2020 Candidate Bennet Supports Natural Gas Ahead of Nationwide Fossil Fuel Protests
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) continued his long-standing support for natural gas and leasing on public lands during a climate town hall in Washington, D.C. on Thursday featuring 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Bennet was interviewed by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in front of live audience at Georgetown University as Climate Week kicks off around the country. He made the comments as activists prepare to launch massive protests in Washington, D.C., New York City, Denver, and other cities around the world during the next week.
Pressed by Hayes after saying he “wouldn’t essentially stop” oil and natural gas leasing on public lands, Bennet said natural gas is a key fuel in fighting climate change.
“I think if it is extracted properly, natural gas has a role to play in the transition to renewables,” Bennet said.
Bennet rebuked anti-fossil fuel activists advocating for an immediate ban on natural gas production, saying that move would backfire and increase emissions.
“There are people that don’t make the observation that a massive amount of coal displacement in this country has been the result of natural gas,” Bennet said. “If you’re going to take the position that the answer to our climate issues is banning all fracking now, you have to contend with the lack of coal displacement that would have resulted,” he continued.
Bennet has supported natural gas throughout his time in the Senate. In 2015, Bennet introduced legislation the speed up the approval process of LNG exports, citing Colorado’s record of safely producing natural gas and it’s environmental strengths.
“Colorado has led the way in demonstrating we can produce natural gas safely and in a way that protects drinking water, reduces fugitive methane emissions, and safeguards nearby communities,” Bennet said at the time. “Now we have a huge opportunity to grow this market and increase the use of this cleaner fuel. This bill will support Colorado jobs by helping natural gas producers in our state expand to new overseas markets.”
The head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, recently commented that there is vital strategic importance of strong American energy production, saying that a fracking ban would be harmful to the U.S. economy and national security.
Bennet’s support of natural gas stands in stark contrast to his opponents in the Democratic presidential primary. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris are among the top-tier candidates who have said they would ban fracking on public and private lands.
Other Colorado Democrats have also supported natural gas including former Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“We’ve become one of the best states in the country for natural gas production. We have put the energy needs and costs of hard-working Coloradans before any special interest agenda or false promise,” Hickenlooper said during this 2017 State of the State address.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) has endorsed Hickenlooper’s campaign for Senate.
Bennet has been mired in low-single digit polling throughout his campaign for president and has not yet qualified for the fourth Democratic debate scheduled for next month.