Clinton’s Comments on Fracking From the Flint Debate and Why They Matter

Hillary Clinton

Here are the comments everyone is talking about from the Democratic presidential debate held in Flint, Mich., last night. It’s on fracking. When asked about whether he supports it, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said—predictably—no. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this:

“You know, I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one. I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it — number three — unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using.

“So 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. And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated.

“So first, we’ve got to regulate everything that is currently underway, and we have to have a system in place that prevents further fracking unless conditions like the ones that I just mentioned are met.”

She later added what has become a theme for her—that she is taking the realistic approach to phasing out fossil fuels.

“I’ve already said we are taking away the subsidies for oil and gas, but it is important that people understand that a president can’t go ordering folks around. Our system doesn’t permit that. I am going to set the goals. I will push everybody as hard as I can to achieve those goals.”

These comments represent a shift left for Clinton who as recently as 2014 called the natural gas boom in the U.S. “a safe bridge to a clean energy economy.” It isn’t come completely unexpected. Many political observers expected Clinton to be pushed to the left during the primaries by her Democratic opponents.

However, her comments about limiting fracking may not be realistic. Bloomberg News took a look and concluded that Clinton’s approach to fracking would be “difficult, if not impossible.”