Biden: Fracking ban? What fracking ban?

Alternate headline: Politician suddenly realizes importance of Pennsylvania to presidential ambitions. Or, maybe, an alternate alternate headline: Politician can’t remember what he promised to whom. YMMV, of course, but what can’t be denied is this whiplash-inducing reversal from Joe Biden on a key environmental issue. Speaking with a reporter for WNEP, a TV station in Pennsylvania, Biden insisted that “fracking is not going to be on the chopping block” if he gets elected.

Huh? That’s, er … new:

Next, we talked about jobs.

“We’re losing a lot of job overseas, losing jobs to COVID-19, and if fracking is on the chopping block, how are you going to help these displaced workers?

“Well, fracking is not going to be on the chopping block,” Biden said. “What we’re going to do three things. Number one, right now, the president gives advantage to companies that go overseas and invest overseas by reducing the taxes they have to pay on foreign profits. I’d double that tax and do that on day one.”

The full video can be seen at the WNEP link above, but its autostart makes it too problematic to include here. The relevant clip can be found here, however, long with one brief contrast clip from a debate in which Biden enthusiastically embraced a fracking ban:

Note that this is a continuing theme, or at least it was during the Democratic presidential primaries. It didn’t just come up the one time in the CNN debate, where Dana Bash pinned Biden down specifically on this part of his support for the Green New Deal initiative. Biden repeatedly insisted that he would stop all drilling for fossil fuels, even if it meant damaging the American economy. Americans for Tax Reform put this together two months ago, perhaps in anticipation of the eventual reversal:

This week, Biden and Bernie Sanders celebrated the fusion of their two agendas into a single platform. Both men supported a fracking ban during the campaign. Does it still exist? A look at Biden’s campaign website page on “climate change” doesn’t turn up a single mention of fracking. It does mention a moratorium on drilling, but only offshore in the Atlantic. However, it also mentions reductions on producing methane:

Pursue a global moratorium on offshore drilling in the Arctic and reestablish climate change as a priority for the Arctic Council. The Arctic poses profound national security challenges as its physical make-up changes due to extreme warming in the Arctic region. Yet, the Trump Administration has refused to allow the Arctic Council to even use the words “climate change.” Biden will elevate climate change to the top of the priority list for the Council, and focus on reducing two short-lived but highly potent pollutants, black carbon and methane. He will not only re-establish the U.S. commitment to remove Arctic waters from consideration for oil and gas leasing, he will also work with Arctic Council member nations to extend this moratorium globally. And, he will use the Arctic Council to put a spotlight on Russia’s activities in the Arctic, standing firm with council partners to hold Russia accountable for any efforts to further militarize the region.

Methane is natural gas, a clean-burning alternative to other fossil fuels and one of the two major products of fracking. Notably, the page never refers to “natural gas,” but instead has four references to it as methane. Later in the page, Biden also pledges to impose more restrictions on “more than 550 million acres of federal lands and waters” apart from the Arctic pledge.

This isn’t a memory lapse, in other words. It appears that Biden’s pledge to eliminate fracking — and indeed all drilling in the US — has been deliberately sent down the memory hole. What has replaced it is bad enough, but it’s clearly been watered down to help Biden bolster his argument that he’s some sort of moderate on climate change and energy production.

This leaves voters in a quandry. Will Biden’s new agenda be the one he pursues if elected? Or will a President Biden enact the radical agenda he embraced during the primaries? Will progressives gain control after his election and pursue it regardless of what Biden actually thinks? Conservative and moderate voters should be concerned about this, but one has to wonder whether the progressives might be wondering about it too — and what Sanders is thinking by endorsing it.

Better to be safe and just vote for Biden’s opponent. At least you know where Trump stands.

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