Trump, Biden Clash over Oil & Gas Policy
US president Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden locked horns over oil and gas policy in final presidential debate on October 22, with some Democrats distancing themselves from the former vice president's comment that he would transition the country away from the oil industry.
"I do love the environment," Trump said, citing a federal programme to plant trees and claiming his administration had managed to bring emissions down to the lowest level in 35 years. Emissions have fallen significantly this year globally, because of coronavirus lockdowns and the resulting economic fallout.
Trump said he pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement because its implementation would have cost trillions of dollars and jeopardised millions of jobs. The US was "treated very unfairly" under the accord, Trump said, pointing to much higher levels of emissions in India and China.
"Global warming is an existential threat to humanity," Biden responded. "We have a moral obligation to deal with it and we're told by all the leading scientists in the world we don't have much time."
Trump accused his rival of wanting to "destroy" the oil industry. Biden replied saying he did want to replace oil with renewables eventually. "I would transition from the oil industry, yes," Biden said. He stressed that this transition would not happen overnight.
"He is going to destroy the oil industry," Trump repeated "Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Ohio?"
The 2020 US presidential election will take place on November 3, and national polls have consistently shown Trump trailing behind Biden over this year. But not all Democrats in oil-producing states see eye to eye with Biden on policy.
"Here's one of the places Biden and I disagree," Kendra Horn, a Democratic US representative from Oklahoma that is seeking re-election, said on Twitter on October 23. "We need an all-of-the-above energy approach that's consumer friendly, values energy independence, and protects Oklahoma jobs. I'll keep fighting for that in Congress."
"I disagree with VP Biden's statement tonight," US Democratic candidate Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico said. "Energy is part of the backbone of New Mexico's economy. We need to work together to promote responsible energy production and stop climate change, not demonise a single industry."
"I will continue to stand up to my party when they're out of touch with the reality on the ground," she added.
Trump repeated his accusation that Biden wanted to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, which the Democrat denied.
"I have never said I oppose fracking, I do rule out banning fracking. We need other industries to transition to get to complete zero emissions by 2025," Biden said. "What I will do with fracking over time, is make sure that we can capture the emissions from the fracking, capture the emissions from gas."
Biden did say he opposed fracking on federal land, however, which constitutes some 28% of total US land. The bulk is found in Alaska and the western states.