Biden clarifies fracking position during Pittsburgh speech

Biden said he is 'not banning fracking'

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Monday he does not intend to ban fracking if he wins the November election, countering repeated claims from President Trump that his opponent would destroy Pennsylvania's fracking and fossil fuel industries.

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"I am not banning fracking," the former vice president said during a speech from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”

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Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a technique of extracting natural gas from the shale rock. It involves a drilling process that injects water, sand and chemicals into the ground, fracturing rocks and releasing the natural gas. The method is controversial and is often criticized by climate activists and Democrats

During a March primary debate, Biden -- when Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke of his own proposal to eliminate fracking entirely -- said "so am I," later declaring "no more -- no new -- fracking." But Biden's campaign said he misspoke and that his position was unchanged: he supports banning new oil gas and permits, including fracking, on federal land.

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Biden has proposed an aggressive $2 trillion plan to boost investment in clean energy and stop all carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035. It would set the country on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. He has proposed a worldwide ban on fossil fuel subsidies

Banning fracking on state-regulated private lands would likely require action by Congress. Biden has cast doubt on whether lawmakers would support such a ban.

"Because you can't ban fracking right now; you've got to transition away from it," he told one anti-fracking activist in December.

Still, Biden's running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, endorsed a complete ban of fracking during her own presidential campaign and the Green New Deal, the massive climate change proposal introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey. Vice presidential nominees typically defer to the top of the ticket on policy.

States with the most fracking, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, are key battleground states. Trump has seized onto the issue, offering misleading comments about Biden wanting to eliminate fracking -- and the hundreds of thousands of jobs the industry has created.

“Biden has promised to abolish the production of American oil, coal, shale and natural gas laying waste to the economies of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico, destroying those states,” Trump falsely stated during his speech at the Republican National Convention last week.

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Biden's comments in Pittsburgh came amid a fierce partisan battle over who is to blame for the violence and destruction during some of the anti-racism protests that have gripped the nation since the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis in May.

Protests were reignited last week after a video went viral showing police shooting Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back as he walked away from the officers. Blake survived, but attorneys for his family have said he is paralyzed from the waist down.

During a third night of unrest, looting and vandalism, two people were killed and a third was seriously wounded by gunfire. Authorities have charged 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse with homicide. He is in custody in Illinois, the Antioch police department announced in a Facebook post Thursday.