Friday, April 15, 2016

Fracking takes center stage in New York primary, could play a role in several remaining conests

The next presidential primary will be Tuesday in New York, the only state that has prohibited hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas and tensions over the issue run high. Some say allowing it would destroy the state, while others say it is needed boost the state's economy, especially in struggling rural areas. "Whether or not the state should allow fracking had been a contentious issue for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for years," Philip Bump reports for The Washington Post. "It wasn't until after he won re-election in 2014 that Cuomo finally nixed fracking in the state, after previously suggesting that he might allow it in the economically depressed counties along the state's southern border." (Post map)

Fracking could continue to play a significant role in many of the remaining Democratic primaries, National Journal reports in a story that is at least initially behind a paywall.

"All three Republican candidates have supported fracking, but John Kasich banned it in Ohio parks" as governor there, notes Joseph Spector, Albany bureau chief for the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former New York senator who has supported fracking in the past, has taken a strategic and incremental attitude toward it, while Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has been dogmatic and ambitious in his opposition, Bump reports. "It's more a complicated issue outside of New York City, where the drilling would happen and the much-needed jobs would appear. But there are an awful lot of environmentally sensitive Democrats in the city for whom the idea itself is unacceptable. Giving us three political positions: It should be allowed [Republicans], it held promise (Clinton), it can't happen (Sanders)."

Clinton said in Thursday's debate in Brooklyn: "I don't think I've changed my view on what we need to do to go from where we are, where the world is heavily dependent on coal and oil, but principally coal, to where we need to be, which is clean renewable energy, and one of the bridge fuels is natural gas... So we did say natural gas is a bridge. We want to cross that bridge as quickly as possible, because in order to deal with climate change, we have got to move as rapidly as we can."

Sanders responded: "Here is a real difference. This is a difference between understanding that we have a crisis of historical consequence here, and incrementalism and those little steps are not enough. Not right now. Not on climate change. ... We have got to tell the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet."

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