Political scientist says Hillary Clinton tacking left on fracking, climate in response to Bernie Sanders persistence in primaries race
Hillary Clinton anti-fracking comments during Sunday’s Democratic Party debate against Bernie Sanders will soon be forgotten once primary season comes to an end, says University of Houston political scientist Jim Granato.
Clinton has been taking some fire from oil and gas industry supporters dismayed by her seeming migration toward the Vermont Senator’s position, which he described succinctly as, “No, I do not support fracking,”
Clinton said she wouldn’t support fracking in states or local communities that don’t want it, if it causes pollution, or if the chemicals used aren’t disclosed.
“By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” Clinton said.
Granato says Clinton’s fracking comments are an attempt to “finish off” the stubbornly persistent Saunders, who refuses to concede defeat. After Tuesday’s results in Michigan and Mississippi, Clinton has accumulated 1,214 delegates and Sanders 566, including superdelegates – members of Congress, governors and party officials who can support the candidate of their choice at the convention. Democrats need 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.
“He’s hanging in there, so she’s trying to move to the left, but typically what will happen after the primary season is over is that you move more to the center,” Granato said in an interview.
“She’ll have an alternative to the GOP candidate, who will be much more pro-fracking, but she will basically follow what the Obama Administration is doing.”
Last month Clinton issued a factsheet on natural gas production that was generally positive about fracking, stating that domestically produced “natural gas can play an important role in the transition to a clean energy economy, creating good paying jobs and careers, lowering energy costs for American families and businesses, and reducing air pollution that disproportionately impacts low income communities and communities of color.”
About half of America’s oil and gas is producing using the controversial hydraulic fracturing, which critics claim poisons water supplies and causes earthquakes. The Environmental Protection Agency released a comprehensive report last year that found no “widespread systemic” contamination of the nation’s drinking water by fracking. And state regulators are taking steps to limit wastewater disposal when it is demonstrated that injection wells cause induced seismicity.
Environmental groups have been dogging Clinton’s campaign, asking gotcha-style questions about fracking and other oil and gas issues, then posting videos to social media sites in an effort to pressure the former Secretary of State.
“This is our moment, when we are much stronger than the fossil-fuel industry,” said Jason Kowalski, a spokesman for 350 Action, which has coordinated much of the gotcha-style environmental campaign, as reported by Bloomberg. “Once these decisions go beyond closed doors, the lawyers and the lobbyists of the oil industry will outpower us.”
But eco-activists really have little influence on the Clinton team’s strategy, which will be focused on Sanders until the end of the primary season in mid-June, says Granato.
“She’s reacting more to him than climate activists,” said Granato. “She just wants to finish this primary season and get on with the nomination.”
News that Hillary Clinton will follow President Barack Obama’s oil and gas policies if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination and is elected in Nov. won’t exactly be greeted with enthusiasm by many in the energy industry, but critics can take some solace that it could be worse.
Bernie Sanders worse.