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Bernie Sanders is Right - Regulation Isn’t Enough, We Need to Ban Fracking


Bernie Sanders is Right - Regulation Isn’t Enough, We Need to Ban Fracking

Deborah Burger

Hillary Clinton promises to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Yet even if she were to keep this promise, it simply doesn’t go far enough.

Fracking poses an immediate threat to the health of our communities and our environment but, most critically, it threatens our very existence by exacerbating the climate crisis. There is only one solution, that proposed by Bernie Sanders - leave it in the ground. Sanders’ unequivocal ban on fracking, coupled with a just transition to clean and renewable energy, is what this country needs.


I live in the area of the most concentrated shale gas fracking in N. America and maybe the world. Sure, there have been pollution concerns, but the world is hardly ending - although it may seem that way for a lot of young people recently laid off from their natural gas fracking jobs down here in the rust belt. Before shale gas development, we were facing skyrocketing natural gas prices, the prospect of shortages, and many poor people could not afford to heat their homes. Makeshift heating arrangements caused many house fires and CO poisonings that killed a lot of poor people. All of the chemical hazards Ms. Burger lists could be eliminated with appropriate regulation. I really wish activists would stop with the silicosis and fracking thing, it makes them look stupid - any construction job, concrete or asphalt plant, quarry, or even daily walks on a beach on a breezy day present greater silicosis risks.

Do you know that the safety record, in terms of injury, occupational disease and fatality rate, is better for nuclear power than any other way of generating electricity - and it is virtually CO2 free too.

And GMOs by themselves are not harmful (though, in many cases very useful either) - their harm from is their usage to subjugate farming and food supply to a the system of "intellectual property" driven monopoly-capitalism. Publicly-developed, open-source GMO's used in different ways that could be beneficial (for example GMO technology that is not deliberately integrated with ever greater amounts of herbicide and pesticide use), and increase the viability of small farming.

Sanders is going to open himself to some pretty major attacks if he keeps the uncompromising "ban fracking" position. All the Republican will have to do is point out that Bernie wants you to face a $400/month heating bill (or maybe no heat at all) every winter and $8.00/gallon gasoline and that will be it for his prospects. Better that he promote alternatives to fossil fuels that will make fossil fuels and fracking redundant.


The only entities that swear to the safety of these 2 toxic industries are those on the payrolls of both. These days, due to Regulatory Capture, those govt. agencies theoretically tasked with protecting Public Health instead protect industry.

You are a shill on this topic. You also love to call people who challenge Establishment Standards "conspiracy Theorists." Your faith in govt. has the taint of your paycheck depending upon as much. That, and the FACT that you post during business hours on a near-daily basis... hardly the M.O. of an employed ENGINEER.


Thank you, Ms. Burger. It's no accident that Nurses--on the front end of witnessing compromises to human health--back Bernie Sanders (as a major organization). He gets it right on Fracking and a great many other issues.


I would love to see fracking banned but before it is banned I want to see a plan on how all the natural gas from fracking is going to be replaced. About a third of electricity in the US comes from burning natural gas and much of the heating, and the main alternative for heating is oil which also now often comes from fracking. I certainly do not want to see coal burning replace natural. Burning coal results in twice as much CO2 emissions as burning natural gas and coal burns much dirtier releasing large amounts of toxins. Bernie seems to think he running for executive director of Greenpeace USA, not president of the United States. There are serious consequences to a complete national ban on fracking including large scale unemployment. Someone running for president needs to address these consequences with some sort of plan. As an activist Bernie is extraordinary but as a candidate for president he is rather disappointing. This country deserves better and hopefully will wind up electing someone who is more suitable for this extremely important position.


Yes all science and engineering and mathematics and logical analysis is evil. Nothing objective and verifiable is to be trusted. Only emotion is to be trusted.


I agree with the first part of your piece, but regarding Sanders, he is still by far the best candidate. As soon as he becomes president he will realize that an nationwide ban on "fracking" (which fracking? - hydrofrcturing has been used in various forms in oil and gas wells since the 1940's) is not practical. The proper approach will be to regulate the pollutants and chemical products used in fracking - including requiring full disclosure of 'proprietary" chemical products and banning many of them. Note that even the fracking bans in European countries are not absolute bans - just very strict requirements. These countries simply get their gas from Russia instead - a crooked gangster country with no environmental regulations. So there "ban" is only a larger scale form of Nimbyyism that is hurting the environment.

The big problem with Sander's absolutist positions is that he making himself wide open to attacks in the general election.


how much is being exported?
Crude exports 2016

US Crude Exports Congress

LNG 2016


"Implementation and enforcement of regulations have proven difficult and ineffective at the state and federal levels."

