The Democratic-Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders doubled down on Monday his commitment to ban fracking across the country at a New York rally. He renewed his focus to end hydraulic fracturing, a process to extract oil and gas from shale rock formations. This relatively new method has created a glut of oil and natural gas, and the savings have been passed on to consumers in lower electricity and gas prices. Energy analysts predict that the “resulting boom in traditional energy sources will allow the United States to overtake OPEC giant Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2020.”
Sanders and fracking have never really gotten along. Last fall, Sen. Sanders introduced “sweeping legislation to ban the extract of any fossil fuels on federal lands.” But starting Monday night in Binghampton, New York, and then moving across Pennsylvania, he made it a point to say he would institute a national ban on hydraulic fracturing. Sanders has become an expert at dividing the electorate up along income inequality, and is now using energy as another demarcation between him and Hillary Clinton.
Environmentalists successfully banned fracking in New York state by using reports generated by activists seeking to prevent further exploration of this natural resource. This dressed-up report was then used by Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking, despite its record of being a safe to extract natural gas and oil. New York sits on one of the largest shale gas formations in North America.
“In my view,” Sanders said on Monday, “if we are serious about safe and clean drinking water, if we are serious about clean air, if we are serious about combating climate change, we need to put an end to fracking not only in New York and Vermont, but all over this country.” Unfortunately for Sanders, none of those statements have any basis in reality. Even the EPA has weighed in and said fracking did not pose a risk to drinking water.
Sanders also congratulated Governor Cuomo on banning fracking, saying: “What may have been considered unrealistic or pie in the sky just a few years ago has now been achieved in New York because you made it happen.” Sanders is trying to contrast his views on fracking with those of his opponent Hillary Clinton, who also said she would work to ban fracking on federal lands.
Before giving his usual speech to the hundreds of ‘Bernheads,’ it was not at all surprising to see controversial director Josh Fox introduce Sanders to the crowd. Fox was the director behind the misleading anti-fracking movie GasLand, a two-part documentary that tried to show fracking was polluting drinking water and making water flammable. It was later revealed that fracking was not responsible for lighting water on fire, and that the phenomenon was caused by either natural reasons, or as one Texas court ruled, done intentionally.
Fox was accused of using falsehoods to further his anti-fracking goals. In GasLand II, the “filmmaker and anti-fracking activist” used “a Texas environmentalist’s hoax to show hydraulic fracturing allegedly contaminating water.” The movie included a scene showing a “Texas landowner lighting the contents of a garden hose on fire.” A Texas court ultimately ruled that the “scene was a hoax concocted by an environmental activist engaged in a prolonged battle with a local gas company. The environmentalist sought to inflate the dangers of fracking.”