After the latest Democratic presidential debate on Thursday, Hillary Clinton told an activist with 350.org that she supports banning fossil fuel extraction on public lands.
The activist, quite literally, cheered.
That cheer might have been a tiny bit premature. Clinton’s quick comments hardly amount to a clear policy proposal. She said she agrees with President Obama on the issue, but Obama certainly does not oppose all fossil fuel extraction on public lands, even though he’s made recent moves to limit it. And though Clinton might support “moving” toward “no future extraction,” how far in the future are we talking about?
Still, climate activists, who have been pushing Clinton on this issue, excitedly seized on her words. Sierra Club Political Director Khalid Pitts said, “Secretary Clinton’s comments demonstrate, once again, the incredible gap between the leading Democratic and Republican candidates on the urgency of transitioning off of fossil fuels and tackling the climate crisis. Both Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders have called for the end of fossil fuel extraction on public lands, while the Republican field continues to argue over who is the most impermeable to science.”
Clinton and Sanders still have clearly differing views on fracking, though. Sanders wants to ban fracking completely. Clinton doesn’t.
“There are some parts of the country where it can be done safely, where you can control the methane,” she told 350.org activists at a campaign event in Hampton, N.H., on Tuesday. “We have to have every chemical disclosed, we have to make sure that communities can say no, but we can’t totally say, ‘never under any circumstances.’” Rather, Clinton told the activists that she has a “comprehensive plan about how we take money from the oil and gas industry and put it towards clean energy.” And on Thursday, Clinton said she doesn’t believe the president has the authority to ban fracking outright. She’s probably right.