Axios' Amy Harder reports: The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was a featured topic and assumed as a fact.
The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. history that climate change was a pre-scheduled segment at a presidential debate, although the topic has gotten more air time lately.
- It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front burner.
Flashback: Until now, climate change either was wholly absent from presidential general elections or debate was fleetingly focused on whether or not it is real — it is and humans are the driving factor, most scientists agree.
Our thought bubble: It’s a (good) sign that politics has finally caught up with reality and the debate didn’t focus on whether or not climate change is real.
- But, it's important to note that Trump has largely denied the science and hired people with similar views to run the federal government, which is having a major impact on policy.
The intrigue: Moderator Kristen Welker of NBC asked how the candidates would create jobs while also tackling climate change.
- She also asked about environmental justice, which aims to address the disproportional burdens placed on communities of color and the poor, such as living close to polluting facilities.
1. Trump asked Biden whether he would “close down the oil industry.”
- Biden said, “I would transition from the oil industry ... because the oil industry pollutes significantly," which incited Trump to remark, “That’s a big statement.”
- Quick take: Expect this to come back again in the remainder of the campaign.
2. The candidates’ sparring over whether Biden opposes fracking made another appearance. This cued Welker to ask whether Biden would rule out banning fracking.
- Biden responded: “I do rule out banning fracking.” He said he would ban fracking of oil and gas on federal lands.
- Quick take: Actually, his plan bans new leasing of oil and gas on federal lands (not current production).
Between the lines: When gasoline prices are high, that’s pretty much the only thing politicians will talk about when it comes to energy policy. With low prices, it affords the political room to talk about longer term problems like climate change.