Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton chose a running mate this week that is sure to send Bernie Sanders’ environmentalist supporters into a frothing panic.
Clinton announced Friday that Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine will serve as the former secretary of state’s vice presidential running mate. The former governor of Virginia has served in the U.S Senate since 2012 – and during that time, he etched out favorable positions on natural gas, while also managing to keep environmentalists happy.
Those good feelings are likely to turn sour, however.
“We are not naive and know we still have a ton of work and convincing for both Clinton and Kaine on natural gas,” Jane Kleeb, founder of anti-fracking group Bold Alliance, told reporters. “That it’s not the bridge fuel everyone thought, that using eminent domain to build export pipelines has to end, and that if we are going to live up to our climate goals we can not keep building pipelines and digging up fossil fuels.”
Jason Kowalski, policy director of environmentalist group 350.org, meanwhile urged Clinton to shift toward the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party by picking an anti-oil, anti-natural gas running mate. Clinton will need to do some soul-searching and develop a more concrete position on fracking if she chooses Kaine, Kowalski added.
Perhaps stoking the embers slightly is the fossil fuel industry support of Kaine.
“We’re encouraged by the reasonable approach he’s taken on oil and natural gas, that he hasn’t been swayed by politics and ideology,” Miles Morin, executive director of the industry group Virginia Petroleum, told reporters in mid-July.
The former Virginia governor is not the only pro-natural gas politician Clinton has vetted. She also announced in early July that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and proponent hydraulic fracturing, was also on the list of possible running mates.
Hickenlooper, for his part, has been quite open about his support of natural gas development, even as Colorado’s environmentalists and anti-oil activists badger him about his energy positions, as well as his generally negative opinion of regulations hampering fracking.
Clinton’s view on natural gas has evolved over the years. She was mostly in favor of fracking in 2010, telling reporters at that time that “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.”
She has since changed her tune. The former secretary of state promised in 2015 she would begin phasing out fossil fuels development on public lands if elected president.
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