An activist with the Sunrise Movement confronted Biden during a campaign event, asking about his adviser Heather Zichal’s ties to the natural gas industry.
“No, no, I know,” Biden pushed back, pointing out that Zichal “worked for us in the [Obama] administration.”
The former vice president then proceeded to defend his record on climate change.
“If you look at my record,” he said, “look at my record.”
“Just look at my record,” Biden told the activist, who continued to press on, demanding that the former vice president commits to banning fracking.
Biden responded that fracking cannot be banned immediately, arguing that the United States needs to gradually transition away from the environment-damaging oil and gas extraction method.
“You can’t ban fracking right now,” Biden explained. “You gotta transition away from it.”
“You’re gonna ban fracking all across America, right now, right?” the former vice president asked.
“I would love to,” the activist responded.
“I’d love to, too. I’d love to make sure we can’t use any oil or gas, period. Now, now, is it possible?” the Democratic presidential candidate inquired.
“Yes,” the activist replied, prompting Biden to advise him to vote for a different candidate.
“Well, you oughta vote for someone else.”
Biden has been criticized for not embracing more comprehensive legislation to combat climate change. The former vice president has vowed to reinstate Obama-era regulations, which came across intense scrutiny from climate change organizations and non-governmental groups. In September, for instance, he was confronted about taking campaign contributions from individuals with ties to the natural gas industry, only to dismiss the individual inquiring about the issue, according to The Cut.
Other Democratic presidential candidates have proposed aggressive measures to address the climate crisis. As Common Dreams notes, Biden’s strongest competitor, Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders — who is proposing a federal fracking ban and supports the Green New Deal — has put forward more ambitious legislation.
Here's a thought, @JoeBiden. Maybe your climate policy advisor shouldn't be somebody who has taken a million dollars from the fossil fuel industry ????— Sunrise Movement ???? (@sunrisemvmt) December 5, 2019
Otherwise your commitment to averting the climate crisis sounds like a bunch of...well, malarkey. pic.twitter.com/JnfRvOer45
On the campaign trail, Biden has had numerous encounters with activists, frequently offering unconventional advice.
Recently, when an immigrant rights advocate confronted the former vice president over Obama-era deportations — Barack Obama deported more undocumented immigrants than any president in United States history — Biden responded by telling him that he “should vote for Trump.”
Biden’s record on immigration has also been criticized, not just by activists, but by other Democrats looking to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.