As California’s attorney general, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., previously sued the Obama-Biden administration with a request to block further fracking in the state.
The lawsuit, filed in December of 2016, challenged an environmental assessment, which Harris said cleared the way for fracking and other activities off the coast of California.
In a press release, the now-vice presidential candidate described fracking as a potential threat to public health.
“The U.S. Department of Interior’s inadequate environmental assessment would open the door to practices like fracking that may pose a threat to the health and well-being of California communities. We must balance our energy needs with our longstanding commitment to protecting our natural resources and public health.”
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Harris’ office also pushed back on the idea that fracking posed little threat. “This assessment runs contrary to substantial evidence in the record identifying significant environmental effects from fracking, as well as numerous other unique risks posed by offshore fracking,” the release read.
The lawsuit came at a curious time — just as Obama was leaving office and Trump was about to be inaugurated. It also sheds light on Harris’ position regarding a critical issue before voters head to the polls Tuesday. For weeks, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has attempted to ward off claims it wanted to ban fracking, which has been credited with adding hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S.
In the primary season, Harris pledged to ban fracking while Biden indicated that he would try to block new public leases and ultimately eliminate the practice over time. That appeared to conflict with what Biden said last month in Pennsylvania. “I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me,” he said.
But Biden indicated he would, both during a 2019 Democratic primary debate and during the final presidential debate.
The former vice president was asked in 2019 whether there would be “any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?”
Biden’s response: “No, we would — we would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either — any fossil fuel.” At the final presidential debate, Biden also said he would “transition from the oil industry.”
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Biden has also endorsed the Green New Deal, a framework that calls, among other things, for dramatic reductions in carbon emissions by 2050. Republicans have leveraged this issue to argue that Biden would be pushed into more left-wing positions by people like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and his running mate, who has been rated the most liberal of U.S. senators.
Conservatives have criticized the Green New Deal, which Harris co-sponsored, arguing it would impose burdensome costs on U.S. families and businesses.
The Heritage Foundation attempted to use the Energy Information Administration’s National Energy Model to forecast the impact of steep carbon taxes aimed at reaching the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Not only did the model crash, it failed to approach anywhere near the goal outlined in the “Green New Deal.” The closest Heritage was able to get was a 58 percent reduction in emissions, achieved through a $300 carbon tax — taxes above $300 crashed the EIA’s model.
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However, Biden and other progressives maintain that the country faces catastrophic consequences if it doesn’t act to combat climate change. They’ve also forecasted massive economic benefits from the associated investments in infrastructure and other energy projects.
Biden’s website claims his investments would create “millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure” in addition to “1 million new jobs in the American auto industry.”