Republicans weaponize Biden comments on fracking

Source: By Timothy Cama, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, March 16, 2020

House Republicans’ campaign arm is using Joe Biden’s walked-back statement that he would ban fracking to hit vulnerable Democrats.

The National Republican Congressional Committee released statements today slamming a handful of Democrats who have endorsed Biden for president and represent areas dependent on oil and natural gas drilling.

The lawmakers are Reps. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, Colin Allred of Texas, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania.

“Conor Lamb’s support for Joe Biden is a direct threat to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania jobs and shows he lacks the judgement to represent PA-17 in Congress,” NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams said in a brief statement, similar to the organization’s statements about other lawmakers.

Under pressure from opponent Bernie Sanders during a debate, Biden said yesterday that under his presidency, there would be “no new fracking” and “no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period” (E&E Daily, March 16).

Biden’s campaign staff later walked back the remarks, saying the former vice president was referring only to his previously stated position that he would ban all new fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and offshore. Sanders, by contrast, has promised to ban fracking everywhere.

Immediately after Biden’s statements, Republicans and the oil industry began to highlight them, saying the former vice president’s positions threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs and would put the economy at risk, among other impacts.

The Trump reelection campaign sent out an email saying Biden had betrayed oil and gas workers.

“There’s nothing moderate about Joe Biden, and moderate Democrats hoping to avoid a crushing defeat in November will be better off accepting that fact sooner than later,” said Andrew Clark, spokesman for the Trump campaign.