Bernie Sanders has a new addition to his campaign speech. Speaking to crowds around New York state and Pennsylvania in the last week, the progressive Democratic candidate has ratcheted up his focus on environmental issues, specifically talking at length about his opposition to fracking.
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Last fall, Sanders introduced during sweeping legislation to ban the extract of any fossil fuels on federal lands, but in Binghamton, New York on Monday, the Vermont senator went even further, proposing a national ban on the controversial natural shale gas extraction technology.
“In my view, if we are serious about safe and clean drinking water, if we are serious about clean air,” he said. “If we are serious about combating climate change, we need to put an end to fracking not only in New York and Vermont, but all over this country.”
Last year, after a significant activist movement, New York prohibited fracking despite the state’s large shale gas resources. The issue works in Sanders favors in two ways, as both a way to contrast his record with his primary opponent as well as highlight recent successes of grassroots organization.
“I want to applaud you for standing up to Governor [Andrew] Cuomo,” Sanders told his fans in upstate New York. “What may have been considered unrealistic or pie in the sky just a few years ago has now been achieved in New York because you made it happen.”
The senator has argued that his policy agenda would only be achievable through increased grassroots activism and political involvement.
In Binghamton, Sanders was introduced by one of the nation’s leading frack-tivists, filmmaker Josh Foxx, who made a name for himself with his politically-charged documentary about fracking called "GasLand." Foxx argued that there was only one candidate who genuinely opposed the practice.
While Hillary Clinton has pledged to limited fracking during her presidential campaign and advocated for sticker standards for the industry, as Secretary of State she supported the technology as a potential method for reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Sanders has accused Clinton having a poor record on the issue and at each of his events Monday reminded his crowds that Clinton on occasion advocated for the introduction and expansion of shale gas extraction in other countries as well.
Emphasizing the difference between himself and Clinton on the issues, Sanders’ campaign released a new 30- second ad Monday too, narrated by another celebrity backer of his, Susan Sarandon.
"They sure do, because Big Oil pumps millions into their campaigns. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate for president who opposes fracking everywhere,” Sarandon says in the ad.