This article was originally published on September 13, 2019 and has since been updated.
By Umair Irfan
During the vice presidential debate, Vice President Mike Pence accused former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris of wanting to ban hydraulic fracturing.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want to raise taxes, bury our economy over a $2 trillion Green New Deal,” Pence said. “They want to abolish fossil fuels and ban fracking.”
Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, was adamant that this was not true. “First of all, I will repeat, and the American people know, that Joe Biden will not ban fracking,” Harris said. “That is a fact. That is a fact.”
Biden’s plan to address climate change calls for the United States to zero out its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 while helping the workers and communities that may suffer job losses in the switch to clean energy. It does not mention fracking at all.
For policymakers, the difficult choice is deciding whether the benefits outweigh the harm, and if fuels from fracking can be a stepping stone toward cleaner energy. “This is one of those issues where there’s just so much gray,” Sam Ori, executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, told Vox in 2019. “I don’t think that there’s a really clear case that says fracking is necessarily good or bad, on net.”