- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2020

Support for a fracking ban declined significantly among Democrats after the first presidential debate, prompting foes of hydraulic fracturing to urge Joseph R. Biden to stop talking about the issue.

A Data for Progress survey released Wednesday showed that Democratic support for banning fracking fell from 65% to 49% in polls taken shortly before and after the Sept. 29 debate, as the former vice president continues to counter President Trump’s insistence that he would prohibit the oil-and-gas extraction process.

“Earth to Biden: Stop Talking About Fracking,” said the headline on the Data for Progress analysis in The Nation, a leftist publication.

Julian Brave NoiseCatis, Data for Progress vice president of policy and strategy, and Data for Progress climate analyst Danielle Deiseroth said that Democratic voters appeared to be swayed by Mr. Biden.

“As Trump and Pence tried to associate Biden and Harris with a fracking ban — a policy Republicans believe could prevent Democrats from winning Pennsylvania — the Democratic nominees quickly and emphatically clarified that was not their platform,” said the op-ed. “Across the country, their voters heard them loud and clear. Democrats nationwide are now less likely to express support for a fracking ban than they were in September.”

They said the Democratic ticket should have touted its clean-energy plan, saying that “with the data at our fingertips, we wonder if the time Biden and Harris spent rebutting Trump and Republicans’ smears could have been better spent going on the offense instead.”

Some commentators on Twitter also blamed Mr. Biden for the drop, with one saying, “I hate his ‘no fracking ban’ stance. I hate that it’s causing people to turn against a fracking ban.”

Steve Milloy, founder of the skeptical JunkScience website and a former member of the Trump EPA transition team, said that “now the radicals even want Biden to stop talking about fracking in fear of losing more support for a ban.”

The Data for Progress analysis said that only Congress, not the president, could ban fracking, which has driven the U.S. shale boom, while Mr. Milloy said the executive branch has other industry-snuffing methods at its disposal.

“While a President Biden couldn’t ban fracking, he could kill fracking the same way Obama-Biden killed the coal industry — by bringing the weight of the entire federal government down on the industry to destroy it financially,” Mr. Milloy said. “Voters deserve to know whether a President Biden would wreck our economy with reckless action against fracking.”

Mr. Biden has said he would ban fracking on federal lands, as the Obama administration did, and touted his $2 trillion clean-energy plan, which calls for net-zero emissions in electricity generation by 2035, and across by the board by 2050, thereby drastically reducing U.S. demand for oil and natural gas.

Mr. Biden blasted fossil fuels during the Democratic primary campaign, saying at the March 15 debate, “No more, no new fracking,” and at a September 2019 appearance, “I guarantee you, we are going to end fossil fuel.”

The poll surveyed more than 1,000 likely voters from Sept. 25-27 and then from Oct. 9-11.

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