Fracking was an issue in the last election, with Republicans accusing Biden of planning to end it and Biden defending himself by asserting he had no such plans. This is unfortunate. The planet-destroying reactionaries steered the conversation onto their turf and away from the brutal reality that if we want to survive as a species, one small thing we must do is stop fracking. A new book on fracking country in Pennsylvania, Up to Heaven and Down to Hell, elucidates the peculiar ways politics, culture and the law have affected fracking in the U.S. I caught up with the author, New York University professor Colin Jerolmack, with questions about this.
Ottenberg: The first thing that came to my mind when I finished the book, where you’ve done all this research for “Up to Heaven and Down to Hell,” and spent time there and lived in fracking country – do you think Biden should ban fracking and what does that mean with regard to 100 companies causing 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas, over the last 30 years?
Jerolmack: The first thing to make clear is that Biden can’t ban fracking in most places. He can only ban fracking on public land, which, in America, more than two thirds of fracking occurs on private land. And the only way that fracking can be banned on private land is either at the state level or through congressional action. What he can do is ban new leases on public land. And he’s put a moratorium on them and if you asked me should he turn that into a ban, yes, absolutely. It’s clear that to get even close to meeting our targets for emissions reductions to prevent planetary warming at the catastrophic level, we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground.