Biden’s pick of ‘anti-fracking’ Harris for VP underscores Democrats’ climate agenda

Only Subscribers can read the full Article

Joe Biden’s pick of senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in November’s US presidential election shores up the environmental credentials of the Democratic Party’s policy platform, and introduces fresh doubts around whether a new administration in the White House would move to curb or outlaw fracking in the country.

The California senator, who presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Biden yesterday unveiled as his pick for the vice-presidential ticket, has a track record campaigning for climate and environmental justice issues and was one of the first senators to endorse the ambitious Green New Deal.

Harris served as California’s attorney general from 2011-17, in which time she vigorously defended former president Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and New Source Standards that sought to address greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

She also sued oil and gas companies for alleged environmental infringements, and secured a USD 14 million settlement with BP in 2016 over alleged violations of state laws regarding underground fuel storage tank laws.

Harris assumed office as the junior US senator from California in 2017, and launched her own bid for the presidential nomination before stepping aside in December 2019.

On the campaign trail, Harris said in September there was “no question” she would ban fracking, starting with “what we can do on day one around public lands”. She added: “We have to just acknowledge that the residual impact of fracking is enormous in terms of the impact on the health and safety of communities.”

US president Donald Trump was quick to pounce on this when Biden unveiled his choice of running-mate. “She is against fracking; she is against petroleum products,” he told reporters yesterday. “She’s against fracking. Fracking is a big deal. I mean, how do you do that and go into Pennsylvania or Ohio or Oklahoma or the great state of Texas?” the president was quoted as saying.

However, Harris’ USD 10 trillion climate plan, released last year, stopped short of demanding an outright ban, proposing only to “immediately halt[] all new fossil fuel leases on federal lands and waters”. This is in line with Biden’s stated position on the matter.

Harris’ climate plan aimed to create a carbon-neutral economy by 2045, end fossil fuel subsidies, enforce corporate climate risk disclosures, and introduce a “progressively increasing fee” on carbon emissions. It also proposed for the US to rejoin the Paris climate accord.

Last week, Harris and New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the Climate Equity Act, legislation to “ensure that the United States government centers communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis in policy related to climate and the environment”.

‘Frontline communities’ are “those that have experienced systemic socioeconomic disparities, environmental racism, and other forms of injustice, including low-income communities, indigenous peoples, and communities of color”.

Announcing his choice on social media yesterday, Biden hailed Harris as “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants”. Former president Barack Obama said Harris “spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake”.

Harris’ appointment was also welcomed by the Sunrise Movement, a youth branch of the Democratic party that campaigns against climate change and for green jobs and played a role in forging the Green New Deal.

The California senator made climate change “a top priority” and took the Sunrise Movement’s ‘No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge’ – under which signatories commit not to receive contributions greater than USD 200 from oil, gas and coal industry executives and lobbyists.

But American Energy Alliance president Thomas Pyle was quoted as saying: “Joe Biden has chosen a running mate who is even less connected to working-class Americans and whose energy platform is even more out of touch than his own.” - SK

Contact the editor:

Sebastian Kennedy
[email protected]

Subscription Benefits

Our three titles – LNG Business Review, Gas Matters and Gas Matters Today – tackle the biggest questions on global developments and major industry trends through a mixture of news, profiles and analysis.

LNG Business Review

LNG Business Review seeks to discover new truths about today’s LNG industry. It strives to widen market players’ scope of reference by actively engaging with events, offering new perspectives while challenging existing ones, and never shying away from being a platform for debate.

Gas Matters

Gas Matters digs deep into the stories of today, keeping the challenges of tomorrow in its sights. Weekly features and interviews, informed by unrivalled in-house expertise, offer a fresh perspective on events as well as thoughtful, intelligent analysis that dares to challenge the status quo.

Gas Matters Today

Gas Matters Today cuts through the bluster of online news and views to offer trustworthy, informed perspectives on major events shaping the gas and LNG industries. This daily news service provides unparalleled insight by drawing on the collective knowledge of in-house reporters, specialist contributors and extensive archive to go beyond the headlines, making it essential reading for gas industry professionals.

Did you know that your Internet Explorer Browser is out of date?

Your MS Internet Explorer browser is out of date, and will not be fully compatible with our website. For best browsing experience we recommend that you upgrade your IE browser to a more recent version or use an alternative, more recent browser.