Hillary Clinton is taking heat for her stance on fracking, with energy experts saying her vow to stop the environmentally questionable drilling tactic is ringing hollow.
Both Clinton and Sanders addressed the issue of fracking at this week’s debate in Flint, Michigan. The issue is especially pertinent to the Michigan city, which is in the midst of a toxic water crisis.
Critics of fracking say it destroys ground water, creating wide-ranging pollution.
As Mother Jones noted, Hillary Clinton had a very complicated take on the issue.
“Hillary Clinton, though, needed more time to outline three conditions in a more nuanced answer on fracking. She’s against it ‘when any locality or any state is against it,’ ‘when the release of methane or contamination of water is present,’ and ‘unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using.’
“Until those conditions are met, ‘we’ve got to regulate everything that is currently underway, and we have to have a system in place that prevents further fracking.’ “
“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,” she added.
But it was something of a flip flop for Hillary Clinton, who had offered more direct support for fracking in the past. In 2014, she told the National Clean Energy Summit that she was in favor of “smart regulations.”
“With the right safeguards in place, gas is cleaner than coal. And expanding production is creating tens of thousands of new jobs,” she said (via Mother Jones). “And lower costs are helping give the United States a big competitive advantage in energy-intensive energies.”
But critics aren’t buying the about face Hillary Clinton seems to have done on fracking. Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, said her stance against fracking is seen as empty rhetoric.
“Secretary Clinton’s answer is essentially campaign hyperbole, and meant to appease her environmental constituency,” he told the Dallas Morning News (via Fortune). “In reality, it has little substance to it.”
Others predicted that Hillary Clinton will have a difficult time convincing voters that she is serious about climate issues.
“Clinton will continue to struggle to convince climate advocates that she is serious about addressing the crisis until she comes out for a full ban on fracking,” said Yong Jung Cho, campaign coordinator of grassroots groups 350 Action.
Clinton is also having a difficult time backing up her tough stance on fracking. This week, just days after taking what seemed to be a hard-line stance against fracking, she attended a $575-a-plate fundraising lunch from an investment firm that invests heavily in fracking.
Hillary says she'd regulate fracking. Today a firm investing in fracking is hosting a fundraiser for her. https://t.co/0wVoJBKEpd— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) March 9, 2016
The flip-flop from Hillary Clinton may have come at the worst time. After seeming taking a stranglehold on the Democratic race following Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton has seen her momentum stunted as Bernie Sanders won a stretch of states, leading to the biggest upset of the election season to date.
Trailing Clinton by 20 points on some polls in Michigan, Bernie Sanders was able to pull off what polling expert Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight called the biggest primary upset of all time. While Clinton was able to rack up large victories across southern states, those are mostly done voting now, and a series of rust belt midwestern states are ahead, which could give Bernie Sanders a chance to climb back into the race.
As CNN noted, Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness was a major factor in the upset.
“In another troubling sign for the Clinton campaign, among voters who said their most important priority in a presidential candidate is that they are honest and trustworthy, Sanders overwhelmingly outperformed Clinton, 80% to 19%.”
The victory has also bought Bernie Sanders more time to pound Hillary Clinton on some of the inconsistencies of her campaign, including her stance on fracking.
[Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images]