Fracking battle escalates between Biden, Trump

Source: By Lesley Clark, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is asking Pennsylvania TV stations to stop airing a pro-Trump ad that it says spreads inaccuracies about the Democratic presidential nominee’s position on hydraulic fracturing.

The Monday letter came as energy — and, in particular, fracking — plays an increasingly central role in the presidential campaign.

The request from the campaign’s deputy general counsel maintains that two ads placed by America First Action, a pro-Trump super political action committee, repeat “debunked claims” that Biden plans to eliminate fracking and that a fracking ban — which the campaign says Biden does not support — would “kill up to 600,000 jobs.”

The letter, which was obtained by E&E News and first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, notes Biden supports “banning only new oil and gas permits, fracking included, on federal land.”

It cites fact-checkers that have called the ads “misleading” and “partly false” and noted that Facebook, “which has an unusually permissive stance on false advertising,” has refused to run ads making the same claims.

“It is notable, too, that the news programs shown to your viewers have debunked these claims,” wrote M. Patrick Moore, the Biden campaign’s deputy general counsel. “Yet, you continue to accept advertising dollars to allow AFA to spread them further. This incongruence is a disservice to your viewers and a misleading business practice.”

America First Action did not respond to a request for comment.

Biden has said he would end new fracking on public lands but has stopped short of calling for a total ban.

The federal government controls about 640 million acres, most of it concentrated in 12 Western states, including oil producers like New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

The shale drilling boom, though, has taken place largely on private land in places like Pennsylvania and Texas.

Biden yesterday picked up an endorsement from the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry, with the union that represents energy industry workers saying Biden’s “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy was a key factor in its decision to endorse him (Greenwire, Aug. 18).

But the American Petroleum Institute sought yesterday to point out divisions among Democrats, noting that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention tonight, has touted a recent oil and gas boom in her state.

Last November, Lujan Grisham told Reuters that with most of the Democratic presidential contenders opposed to expanded drilling, she would request a waiver from the new Democratic president “to allow us to continue to produce in New Mexico” if Trump lost the election.

Trump tweets on Calif. grid, Green New Deal

Trump’s campaign yesterday hailed the endorsement of the conservative American Energy Alliance, which cited Trump’s regulatory rollbacks and embrace of fossil fuels.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, greatly enhancing our energy security in the process,” said AEA President Thomas Pyle, who led Trump’s transition team at the Department of Energy.

The president has sought to make his “energy dominance” agenda a key issue in the campaign in recent days, spending part of a campaign effort Monday criticizing Biden’s energy policy, charging that the Democratic ticket would eliminate fracking. Trump plans to campaign in swing state Pennsylvania tomorrow as Biden gives his nomination acceptance speech.

Trump yesterday also seized on the threat of rolling blackouts in California to bash Biden, whose energy plan calls for removing fossil fuels from the nation’s electricity supply by 2035.

In a pair of tweets, Trump said Democrats have been unable to keep up with the energy demand while he “gave” the country “so much energy we could never use it all.” And he charged the “Bernie/Biden/AOC Green New Deal would take California’s failed policies to every American.” Biden has unveiled his own energy plan and did not endorse the sweeping Green New Deal proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

California observers have pointed to extreme heat in the state pushing power supplies to the brink and cited renewable power, climate change and inadequate planning as factors in the shortage (Energywire, Aug. 18).