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Bloomberg, Warren and Sanders at the Las Vegas debate. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Tonight's Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas laid bare the candidates' differences over fracking as Bernie Sanders defended his push for an outright ban and challenged concerns that it could hurt Democrats politically.

Driving the news: NBC's Chuck Todd asked Sanders what he would tell workers in Pennsylvania, a swing state where natural gas extraction via fracking is a major industry. Todd cited this New York Times piece on the politics of fracking there.

  • Sanders, who is leading in national polls, replied he would tell workers of the need to act "incredibly boldly” in the near future to prevent "irreparable" global damage from climate change.
  • ‘The Green New Deal that I support, by the way, will create up to 20 million good-paying jobs as we move our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” said Sanders.

The other side: Michael Bloomberg, whose has donated heavily to anti-coal and other climate efforts, said he did not support a ban a fracking, the technique that has enabled the decade-plus surge in U.S. oil and natural gas production.

  • “If we enforced some of the rules on fracking so that they don’t release methane into the air and into the water, you will make a big difference, but we are not going to get rid of fracking for a while,” he said.
  • “We want to go to all renewables, but that is still many years from now,” Bloomberg said.

Similarly, Amy Klobuchar referred to natural gas as a "transitional fuel" but said she does not support calls for a ban.

  • “We have to review all of the permits that are out there right now for natural gas and then make decisions on each one of them and then not grant new ones until we make sure that it is safe,” she said.

The big picture: A national ban on fracking — which Sanders and Elizabeth Warren support — is extraordinarily unlikely to get through Congress.

  • But an anti-fracking president could greatly restrict the practice on federal lands.
  • However, the U.S. oil and gas production boom has been centered largely on state and private lands in Texas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Go deeper: A fracking ban could be a dicey proposal for Democrats in 2020

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.