Newly released emails show Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attempted to bring fracking — something she opposes — to other countries while working in the Obama administration.
The Intercept published emails showing how Department of State officials worked closely with private sector oil and gas companies to lobby the White House to commit resources to promoting fracking. Former Secretary of State Clinton’s State Department secured technical assistance with the geologic science of finding shale reserves and helping partner nations find investment for new fracking projects. It helped advise world leaders on the benefits of fracking, connected them with American energy experts, and organized visits to drilling sites in America to make it a role model for fracking around the world.
These emails suggest Clinton made promoting fracking for natural gas abroad a major priority during her tenure, once stating “the United States will promote the use of shale gas.” Fast forward to the 2016 presidential election and she’s totally flip-flopped on the issue, promising to virtually ban fracking if elected president.
“Hillary is now anti-fracking partially due to political motives which are totally contradictory. The presence of Bernie Sanders and the increase in zealotry among far-left Democrats has made fracking a core issue,” Kathleen White, senior fellow at the Texas Policy Foundation and co-author of a new book on energy policy, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Sanders has pulled Hillary to a much more extreme point of view on fracking. It isn’t unusual for politicians to adjust what they say on the basis of who is listening, but this is taking that to the next level.”
“Now, I know that in some places it’s controversial,” Clinton said in 2010. “But natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel available for power generation today, and a number of countries in the Americas may have shale gas resources. If developed, shale gas could make an important contribution to our region’s energy supply, just as it does now for the United States.”
The State Department hosted several conferences on fracking in other countries during Clinton’s tenure, and sent U.S. experts to help foreign officials develop fracking programs. State’s fracking program continued under Secretary of State John Kerry, and is known as the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program.
In 2012, Clinton instructed all U.S. embassies to “pursue more outreach to private sector energy partners.” Many of these partners provided financial support to her political campaigns. Clinton’s campaign even hired a former TransCanada lobbyist, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, as a consultant.
Clinton’s emails reveal she influenced energy policy in Mexico as secretary of state, and pushed for fracking before she resigned in 2013. A redacted email reveals Clinton hired David Goldwyn as “State Department International Energy Coordinator/Diplomat-At-Large.” Goldwyn eventually became the head of the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, where he helped Clinton “sell fracking to the world” specifically citing the enormous environmental benefits.
“Under the Obama administration, energy policy has been absolutely incoherent,” White said. “If elected President, Hillary would likely be forced to continue Obama’s energy policies for purely political reasons, even if she is secretly supportive of fracking. It would be hard for her not to given the role Sanders far more extreme policies have played in the campaign.”
“If your sole purpose is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, natural gas is a good way to go,” White said. “The emissions associated with natural gas production have never been high and they burn cleanly. There was a period where politicians who didn’t want to completely alienate energy companies embraced natural gas. That didn’t last too long among the extreme.”
Natural gas emits about half the CO2 of coal power and is already cheaper than coal in many locations due to fracking. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates roughly 68 percent of the falling carbon dioxide emissions are due to the switch from coal to natural gas.
In America, Fracking cut more CO2 emissions than solar or wind power, according to a study published last November by the Manhattan Institute. The study shows solar power is responsible for a mere 1 percent of the decline in American CO2 emissions, while natural gas is responsible for nearly 20 percent. For every ton of CO2 cut by solar power, fracking has cut 13 tons.
Much of the fracking proposed by the State Department would have been done on public lands in other countries, but Clinton now supports phasing out fracking on public lands in America.
Other countries interested in fracking for oil and natural gas received considerable support from Clinton’s State Department during her tenure. South Africa lifted its moratorium on fracking in 2012 after the State Department encouraged the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Geological Survey to help solve technical and financial problems with drilling in the country.
Clinton heavily supported the Export-Import Bank of the United States. During her tenure, the bank spent $3 billion in 2009 for hundreds of miles of natural gas pipeline in other countries while financing other huge fracking projects over the last several years in South Africa and Poland.
The bank also spent billions financing Liquid Natural Gas facilities and other conventional energy sources over the objections of environmental groups. When asked if she would revive the bank in October, Hillary Clinton said it was a “no-brainer.”
The energy and natural resource industry contributed $1,784,943 to Clinton or PACs that supported her, according to Federal Election Commission data aggregated by The Center For Responsive Politics.
The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but during the April 15 Democratic debate in New York, Clinton insisted there was no inconsistency between her positions on fracking.
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