For the past seven years, Republicans have developed a reputation as the party of “No,” but at Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders looked ready to usurp the mantle.
After former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a lengthy answer explaining her position on hydraulic fracturing, Sanders responded with a quick, “No. I do not support fracking.”
Presumably he also does not support cheaper energy, tens of thousands of blue collar jobs or gasoline below $2 per gallon.
Sanders even took aim at the Democratic governors who have argued that fracking can be done safely and helps the local economy. You would think that a self-proclaimed socialist would praise the well-paying, working-class jobs that grow in the shale fields across our nation, or recognize how a 60 percent drop in natural gas prices has helped working families afford electricity and heating. Instead he’s treating fracking as nothing more than a wedge issue. For a man who isn’t establishment, Sanders sure is acting like a politician.
Fracking is more complex than a “yes” or “no,” and Texans know well the risks and rewards that come from energy extraction. The oil and gas industry doesn’t do itself favors when it erects a brick wall to all criticism, but politicians and activists like Sanders ignore reality when they cast fracking as an unmitigated evil.
Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, another Democrat, pointed out last year that actual instances of direct harm from fracking are few.
“We can’t find examples in Colorado, or more than one or two examples, where fracking, in any sense, has caused harm or been sufficiently dangerous to the public that would justify us to ban it,” Hickenlooper said in an interview with Colorado Public Radio last year.