Monday, April 11, 2016

Sometimes Voters Just Want Straight Talk, Especially On Something As Important As Fracking


Hillary's on shaky ground whenever she gets backed into a corner regarding progressive issues. She's a conservative corporate Democrat trying to pretend she's a progressive for the sake of a primary fight with someone who is and a Democratic electorate that more and more frequently identifies as progressive and liberal. Her deceptive attacks on him as a gun-coddler and her absurd claims that Wall Street and Big Pharma and other of the most toxic special interests in the country, are opposing her, are party of a well-thought-out campaign strategy of obfuscation and deceit.

Her career-long haul from the Finance Sector is a stupendous $42,160,423, more than GOP notoriously crooked operators Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Rob Portman combined ($37,545,015). Pharmaceutical companies have given her $1,701,343. Although she tries denying it, FEC reports clearly show she's taken $868,048 from Oil & Gas interests. She's taken more more from lobbyists than anyone in the history of the U.S.A.-- $3,048,413. For the sake of comparison, the second and third most lobbyist-corrupted elected officials are John McCain ($1,911,950) and Harry Reid ($1,765,101). Lobbyists staff her campaign and executive her devious strategies against Bernie. She told Debbie Wasserman Schultz to throw out Obama's ban of lobbyists bribing the DNC. They're now back at it again.

And now she's walking into a buzzsaw issue important to progressives in New York and in California both, an issue she, as usual, is on the wrong side of and desperately trying to finesse: fracking. Greg Sargent, who seems generally sympathetic to her campaign, exposed the potentially devastating problem on Friday. In 2014, activists forced her ally, Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking in New York state. Her campaign spokesman, Brian Fallon, told Sargent that "[a]s she has said repeatedly, she does not believe fracking should take place where states and local communities oppose it. Consistent with that, she supports Governor Cuomo’s ban on fracking in New York State."
Sanders has argued for a total ban on fracking, which is the practice of releasing natural gas and oil from rock formations through high pressure injections of water and chemicals. Governor Cuomo banned fracking out of health and safety considerations, a major victory for the environmental moment. Sanders’s campaign has signaled it will use this against Clinton in the battle for New York. As one Sanders adviser puts it: “Fracking is something New York state has outlawed, and there’s a big difference between Hillary and Bernie.”

But Clinton, by aligning herself with New York’s fracking ban, may be able to minimize the political importance of that difference.

To be sure, there still is a legitimate, meaningful difference between the two candidates on the issue. At the Dem debate in Michigan on March 6th, Sanders declared his total opposition to fracking. Clinton said that she opposes fracking in certain conditions-- where states or localities are against it, where it is causing damage, or where there isn’t full transparency into what chemicals are being used. She argued for stricter regulation where it is happening, adding: “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.”

As Chris Mooney has explained, the two candidates differ in that Clinton’s position is more nuanced, in the sense that she does not want to override local officials in some situations, while Sanders does. It’s a debate that will unfold on the center left for years to come, and one that will become increasingly important in the argument over our energy future.

...This issue is very likely to come up at the New York debate on April 14th. Sanders will likely again declare his total opposition to fracking, and he and his campaign may continue to prod her on the issue in coming days, with Sanders perhaps challenging her on the stump to join him in backing a total fracking ban. Clinton-- at the debate and elsewhere-- will undoubtedly declare her support for the state’s ban. Sanders will try to make Clinton’s refusal to support a total federal ban stick.

But that could prove challenging, now that their political battle is unfolding in New York-- that is, in a state where there is an existing fracking ban that she backs. She supports a concrete anti-fracking policy in force in the state where the two candidates are competing for votes. So Sanders will have to argue that New York voters should oppose her because she does not support a national ban, even though she supports the ban in their state.

It could be much more difficult for her to worm out of it California, where many Democratic primary voters are concerned not just about the pollution and environmental degradation inherent to fracking, but about the potential of fracking setting off an existential series of earthquakes. The corrupted Sacramento Democratic establishment had gone very easy on the fracking industry and environmentalists and Climate Change activists expect Bernie to hold Clinton's feet to the fire on the issue regardless of whether she can lie her way out of taking a principled and, for her, an uncomfortable position in New York.

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