Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Trump Seeks to Frack the 2020 Election

Politics
The message of the global movement to ban fracking and get off fossil fuels envisions a different future, one that starts with cutting off pollution at the source. cta88 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wenonah Hauter

Donald Trump's scheduled visit to a fracking industry gathering in Pittsburgh this week is a hugely symbolic moment for the 2020 election campaign, as well as the urgent battle to contain climate catastrophe.


Trump will give the keynote address at the Shale Insight conference, a regular get-together for gas industry heavyweights. If he manages to stay on message — no small feat — he will tout his support for fracking and fossil fuel projects in Pennsylvania and Ohio, two states that are absolutely critical to his re-election. Promoting dirty energy, so the conventional wisdom goes, delivers votes. But there's no reason to believe this is true.

Trump's trip to Pittsburgh underscores his administration's vision for long-term fossil fuel dependence, along with increased pollution and plastics production. The gas industry has the exact same agenda, and it desperately needs a Trump re-election to maintain profitability. Several leading candidates pursuing the Democratic nomination, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, offer a distinctly different vision: A rapid shift away from fossil fuels and towards a strong Green New Deal that would ban fracking.

Fossil fuel corporations have an alarming plan for the future of Pennsylvania, the Appalachian region and the rest of America: A massive buildout of pipelines, power plants and petrochemical 'cracker' plants that turn fracked gas into plastic. Our recent report, "The Fracking Endgame," finds there are more than 700 of these projects planned or underway. This all adds up to increased greenhouse gas emissions, worsening air quality in vulnerable communities and generating more of the single use plastics choking our oceans and waterways.

The message of the global movement to ban fracking and get off fossil fuels envisions a different future, one that starts with cutting off pollution at the source. You cannot do that with cap and trade plans or voluntary agreements with polluters; we must stop the drilling, and building the pipelines and power plants that last for decades.

Republicans and shadowy fossil fuel-funded front groups are eager to hammer the message that taking action to save our climate will cost jobs — and, more importantly to them, will hopefully cost Democrats votes on Election Day. Unfortunately, this trope is embraced by some Democrats too, who seem to think that swing state voters care more about the profits of the fracking industry than the health of their communities or the future of the planet.

In reality, Democratic voters overwhelmingly back the calls to ban fracking: a new AP/NORC poll found that just 9 percent of Democrats support policies that would encourage more fracking; independent voters are close behind. Under any conventional theory of politics, candidates would be wise to listen. And what about a heavily fracked state like Pennsylvania? 55 percent of respondents in one poll said the negative environmental impacts of gas drilling were not worth the supposed economic benefits. This is a stunning turnaround from the results the same poll recorded just a few years ago. Pennsylvanians have seen for themselves that fracking has delivered water contamination, air pollution and an array of public health problems.

So, while Trump takes the stage in Pittsburgh to tout fracking and taunt those of us fighting for a livable future, Americans should see it for what it is: A preview of one part of the White House's desperate re-election scheme. While Donald Trump will run as the champion of a disastrous addiction to fossil fuels and fracking, Democrats should proudly champion a different vision: Cutting off fossil fuels, a fair and just transition for workers, meaningful collaboration with affected communities, and massive investments in renewables. We can deliver desperately-needed jobs in Appalachia building our clean energy future, instead of relying on petrochemicals and dirty energy infrastructure that jeopardize local health and safety.

Presidential candidates who call for an end to fracking are not pursuing a dangerous policy that will cost them votes. They are doing precisely what is necessary for this moment. They should welcome the contrast with Trump's energy agenda.


Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Action.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A view of a washed out road near Utuado, Puerto Rico, after a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew dropped relief supplies to residents Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. The locals were stranded after Hurricane Maria by washed out roads and mudslides. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Coral Natalie Negrón Almodóvar

The Earth began to shake as Tamar Hernández drove to visit her mother in Yauco, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 28, 2019. She did not feel that first tremor — she felt only the ensuing aftershocks — but she worried because her mother had an ankle injury and could not walk. Then Hernández thought, "What if something worse is coming our way?"

Read More
Flooded battery park tunnel is seen after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. CC BY 2.0

President Trump has long touted the efficacy of walls, funneling billions of Defense Department dollars to build a wall on the southern border. However, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a study that included plans for a sea wall to protect New Yorkers from sea-level rise and catastrophic storms like Hurricane Sandy, Trump mocked it as ineffective and unsightly.

Read More
Sponsored
A general view of fire damaged country in the The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area near the town of Blackheath on Feb. 21, 2020 in Blackheath, Australia. Brook Mitchell / Getty Images

In a post-mortem of the Australian bushfires, which raged for five months, scientists have concluded that their intensity and duration far surpassed what climate models had predicted, according to a study published yesterday in Nature Climate Change.

Read More
Sea level rise causes water to spill over from the Lafayette River onto Llewellyn Ave in Norfolk, Virginia just after high tide on Aug. 5, 2017. This road floods often, even when there is no rain. Skyler Ballard / Chesapeake Bay Program

By Tim Radford

The Texan city of Houston is about to grow in unexpected ways, thanks to the rising tides. So will Dallas. Real estate agents in Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; and Las Vegas, Nevada could expect to do roaring business.

Read More
Malala Yousafzai (left) and Greta Thunberg (right) met in Oxford University Tuesday. Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

What happens when a famous school striker meets a renowned campaigner for education rights?

Read More