Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said in paid speeches to Wall Street bankers that hydraulic fracturing was a “gift” the U.S. should exploit to achieve energy independence.
“I mean, the energy revolution in the United States is just a gift, and we’re able to exploit it and use it and it’s going to make us independent,” Clinton said at the “IBD CEO Annual Conference” summit hosted by Goldman Sachs in June 2013.
“We can have a North American energy system that will be unbelievably powerful. If we have enough of it we can be exporting and supporting a lot of our friends and allies,” she said, according to a transcript of the event released by WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks released emails hacked from the Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, which included transcripts of paid speeches to bankers, unions and other groups the campaign refused to release. Clinton was paid $675,000 for three speeches she gave at events hosted by Goldman Sachs in 2013.
Democratic primary challenger Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized Clinton for not releasing her paid speeches to the financial industry. The implication was Clinton told bankers one thing, while telling the public another on her policy positions.
In two of those speeches, Clinton talked about the benefits of the U.S. being energy independent largely due to the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, into shale formations for previously unreachable oil and natural gas.
“I think it’s mostly a positive that we are more energy sufficient,” Clinton said in an October 2013 talk paid for by Goldman Sachs.
“Obviously it’s imperative that we exploit the oil and gas in the most environmentally careful way because we don’t want to — we don’t want to cause problems that we also will have to deal with taking advantage of what is a quite good windfall for us in many other respects,” she said.
“We were never dependent upon Iranian oil, but the fact that we are now moving toward and not only energy independence but potentially using that energy to bring more manufacturing back to the United States as well as possibly creating an export market from the United States, it just changes the whole equation,” she said. “It puts a lot of pressure on China, in particular, to continue to exploit as many energy sources. And I would argue that even though we are not worried about getting as much energy from the Middle East as perhaps we were in the past that the United States still has to keep those ceilings open.”
Clinton’s fracking remarks in paid speeches to Wall Street bankers stands in stark contrast to her public stance on the issue. Clinton previously said she’d restrict fracking operations.
“By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” Clinton said during the Democratic presidential debate in Flint, Mich. in March.
“I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, No. 1. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it–No. 3–unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using,” she said in the debate.
But not long before the debate, Clinton campaign staffers were saying Sanders’ call for a nationwide fracking ban “irresponsible.” The campaign even wanted to encourage environmental groups to go after Sanders for “yet another promise he can’t keep.
“I would prefer an ally (congressman polis and/or LCV) Who have strong bone fides on the environment to whack sander’s for taking an irresponsible position and in doing so, threatening real progress on frack fluid disclosure and air quality regulations,” Bradley Komar, Clinton’s Colorado campaign lead, wrote to campaign staffers in a February 2016 email.
“I would watch our tone and not sound too pro-fracking,” Komar said. “A reluctant tone is a better fit for dem caucus goers (it’s a transition energy. It’s not great but it allows us to get to where we want to be).”
In September 2015, Clinton told building trade union members that the environmentalists who wanted to ban fracking should “get a life” — her campaign worried about support from unions for months since Clinton decided to come out against the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
“I want to defend natural gas,” Clinton said, according a transcript of her private meeting unions released by WikiLeaks.
“I want to defend repairing and building the pipelines we need to fuel our economy. I want to defend fracking under the right circumstances,” she said. “I want to defend this stuff.”
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