During the most recent CNN democratic presidential primary debate, Amy Klobuchar was asked why she hasn’t come out in support of a federal ban on hydraulic fracking like most of the other candidates have. The senator from Minnesota reaffirmed her stance in support of continued fracking, stating that natural gas will be important as a transition fuel as we move toward a more sustainable energy structure. Her response is pathetic, and no voter supporting climate action should take Klobuchar seriously.
Hydraulic fracking is a process used to harvest natural gas for use as energy, particularly for heating homes. It utilizes highly pressurized water to drill deep into the Earth and extract gas deposits. The drilling water is laced with hundreds of carcinogenic chemicals and runs the risk of poisoning groundwater sources. Moreover, the force used and the invasiveness of the process is linked to increased frequency of earthquakes and the burning of natural gas emits carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, accelerating the climate crisis. The severity of these effects makes it clear that fracking must be eliminated as a source of energy as soon as possible.
Klobuchar demonstrated her lack of knowledge of the science behind fracking and the challenges that come with its use. The senator stated at the debate that she understands the danger of methane pollution, but she is clearly far from an expert. Natural gas is methane, and extraction represents the largest source of methane emissions in the country. Methane is a particularly dangerous greenhouse gas, as it has an average global warming potential (GWP) of 30, meaning it is 30 times more effective at trapping energy and warming the planet’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas is a compelling argument for the country to reduce emissions of it as quickly as possible.
Klobuchar’s support of fracking may have something to do with how she finds funding for her political campaigns. Delta Airlines is Klobuchar’s largest financial supporter, followed closely by the Dorsey and Whitney law firm and Cargill, Incorporated. Airlines are some of the largest consumers of dirty energy in the world, with hundreds of flights a day burning thousands of gallons of jet fuel. Dorsey and Whitney represents firms in every corner of the energy market including coal, oil and natural gas. Above the other two, the most concerning source of funding is Cargill, Incorporated. Cargill is America’s largest corporation and has been involved in export and import of natural gas from Canada for many years.
Her stance on fracking isn’t surprising considering the fact that Klobuchar is directly funded by members of the fossil fuel industry. She has never pretended to be a progressive, but this is entirely inexcusable. Climate change is the biggest issue of our time and for decades to come; long transitional periods and hesitation are the death warrants of future generations. Time is running out and the world can no longer afford to debate on this issue — immediate, aggressive action must be taken.
Klobuchar’s stance is further puzzling as she has cosponsored the Green New Deal as proposed by Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her stated support for continued fracking is in direct opposition to the goals of the Green New Deal, which aims to transition all electricity and transportation to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Amy Klobuchar’s pro-fracking stance is more than troubling, some may even say it is disqualifying. Climate change is the most important issue of our time and accepting donations from companies with links to fossil fuel production and trade is entirely unacceptable. Fracking’s impacts to the environment and public health go beyond climate change and Klobuchar’s support for continued use of the strategy is reprehensible.