With the final leg of the US Presidential Elections around the corner, the discussion over the policies put forth by the Republican and Democratic candidates has intensified. And in the wake of the second Presidential debate and subsequent tweets and comments by President Trump, one topic in particular has become a bone of contention.
President Trump on Monday put out several tweets attacking his opponent Joe Biden over the latter's stance on fracking.
What is fracking?
It is a process by which oil and natural gas can be more easily extracted from shale rocks. Fracking involves the use of drills to fracture bedrocks deep within the earth before using pressurised liquid to split them open. While it has been done in different ways for many years, the currently used practice is also known as hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking and and involves drilling thousands of feet into the earth to reach the desired rock formations.
Why is it problematic?
While fracking can help make oil and gas reserves more easily accessible, it can take a massive toll on the environment. Not only in the areas where fracking it undertaken, the briny wastewater that comes as a byproduct of the process can at times contaminate rivers and freshwater supplies. At the same time, the process has also sparked concerns about the possibility of carcinogenic chemicals escaping and contaminating groundwater around the fracking site.
While these can be limited with the precautionary measures that companies have put in place, fracking can also take a massive toll on the environment. It uses massive quantities of water and the process itself has also prompted concern about possible earthquakes and tremors. Taking place as it often does is less developed areas, fracking can also affect the ecosystem.
Where do Joe Biden and President Donald Trump fall on fracking?
President Trump who is fighting to net a second term in office is supportive of efforts to extract oil and gas. As such, fracking finds favour with him, and has prompted him to repeatedly lash out at Joe Biden over the issue. Trump who has in the past decried some of the efforts to curb climate change had not put forth much by way of measures to address the potential problems that fracking can cause during his campaign.
Joe Biden on the other hand takes a far more moderate approach. While the Democratic camp has repeatedly said that they do not intend to let fracking be a continuing process, the implication here is that it will be phased out gradually.
"Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact," Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris had tweeted earlier in October at the time of her debate with Mike Pence.
While Trump has repeatedly insisted that Biden wanted to "ban fracking" and consequently make many Americans lose their jobs, the Biden camp has not actually committed to it. In fact, the "Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice" as uploaded to his website mentions only "President Trump’s attack on federal lands and waters".
It explains his intent towards "banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, modifying royalties to account for climate costs, and establishing targeted programs to enhance reforestation and develop renewables on federal lands and waters with the goal of doubling offshore wind by 2030."
But while many are concerned about the environmental repercussions of fracking, it must be noted that expansion of fracking efforts have created new jobs and also helped the United States become the world’s largest oil and gas producer. As such, it is perhaps understandable why the President is supportive of the measure.
"Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and others, please watch. His party, and Joe, will stop Fracking immediately. Millions of jobs lost as energy prices soar. Vote Trump!" the President tweeted on Monday morning.
He has also shared previous comments made by Biden where he had made comments about how he was against fracking.