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Many 2020 Democrats Favor Banning Fracking, Fossil Fuel Exports. That’s Millions Of Jobs

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
  • Many Democrats running for president have come out against the oil and gas industry, despite concerns from labor unions.
  • At least 15 Democratic candidates favor banning fossil fuel extraction on public lands, while 10 favor banning fracking.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden is the only Democrat to take no position on any of the environmental policies The Washington Post asked candidates about.

Many Democrats running for president in 2020 are backing policies that would likely harm the oil and gas industry to fight global warming, despite pushback from organized labor.

At least 15 Democratic candidates favor either banning hydraulic fracturing, ending drilling on public lands or banning fossil fuel exports, according to The Washington Post.

The outlet asked every candidate their positions on a range of energy and environmental policies. Former Vice President Joe Biden was the only Democratic candidate to not respond to any of the Post’s environmental policy questions. (RELATED: Trump Could Slap India With Tariffs As He Wages War On ‘Unfair’ Trade, Experts Say)

Ten Democratic candidates told the Post they favored banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the drilling technique behind the U.S. energy boom that has helped support 10.3 million jobs, according to industry figures.

“I favor a ban on new fracking and a rapid end to existing fracking so that we can build a 100 percent clean energy society as soon as possible,” South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told the Post.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Cory Booker of New Jersey also support a fracking ban. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would also support a fracking ban.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg campaigns during a SEIU California Democratic Delegate Breakfast in San Francisco, California

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg campaigns during a SEIU California Democratic Delegate Breakfast in San Francisco, California, U.S. June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam.

Many 2020 Democrats have embraced the Green New Deal, which calls for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within 10 years. Inslee’s climate change agenda comes close to the Green New Deal, but he explicitly promised to create 8 million jobs.

“This year I signed legislation to ban fracking in Washington state, and as president, I would work to end fracking across the country,” Inslee told the Post.

Fracking, however, has been a powerful economic engine for much of the country, especially rural areas where not many other employment opportunities exist. U.S. oil and gas output hit record levels because of fracking, as have petroleum exports.

The oil and gas industry directly supports roughly 2.7 million jobs, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API). API estimates the industry also supports millions more indirect jobs in manufacturing, agriculture, mining, construction and other fields. Many of these jobs are a result of the fracking boom.

That’s a tough sell to the roughly 10.3 million workers whose jobs are in some way supported by oil and gas extraction, according to API estimates. Labor unions have already come out against the Green New Deal despite its promise for a “just transition” for fossil fuel workers to new industries.

Nine 2020 Democrats told the Post they would not ban fracking, but would support more regulations. Environmentalists oppose fracking because of its potential impacts on groundwater quality, though there’s little evidence that’s a big problem.

Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco

Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco, California, U.S. June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam.

Six 2020 Democrats supported a ban on fossil fuel exports, though five candidates came out against such a ban, the Post reported.

The U.S. is expected to become a net energy exporter in 2020 because of surging oil and gas production, according to federal forecasters.

Fifteen Democrats, however, favor banning fossil fuel extraction on federal lands. Only one candidate, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, ruled out banning drilling and mining on lands controlled by the federal government.

Warren introduced a plan to ban new coal, gas and oil leases on public lands. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke called for similar measures as part of his $5 trillion climate agenda.

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