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‘Fracking’ with its environmental harms, now acceptable to U.S. Democrats, to help win the election?

Press Worries About a Fracking Ban’s ‘Risk’ to Democrats—Not Fracking’s Threat to Planet, Fair,

JOSHUA CHO, 16 Oct 20, In last week’s vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence, Harris reiterated Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s rejection of a fracking ban, despite her earlier call for one when she was apresidential candidate (CBS News, 10/7/20):

“I will repeat, and the American people know, that Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact,” Harris said.

Harris emphasized that Biden “believes” in science; claimed that he “understands that the West Coast of our country is burning” and “sees what is happening on the Gulf states, which are being battered by storms”; and that he has “seen and talked with the farmers in Iowa, whose entire crops have been destroyed because of floods.”

One can —only wonder whether Biden or Harris truly “believe” in science when they pretend a fracking ban and a host of other strong climate measures are not urgent necessities required immediately. In 2018, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced that carbon pollution needed to be cut by 45% by 2030 in order to keep the planet below the critical 1.5°C warming threshold to prevent irreversible planetary devastation (Guardian10/8/18). As time goes on, more reports inform us that pollution and the climate crisis are actually even worse than we thought (e.g., Vox8/12/20New York Times10/23/1912/4/19).

Yet whenever there are discussions about enacting a national fracking ban, corporate media seem to prioritize the supposed short-term potential “risks” to Democrats’ electoral prospects, or potential economic downturns, over the long-term prospects for human civilization’s survival.

When there was discussion of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bill for a nationwide fracking ban earlier this year, the New York Times’ “In Crucial Pennsylvania, Democrats Worry a Fracking Ban Could Sink Them” (1/27/20) cited a few state Democratic politicians claiming that any presidential candidate who supports a national fracking ban would risk losing Pennsylvania in the general election. The Times trivialized the issue by reducing it to a “political bet,” with the highest stakes being the mere loss of a Democratic presidency, as opposed to dooming humanity to climate apartheid (FAIR.org7/30/19) and ultimately losing human life as we know it

to natural disasters (FAIR.org6/11/199/5/191/3/209/18/20). The Times’ Lisa Friedman and Shane Goldmacher wrote:

A pledge to ban all hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, could jeopardize any presidential candidate’s chances of winning this most critical of battleground states — and thus the presidency itself…  In some ways, the fracking ban is indicative of the entire political bet undergirding the candidacies of Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren that the 2020 campaign will not be won by appeals to the narrow interests of traditional swing voters but through the mass mobilization of an energized electorate.

NPR’s “Proposals to Ban Fracking Could Hurt Democrats in Key States” (2/11/20) likewise made dubious pronouncements on the opinions of swing-state voters the focal point of the story, as opposed to what actions are required to resolve the climate crisis:

Climate change is a top issue in the Democratic presidential primaries and some candidates have taken relatively aggressive policy stands, including vows to ban hydraulic fracturing. But some Democrats worry that could push moderate voters in key swing states to reelect President Trump next November… In a swing state like Pennsylvania, a major gas producer, fracking and energy are key issues. Even a small segment of voters swayed one way or another could change the election.

After the primaries, it’s clear that corporate media believe it’s their duty to function as Biden’s de facto campaign manager by explaining to voters what Biden’s position on a fracking ban actually is, as well as advising Biden to reject a fracking ban because, they claim, that would be an electoral disaster. Soon after the debate, Quartz (10/8/20) explained that Biden and Harris don’t support a fracking ban, because it “tempts political suicide in swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio where fossil fuels still rule.” Why an electoral disaster ought to be prioritized over civilizational disaster is never explained. …….

Environmental activist Bill McKibben (New Yorker10/9/19) pointed out that US claims to have reduced carbon emissions during the past 20 years have mainly been accomplished by replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas-fired power plants. While burning gas produces less carbon dioxide than coal, carbon dioxide isn’t the only greenhouse gas. The second most important contributor is methane, which can warm the planet more than 80 times as much as the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

Fracking,” more formally known as “hydraulic fracturing,” is a method of extracting natural gas (as well as oil) from the ground with a horizontal drilling process that pumps water, sand and chemicals into the ground to fracture rocks that release fossil fuels. And in the process of fracking, lots of methane leaks out at every stage. The US strategy of reducing carbon emissions without reducing the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted is a form of literal gaslighting that encourages other countries to do the same.

The New York Times (11/8/1912/16/19) has published a series of excellent investigative reports that used infrared video gear and satellite measurements to capture the invisible methane emissions at “super emitter” fracking sites, where large-scale methane leaks are responsible for a disproportionately high share of methane emissions. The Times (6/21/182/19/20) has also reported on findings showing that the US oil and gas industry is responsible for a much larger proportion of methane emissions than the US government previously thought, with oil and gas production in general being more responsible for soaring methane levels than natural sources, like the ocean bed and mud volcanoes. ……

FAIR (10/16/19) has pointed out how corporate media cheerleading of the “Shale Revolution” helped lead the US to become the world’s largest oil and gas producer during the Obama years; when they bemoaned the loss of fossil fuel emissions during the Covid pandemic (FAIR.org4/29/20), corporate journalists seemed more concerned with the profits of advertisers than with the survival of human civilization. Running excuses for presidential candidates in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry is only more evidence of the same.

Environmental and labor activists, economists and scientists have for years discussed the need for a full employment program based on green jobs to serve as a just transition for workers who would be displaced by a fracking ban; there is no reason for a fracking ban to be “political suicide” unless corporate journalists are determined to equate that with the death of the fossil fuel industryhttps://fair.org/home/press-worries-about-a-fracking-bans-risk-to-democrats-not-frackings-threat-to-planet/

October 17, 2020 - Posted by | election USA 2020

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