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EDITORIAL: Biden flip-flops on fracking

Joe Biden needs to win Pennsylvania, so he’s changed his position on fracking.

In late August, the Democratic presidential nominee emerged from his basement and traveled to the Keystone State. He sought to assure voters there that a Biden administration wouldn’t threaten the fracking industry. Fracking, which is a method of extracting oil and natural gas from shale rock, is a vital part of the state’s economy. A study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that outlawing fracking would eliminate 600,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone.

“I am not banning fracking,” Biden said. “Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking.”

That’s a John Kerry-level flip flop from the position he took repeatedly during the Democratic primary. Many Democratic voters want to eliminate oil and natural gas production under the guise of addressing global warming. Mr. Biden repeatedly told those voters that he agreed with them.

During a debate last year, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Mr. Biden if “there would be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?”

“We would make sure it’s eliminated,” Mr. Biden said.

During a March debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders challenged Mr. Biden on this issue. “You cannot continue, as I understand, Joe believes, to continue fracking,” Mr. Sanders said. “Correct me if I am wrong.”

Mr. Biden jumped in to do just that. “No new fracking,” he responded.

He echoed the same sentiment on the campaign trail. In January, a voter asked him if he agreed with “stopping fracking.” Mr. Biden responded, “Yes.”

“We are going to get rid of fossil fuels,” Mr. Biden said at a rally in February. He added, “We’re going to phase out fossil fuels.”

Sen. Kamala Harris has undergone a similar metamorphosis in recent weeks. Last September, Harris said during a CNN town hall event that “there’s no question I’m in favor of banning fracking.” Earlier this month, Ms. Harris said she was comfortable with Mr. Biden’s new position. Fracking provides “good-paying jobs in places like Pennsylvania,” she said.

This isn’t just an issue that should concern states that produce and refine fossil fuels. Fracking provides the energy that powers the modern economy. The U.S. Chamber estimated that a fracking ban would eliminate 19 million jobs nationwide by 2025. It would also double the cost of gasoline. It would triple the cost of natural gas. It would quadruple the cost of household electricity. It would hinder the nation’s energy independence.

None of this is surprising as Mr. Biden attempts to reconcile his promises to the far left with the reality of electoral politics. But if Mr. Biden is elected, expect him to flip on his current flip-flop. That would be bad news for Pennsylvania — and Nevada.

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