Mar 16, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Clearing up the Biden-Bernie fracking tussle at the debate

joe biden and bernie sanders with a globe
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Getty Images photos: Ethan Miller and Brian Blanco

There was a lot of confusion Sunday night about whether Joe Biden made a big change in his energy platform during his debate with Bernie Sanders. He didn't.

What happened: At one point during his exchange on climate policy with Bernie Sanders, Biden said "no new fracking." That raised antennae about whether he was going beyond his existing vow to end new oil-and-gas permitting on federal lands and waters.

  • But his campaign later clarified that Biden was re-stating his existing platform about policy on federal lands, not endorsing Sanders' call for a nationwide ban.

The big picture: Biden's overall plan would go much further than Obama-era policies, but it's also less aggressive in scope and cost than Sanders' $16 trillion Green New Deal proposal.

  • Last night, Biden defended his plan as ambitious and at one point talked up his ability to bolster international climate diplomacy.
  • Sanders, however, called Biden's plan "nowhere near enough" in light of the problem's size.

Go deeper: The energy stakes of Bernie vs. Biden

Go deeper