Mar 16, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Clearing up the Biden-Bernie fracking tussle at the debate

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

Joe Biden is facing closer scrutiny of his climate plans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The apparent end of the Democratic primary's truly competitive phase will bring closer scrutiny of Joe Biden's climate and energy plans — and new efforts to change them.

The state of play: Bernie Sanders yesterday suggested that his mission in remaining in the race is pushing Biden left, and he name-checked climate change among the policy areas.

The energy stakes of Bernie vs. Biden

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios; Photos: Ethan Miller and Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Super Tuesday means it's the first primaries in the oil patch, so it's a good time to compare Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who are battling for frontrunner status in the Democratic primary.

Why it matters: They have important differences on energy and climate policy, although both would restrict development and take a more adversarial posture toward fossil fuel industries than President Trump.

4 takeaways from the Biden-Sanders Democratic debate

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The last time former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders took the debate stage, eight candidates were still competing for the nomination, Biden's campaign looked to be on its last legs, and the coronavirus epidemic was the subject of just one question from moderators.

The state of play: The world has changed dramatically since Feb. 25. Bumping elbows and standing the CDC-recommended six feet apart in a CNN studio without an audience, the two candidates, both septuagenarians, sparred over their visions for an America paralyzed by a global health crisis.