It seems exceedingly difficult to get a straight answer from the Biden–Harris ticket on many issues. When asked whether or not they would support court-packing, ending the filibuster, or adding new states to the Union, the Democratic ticket is as quiet as a mouse.
Yet when asked if they would ban fracking, Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris would like to have it both ways.
Before winning the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden went on record, on several occasions, saying that he would end the practice of hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking.
For instance, when asked by a New Hampshire resident in January 2020, “But like, what about, say, stopping fracking?” Biden replied, “Yes.” When the resident followed up with, “And stopping pipeline infrastructure?” Biden assured her, “Yes.”
Biden’s stance on fracking has evolved, in the words of President Obama.
In a March debate, he said, “no new fracking.” Last September, he said he would “end fossil fuel.” And in July of 2019, when asked about fracking, Biden said he would “make sure it’s eliminated.”
If you think Biden’s tortured relationship with the truth regarding his position on fracking is bad, his running mate has done even more fracking flip-flopping.
For years, Kamala Harris has been an outspoken anti-fracker. In a September 2019 town hall, she said, “There’s no question I’m in favor of banning fracking.” She has made similar statements many times.
And as attorney general of California, Harris repeatedly battled fossil fuel companies. As Bloomberg reported in August,
As California attorney general, Harris filed lawsuits against Phillips 66, ConocoPhillips and other oil companies for alleged environmental violations.… Harris also has a history of tangling with oil refiners that have operations in California — a pugilistic approach that could add heft to Biden’s threat to target fossil fuel executives and “put them in jail.” For instance, Harris opposed Chevron Corp.’s planned expansion of a refinery in Richmond on grounds it risked accidents and would exacerbate climate change. And Harris criticized a bid by Valero Energy Corp. to receive rail shipments of crude at its Benecia refinery, emphasizing the risk for spills and explosions along an expected Northern California route.
As if her long-time antipathy toward fracking and her record as attorney general were not enough to cause Americans to question whether or not Harris is the world’s greatest enemy of fracking, how about the fact that she co-sponsored the Green New Deal, which would eviscerate fracking the second it became law? According to Harris,
Climate change is an existential threat — it’s critical we act now to achieve a cleaner, safer, and healthier future. But it is not enough to simply cut emissions and end our reliance on fossil fuels.… We need a Green New Deal based in climate and environmental justice, which means building a clean economy that protects communities that have been neglected by policymakers for far too long. I’m proud to work with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez on this comprehensive proposal, and I’m hopeful that it brings a Green New Deal closer to reality.
When pressed during the first presidential debate, Joe Biden said he would not ban fracking. In the vice presidential debate, Harris uttered the same line.
But immediately after Harris made this statement, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted, “Fracking is bad, actually.”
And let’s not forget that Ocasio-Cortez introduced a bill titled the Fracking Ban Act just last year. As AOC tweeted shortly after the bill was written,
Fracking is destroying our land and our water. It is wreaking havoc on our communities’ health. We must do our job to protect our future from the harms caused by the fracking industry. That is why I am proud to introduce the Fracking Ban Act with @RepDarrenSoto today.
Although Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have changed their tune when it comes to fracking now that they are in the midst of the general election, it stands to reason that they will return to their anti-fracking position should they win the upcoming election.
If you think politicians are unwilling to reverse course after repeated campaign promises, does George H. W. Bush’s “Read my lips, no new taxes” ring a bell?
Chris Talgo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an editor at the Heartland Institute.