All of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential contenders have said they would work to ban the practice of using hydraulic fracture techniques — “fracking” — to extract oil and natural gas, but a Russia expert testifying before the House impeachment inquiry on Thursday said that would play into Vladimir Putin’s hands.
“In November 2011, I actually sat next to Vladimir Putin in a conference in which he made precisely that point,” Dr. Fiona Hill said in response to questioning from Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas).
“It was the first time that he had actually done so to a group of American journalists and experts who were brought to something called the Valdai Discussion Club. So he started in 2011 making it very clear that he saw American fracking as a great threat to Russian interests,” Hill continued.
Hill added that everyone in attendance noted how much Putin stressed the issue at the time.
The Russian president has continued to oppose American fracking because it has transformed the U.S. into the world’s top oil and gas producer, which has reduced Russia’s influence in the global energy market, the Free Beacon reported.
In addition, fracking has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is favored by advocates of climate change.
However, six of 10 Democratic presidential contenders — including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) — have said they would support a fracking ban because they say it is having a negative impact on the environment in other ways.
“Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling and extraction method for obtaining oil and gas from underground shale rocks, using a high-pressure fluid mixture to break them apart,” the Free Beacon reported. “It has drawn criticism from environmental activists, who claim it causes pollution, contaminates drinking water, lowers nearby property values, and causes earthquakes.”
Earlier studies have shown that a fracking ban, which isn’t likely even under a Democrat president, would cause energy and living prices to spike, make the U.S. more dependent on often volatile countries for energy needs, and cause millions of job losses.