Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden insisted Monday that he would not ban fracking as president, seeking to reassure pivotal swing-state voters benefiting from the oil-and-gas boom fueled by hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania.
“I am not banning fracking,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”
President Trump has taken aim at Mr. Biden’s $2 trillion green-energy plan, telling voters that the former vice president was “no friend of Pennsylvania” at a campaign stop two weeks ago in Scranton, Mr. Biden’s hometown.
Despite his no-fracking-ban pledge, Mr. Biden has called for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050; a 100% carbon-free electrical grid by 2035, and no new oil-and-gas permitting on public lands, which would at minimum severely curtail the use of hydraulic fracturing.
Republicans swung back Monday by posting an Americans for Tax Reform video compilation showing Mr. Biden making comments like “I guarantee you, we’re going to end fossil fuels.”
Steve Milloy, a member of the Trump EPA transition team, said he was skeptical of Mr. Biden’s pledge, given that similar promises were made during the Obama presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
“We saw this in the Obama administration as well,” said Mr. Milloy. “Although [President] Obama said they would not ban coal plants, they did. Then Obama and Biden waged a war against coal using every tool of the federal government, which resulted in the destruction of 94% of the market value of the coal industry.”
During the U.S. energy boom, he said, “fracking has provided Americans with a higher standard of living, energy independence and energy dominance. Make no mistake — all of that is at risk in a Biden presidency.”
Mr. Biden came under pressure during the Democratic primary campaign from candidates on his left to disavow fracking, and declared at a March 15 debate, “No more — no new fracking.”
“No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore,” he said at the debate. “No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period.”
At his Monday appearance, Mr. Biden touted a “clean-energy strategy that has a place for the energy workers right here in western Pennsylvania.”
“We won’t just build things back the way they were before. We’re going to build them back better,” Mr. Biden said. “With good-paying jobs, building our nation’s roads, bridges, solar arrays, and windmills.”
In an Aug. 17 letter, the Biden camp asked television stations in Pennsylvania to stop running ads from a pro-Trump super PAC that accuse the Democrat of wanting to “eliminate fracking,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, said in his Aug. 20 remarks that the climate and energy recommendations of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force, headed by former Secretary of State John Kerry and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would “quickly outlaw American oil.”
“He’s going to outlaw American oil. Coal, American coal, he’s going to outlaw it. Natural gas, which is really an amazing form of energy, and clean, by mandating net-zero carbon emissions from all homes and buildings within nine years and from all power plants by 2035,” said Mr. Trump.