US Election 2020: What is fracking and why is it being discussed so much
The debate on fracking is a decade long one: a central conversation point in the larger discourse around climate change and also a major policy difference between Biden and Trump.Updated: Oct 25, 2020, 19:58 IST
In the third presidential debate that took place on Thursday, US President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden were at loggerheads once again on the issue of fracking. This is not the first time that fracking has been discussed in this election cycle.
Here’s everything you need to know about the issue:
What is fracking?
Fracking is the technology that allows oil and gas to be extracted from shale rock using a specific technique called horizontal hydraulic fracturing in which drillers bore through thousands of feet of earth to reach the shale. Then the drill bits are turned horizontally deeper into the ground in search of oil and gas. After this, water is shot at the rock at a high speed and oil and gas molecules flow out of the cracks.
How is fracking pertinent to US economy?
Fracking has helped in the massive expansion of drilling and thereby in creating new jobs in the US economy. It has also helped the United States become the world’s largest oil and gas producer as well as an exporter.
What is Biden’s and Trump’s stand on fracking?
The debate on fracking is a decade long one as it is the central conversation point in the larger discourse around climate change. It is being discussed so much as it marks a policy difference between Biden and Trump.
Biden has promised his ‘Build Back Better’ plan that focuses on renewable forms of energy and creating jobs through them and has called for a limited ban on fracking which means ending the use of federally controlled lands for fracking. On the other hand, President Trump rejects the concept of any ban and has held the idea that he is protecting the oil and coal jobs through his stand.
Why is fracking a voting issue in these elections?
The issue is a way for Trump to capture working-class voters, who tend to vote for the Democratic Party. Through this, Trump is also aiming to show voters that his focus is entirely on the economy and jobs. Moreover, four swing states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado and New Mexico—are largely affected by the issue of fracking and Trump is trying to capture the votes here. Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes; Ohio has 18; Colorado has nine and New Mexico has five electoral votes.
Trump is also able to project Biden as bowing to the left extreme of the Democrats as the Green New Deal (‘Build Back Better’ plan is a reformed version of the deal) was initially proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders and supported by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.