For a brief moment in the debate last night, you might have been able to hear a pin drop when Democratic nominee Joe Biden vowed to "transition from the oil industry," after again claiming he never said he would ban fracking.
Even moderator Kristen Welker seemed stunned as she pivoted back to Biden and asked, "Why would you do that?"
Biden explained that the oil industry "pollutes" significantly, so obviously, he would want to move into "renewable energy." This all came just moments after Biden once again pushed aside accusations from President Trump that he wanted to ban fracking.
Of course, Biden has said many times that he wanted to end fracking, or at least ban leases on federal lands- a move that would cripple the industry and destroy millions of jobs. Perhaps he has not been recorded using the word "ban" in regards to fracking, but his ticket mate Kamala certainly has and many of his surrogates and supporters have advocated for an end to fracking under a potential Biden administration. Biden told Trump to show the tape.
Waffling on a fracking ban is nothing new for Joe Biden. Since he became the Democratic nominee he has dodged his previous comments against fracking in a bid to woo energy industry voters in states like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. His comment about ending oil, however, caught everyone off guard.
Trump first asked Biden why he would "close down" the oil industry. Biden didn't deny that was his intention. He changed the words "close down" to "transition," and confirmed Trump's accusation.
"By the way, I would transition from the oil industry, yes," Biden said.
"That's a big statement," Trump said with a pregnant pause, beckoning oil industry states to listen up to Biden's extreme position. Biden agreed.
"I will transition. It is a big statement," Biden said.
Biden went on to say that he would halt federal subsidies for the oil industry and then threw a wet noodle at the president, falsely accusing him of not allowing subsidies for solar and wind energy.
"And I’d stop giving, to the oil industry, I’d stop giving them federal subsidies,” said Biden. “He won’t give federal subsidies to solar and wind, why are we giving it to oil industry?"
Trump aptly corrected Biden, noting that under his administration, renewable energy does receive federal subsidies.
The conversation wrapped up, but the stunning comment about ending a massive industry and job provider in the United States hung in the air like burnt garlic.
Today, however, the Biden campaign team is attempting damage control, saying that the former vice president didn't literally mean what he actually said.
Biden's team seeks to clarify Biden's remarks on the oil industry, with @KBeds saying that Biden was referring to ending oil subsidies.— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) October 23, 2020
Biden Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield told reporters late last night that the former VP only meant that he intended to end oil subsidies, not the industry itself. This claim made despite Biden's own claim that he would "transition from the oil industry" and that it "pollutes greatly."
Biden also fumbled through his own cleanup attempt while talking to reporters after the debate, saying first that he would not end fossil fuels and then saying it would be a "long time" before he would end fossil fuels.
Asked further about what might happing to the job industry if he went forward with ending fossil fuels, he said that many more jobs would be created in the renewable energy industry to replace the destroyed ones. This claim has repeatedly been busted by leaders in the energy industry.
“But we're not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time,” Biden continued— Matt Viser (@mviser) October 23, 2020
Asked if millions in those industries would lose jobs: “Well, they're not going to lose their jobs. And besides they're gonna...there are a lot more jobs that are gonna be created in other alternatives”
Of course, the media took Biden's complete 180-degree pivot at face value and dutifully reported that he only ever meant ending federal subsidies for oil.