By C. Eugene Emery and Lauren Carroll
The weekend before the first presidential debate, Donald Trump went to Roanoke, Virginia, to talk about energy.
“Here, in Virginia, we are going to end the war on American energy and on our miners. Hillary Clinton says she wants to put the miners out of work,” Trump said. “Clinton and Kaine also want to shut down shale, and shut down natural gas.”
Does Trump have his facts right on energy policy? PunditFact decided to look into what Trump said about shale and natural gas. We’ll also provide context about what Clinton said about putting miners out of work.
Shale has become a dominant source of fossil fuels in the United States, thanks to a controversial process known as fracking. It wrings natural gas out of bedrock in a process that was once considered not profitable for extracting oil or natural gas. The process is efficient enough that the country's dependence on petroleum imports has declined precipitously.
Supporters note that burning natural gas produces far less pollution than other types of fossil fuel. Critics say the process can cause earthquakes, water contamination, and the unwanted release of methane, a gas renowned for trapping heat, which makes it a big player in climate change.
Does the Clinton team want to shut down fracking and natural gas? No, but Clinton wants to regulate it more. So Trump’s claim rates Half True.
When we contacted the Trump campaign, spokesman Jeff Wood sent us to a transcript of the Democratic presidential debate in Flint, Michigan, where Clinton and her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, were asked whether they supported fracking.
“I don’t support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one,” Clinton said. “I don’t support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present. I don’t support it—number three—unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using.”
“So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” she continued. (Sanders opposes fracking.)
Clinton supported fracking as secretary of state, promoting it for Latin America, China, India, and the European Union. She characterized natural gas as a “bridge” between dirty fuels, and said it was a way to get countries away from Russian oil.
In the United States, only a minority of states have banned fracking. Vermont was the first in 2012, and New York followed in 2014. Maryland has a moratorium on the practice through next year. Some municipalities have banned it as well.
When it comes to disclosing the chemicals used in the process, most of the states where fracking takes place require some level of disclosure. According to the American Chemical Society, 26 of the 28 states have disclosure rules, though some have exceptions for company trade secrets.
Mining jobs in context
Trump said Clinton said she wants to put miners out of work. Clinton has acknowledged that she said something to that effect, but she also apologized.
“I don’t know how to explain it other than what I said was totally out of context for what I meant because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time,” Clinton said on May 2. “It was a misstatement because what I was saying is the way things are going now, they will continue to lose jobs. It didn’t mean that we were going to do it. What I said is that is going to happen unless we take action to help and prevent it.”
Clinton made the comment during a March 13 CNN Town Hall. Journalist Roland Martin asked, in effect, why poor white people should vote for her.
In her response, Clinton did say she would be putting coal companies out of business, as a result of moving toward renewable energy sources. But she followed that by saying she wanted to create new economic opportunities for coal workers, possibly spurred by clean energy development.
“I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” Clinton said. “And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.
“Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.”
Read the full fact-checks at PunditFact.com.