Biden Wrong about Fracking

His unqualified support of it is troubling, but NOT as dangerous as a second Trump term

PITTSBURGH, Pa.  — Speaking here Monday in a campaign appearance, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “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.”

That’s too bad. Fracking is bad for all forms of life. It is not clean energy. And, it is done great harm to the people of Southwest Pennsylvania, Northern West Virginia, Eastern Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado and many places around the globe. The related pipeline development has destroyed homesteads and unrecoverable natural treasures. Ironically, while the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) still threatens lives and land, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) was abandoned, but not before laying waste to generational homesteads, pristine forests and watersheds while wasting billions of dollars.

Unfortunately, Biden said what he did for political expediency. That in itself is troubling. However, he knows that Trump’s unqualified support for the fossil fuel mono-economy means votes in Pittsburgh, where MVP’s builder, EQT, is located. Despite the fact that fracking creates very few permanent jobs, let alone safe ones, as is all too common, the local electorate can’t look beyond the short term. The jobs will leave in due course, and as is customary, be replaced with cancer, lung afflictions, cardiovascular disease and bulldozed homes, hills and hollows.

I get politics. Still, to hear Joe Biden champion fracking caused me to cringe. Why? I have reported from the fracking fields of Northern West Virginia. I have seen the damage done. Early on in my reporting, I was quickly able to identify “A Dirty Dozen Reasons to Oppose Fracking.” Dead and injured workers (here and here), explosions on fracking pads (here), dead and injured motorists (here and here), destroyed wells and streams (here), dead livestock (here) and sickened residents (here) are just some of the public health and safety risks associated with fracking. Indeed, the list is rather long. The negative by-products of fracking include:

  1. Public Health Issues
  2. Water Use and Contamination
  3. Radioactivity
  4. Air Pollution
  5. Waste Disposal
  6. Site Development and Well Pad Activity
  7. Misuse of Eminent Domain
  8. Climate Change
  9. Traffic Congestion
  10. Potential Earthquakes
  11. Industry Instability

We have to educate Vice President Biden about fracking. His unqualified support of it is wrong, but no matter how much it bothers me, it is not worth a second term for Donald Trump.

Bident’s remarks were made in the heart of fracking county and undoubtedly upset many of the people I’ve reported on, but taken in the larger context of the purpose of the speech — that Donald Trump is the reason our nation is in upheaval, not the cure, it took me mere seconds to put the issues in perspective.

Fracking is an issue that can be revisited after Nov. 3. All of those working to end fracking know Donald Trump is not an ally. And, despite his pledge in Pittsburgh, Biden’s time in Washington suggests that he will uphold the Rule of Law and would not direct federal agencies regulating fracking, interstate pipelines, public health, environmental permitting and protecting our public lands to put politics ahead of their missions as Trump has done. If he does, there will be a reckoning from the Left in 2022 should he defeat Trump.

Justin McClain (L) listens as his father, Robert talks about the death and destruction faced by his family on their Doddridge County, W.Va. farm from fracking and pipeline construction in this 2015 file photo. Photo by Michael M. Barrick

This is the agony we face during every national election. We are a very large nation with countless constituencies and just as many challenges. Hence, agreement on every issue is simply not realistic. Fracking simply is not the most urgent issue facing America now. The American Republic has been subverted by Donald Trump.The nation is on fire. Literally. Trump throws gasoline on them, then shows up with the fire trucks claiming credit for putting them out. 

Biden is a moderate. His position on fracking is not surprising. Yet, I believe he wants to do what is right. So there is at least some hope that he can be convinced to change his mind after Nov. 3. Trump is a megalomaniac; obsessed with his own power, he has proven to be unteachable, among other undesirable attributes. In the interim, just as the people defeated the ACP, they shall continue to fight for their rights and our environment. Eventually, the politicians that put people before profit will come along.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2020. Climate Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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