This news actually came out last week, but with the Iowa caucuses happening today it seems an appropriate time to bring it up. Last Thursday, Bernie Sanders introduced a new bill in the Senate with the stated purpose of banning hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for oil and natural gas all across the United States. He’s already promised to take action along these lines, as have Elizabeth Warren and some of the other Democratic presidential hopefuls. Sanders attracted several co-sponsors for the bill, including at least two members of “the squad.” While it’s obviously not going to go anywhere this year, it’s a not terribly subtle effort to stake out his position on “keep it in the ground” as he fights for the nomination. (The Hill)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this week introduced a bill that aims to ban hydraulic fracking.
The bill was introduced on Tuesday and is titled “a bill to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes,” according to the Library of Congress, though the text of the legislation was not available on the site.
Sanders has called for a ban on fracking while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, as has Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
As of this morning, the full text of the bill still hasn’t been posted, but the title alone likely tells us all we need to know. As I suggested above, however, it likely doesn’t matter because any legislation like this is dead on arrival in the Senate while the GOP holds the majority. And even if he did manage to get it passed, President Trump would veto it so fast it would make your head spin.
But Bernie Sanders and his “keep it in the ground” friends are severely miscalculating the political fallout from their actions. While they try to impress the furthest left portion of the Democratic base, they are being shortsighted in terms of the potential consequences this will have in the general election.
If Sanders wants to remove Donald Trump from office in November, he’s going to need to flip a number of states that Trump carried. And do you know where fracking is very popular? In Pennsylvania. Fracking has brought a flood of new jobs to the state and to this day there are still more openings than they can find people to fill them. Recruiters are trying to attract more people to the Keystone State with jobs that start at anywhere from $50K to more than $100K per year. And a lot of them don’t even require a college degree.
Additionally, landowners with property sitting on the Marcellus shale deposits have been able to sign leases with the oil and gas industry bringing them much needed income. All of that adds up to a net positive for Pennsylvania residents. If you promise to eliminate all of that activity as president, it’s a safe bet that voters will turn out in support of Donald Trump once again in November.
To a lesser extent, there is also fracking in Ohio, primarily in the eastern part of the state. The same situation exists there in terms of jobs and leasing opportunities.
If you start your presidential run with a move that will likely cost you Pennsylvania and Ohio, the path to victory suddenly narrows drastically. And not for nothing, but if you had any dreams about turning Texas blue, the quickest way to burst that balloon is to come after the oil and gas industry. A Bernie Sanders candidacy will almost certainly keep the Lone Star State firmly in the red column and very likely push the state legislature back toward the GOP even further.
But hey, Bernie. I’m not here to rain on your parade. If that’s your plan, you go with it, buddy. I’ll be back here on the east coast munching on popcorn and watching the show.