroleum industry has every right to be concerned.
“Even President Obama understood the domestic job benefits and national security benefits of responsible oil and natural gas development,” Hernick said. “What Biden has said, put out in writing, and what his running mate has promised, would put the US economy in uncertain territory while directly transferring power to petro-states like Russia and U.S. adversaries in the middle east.”
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Hernick added, “The oil and gas sector, that has created jobs and strengthened our standing internationally, should be worried.”
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