That is simply not true. Just to take one example, Ms. Burger looks old enough to remember what the air and rivers and lead-laden car exhaust used to look/smell like. How did that happen if regulations were "ineffective". And bans are regulations too.


Yes, I guess we could ban exports, but then the buyers would just get their gas and oil from Russia - a gangster state with probably no environmental regulations at all. And back before fracking, when the US was nowhere near exporting natural gas, prices were really shooting up there and there was even talk of shortages. So even with an export ban, fracked shale gas would still be needed, although less of it. The is not much conventional gas left.

Fracking can be cleaned up to a considerable degree - they done such with every other industrial process.

Better that we develop alternatives and render the issue moot. I keep my house temperature at 62 day, 55 night and use a wind energy supplier. My wife commutes in a electric smart car. I use an electric motor scooter or the bus. Line dry laundry when we can. Compost, organic garden, the works. But idiotically enough, being green costs a lot of money.


Shill (n): One who poses as a satisfied customer or an enthusiastic gambler to dupe bystanders into participating in a swindle.

You can't just call everyone who disagrees with you a shill. You can disagree with them without accusing them of being dishonest.


How is this argument any different from the "ethical oil" bullshit that the Canadian oil industry and their cronies parrot all the time in Canada?

"Either they buy it from us or they buy it from those evil Saudis!"

We can't control what other people do. We can only control what we do. This is such a hyper-conservative argument, it's the inversion of "if we don't do it, someone else will".


Hyperbole much?
I know this might be hard to believe, but there was food, and clothing , and houses before WWII.
Facts, petroleum and it byproducts are going to run out. They are harmful to the enviornment. The time has com to abandon the old ways for newer greener ones.


In every battle to protect the 99%, nurses will be found in large numbers.

Not only have they chosen a life of dedication and healing, they back it up even further.

Thank you Ms. Burger.


Yes, you have to stop it from happening in the first place. You can't regulate things like fracking because the US is a "better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission" society and the corporations are the worst. Regulation is all about 'after the fact' when the damage has already been done. You have to prevent it.


Posted these in another thread where the discussion came up. Worth watching.


Please stop fracking the Earth; this is my Planet, too.


Um, I live here too, and even though it is intense and only the Saudis have been able to slow it down, I hardly think it's the "most" anything yet. From what I've read and seen of the Bakken development and the fields in Texas, we haven't yet descended into that particular circle of hell. So much for other's tendency to exaggeration, though this author should have resisted the urge to throw in everything including the kitchen sink. Her most important point and the thought that was my constant nagging companion as I worked in this gas boom was that, this is precisely the wrong thing to be doing.

I believe Bernie's recent emphasis on this is a shrewd if obvious tactic for NY, the only State to have a moratorium on fracking - to this point. He's drawing a very sharp contrast between Clinton and himself in front of a fairly wide State consensus that made that politically possible. It hardly matters in the context of the Republicans; Hillary asks whether Bernie is a Democrat, the Repubs will question whether he is even American. Should Sanders be the one there will never have been such a clear-cut choice for POTUS in our lifetimes. Should it be Clinton, she will crawl closer and closer to her opponent's positions for approval, like she is doing now. This is what she does, this is what she is.

I believe Sanders means what he says. It will be better to negotiate from that starting point to enact and enforce the regulation regimen you suggest, than by continuing to haggle from the centrist position which surrenders much negotiation advantage long before the handshake. Case in point - the ACA.


Bernie is absolutely right, fracking is a growing disaster for many reasons, and by the time the "proof" is in, it may be too late!

It seems to me Hillary in campaign/debates often promises "to regulate" or "look at" or "look into" issues related to industries/sectors that are part of the 1%, her words are so nuanced and evasive she can easily wriggle out of any such "promise" or "look into". They say "talks cheap" and Hillary ties and advocacy for fracking while SoS and campaign-contributions or 'donations" to The Clinton Foundation mean Hillary can't be trusted to protect the public from the fracking menace!


Unfortunately, about 90% of gas wells today rely on fracking. There used to be big pockets of natural gas here that we could tap in to, but no more. Just over half of all American households rely on natural gas for heat. Not just heat but many homes and businesses use it for cooking. It's what we make fertilizer out of, and most of our hydrogen, and many other things.

Then there's the fact that gas has been replacing coal which in almost every way is far worse than gas for both health and the environment. By one estimate air pollution from coal burning kills over 20,000 Americans a year and over a million worldwide. Not to mention mountain top removal, coal ash disasters, black lung, mercury, and thousands of miles of acid poisoned streams (and that's just here in Pennsylvania).

Whether we like fracking isn't the point. For the time being we need it because we need natural gas. We also need to make its extraction and use safer and do it better, and there are many ways we could be doing that. Even including doing less of it. Some we already are but there are many more.