Bernie Sanders wants a nationwide ban on fracking, aiming to draw a contrast with his opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, who would allow the controversial oil and gas drilling method in limited circumstances.
“The growing body of evidence tells us that fracking is a danger to our water supply, our most precious resource. It is a danger to the air we breathe. It has resulted in more earthquakes. It is highly explosive. And it is contributing to climate change,” Sanders told 5,000 people at a campaign event in Binghamton
Sanders made his call for a fracking ban in the Southern Tier, where ample supplies of natural gas are available in the Marcellus Shale, but for the fact that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo banned fracking in the state in December 2014. Sanders’ home state of Vermont also has banned the practice.
Concern about water contamination prompted Cuomo to ban hyraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which huge volumes of water are pumped a mile or more into the earth to free the gas that’s trapped there. The practice creates huge volumes of waste water, and some people who live near fracked wells claim that fracking has contaminated their well water.
“I want to applaud you for standing up to Gov. Cuomo and demanding that New York State ban fracking,” Sanders told the audience in Binghamton. But he added: “If we are serious, we need to put an end to fracking not only in New York and Vermont but all over this country.”
Clinton, who supports the New York fracking ban, had backed expanded fracking overseas in some circumstances when she was secretary of state.
She offered a much more nuanced view of the practice at a debate in Flint, Mich., last month.
“I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one,” she said. “I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it – number three – unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using.
“So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” Clinton added.
The fracking issue has split residents of the Southern Tier, but Democrats – especially in college communities and the liberal enclave of Cayuga County – have tended to oppose fracking.