Pumpjacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field, in Bakersfield, January 16, 2015. -AP
Several Democratic presidential candidates are running on a promise to ban fracking and stepping on unstable political ground as they do so.
An all-out prohibition on the controversial natural gas extraction process backed by Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren has been well received by the liberal and climate-focused voters closely watching the primary. But the proposal also threatens to antagonize unions and voters in areas that depend on oil and gas for jobs.
That opposition may be fiercest in some of the states Democrats care about most. Banning fracking could have a dramatic impact on the economy in Pennsylvania, a state Democrats consider a must-win in their pursuit of the White House. It could also jeopardize the party's hold on Colorado, a swing state trending its way, not to mention Democrats' dreams of winning statewide in Texas, the headquarters of the energy industry and home to 137,000 natural gas wells.
The candidates' support for a ban is one of the clearest examples of the party's move to the left in its 2020 primary. Only a few years ago, President Barack Obama celebrated the benefits of fracking welcoming the energy independence and lower costs that come from an increase in domestic production.
To address environmental concerns, his administration focused on tighter regulation of fracking on federal land but largely steered clear of the state-level battles over whether the practice was dangerous, dirty or accelerating climate change by encouraging dependence on fossil fuels. Even most environmental groups have advocated for regulation, not an all-out ban.
Leave Your Comments