What are Sanders and Clinton’s Positions on Fracking?

At a recent CNN debate in Flint, Michigan, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred on a range of environmental issues, including a hot-button issue for many in her party’s base: fracking. While Sanders’ response was brief and unequivocal—“No, I do not support fracking”—Clinton’s required a bit more explanation.

Clinton gave a list of conditions that would have to be met in order for her to support hydraulic fracturing—including full disclosure of chemicals used, pollution controls and local approval for any projects.

“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 said.

WATCH: Clinton and Sanders on Fracking

This was a stronger stance than Clinton has taken in the past. As Secretary of State, she supported fracking as a way to get the U.S. off of foreign oil and gas and encouraged America’s allies to do the same.

So what’s behind Clinton’s tough talk on fracking?

Terry Madonna, a pollster at Franklin and Marshall University, says—check the calendar. It’s primary season. And Democratic primary voters are much more liberal than voters in the general election.

“It’s another one of the positions that Hillary Clinton has moved further to the left,” she says.

Reporting by Reid Frazier

 

Risks from Oil Train Accidents Are Greater for People of Color

Millions of Pennsylvanians live within the likely evacuation zone of a potential oil train accident. But according to a new study from the group PennEnvironment, people of color and low-income communities are shouldering a larger share of the risk.

The study looked at oil train routes in Philadelphia, Reading, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. And some of the discoveries in Pittsburgh were particularly telling.

“If you are not white, you are more than twice as likely to live in the oil train blast zone than if you are white,” says PennEnvironment’s Zoë Cina-Sklar. “And if you are also living in a low-income community—and are a person of color—then you are over three times as likely to live in that blast zone than if you are white.”

LISTEN: “Your Environment Update for March 9, 2016”

Cina-Sklar says the study provides a new perspective on the ongoing conversations about the complex realities of racism in the U.S.

“This is a story that I think ties into stories in Flint, Michigan and ties into stories across the country where the negative impacts of environmental contamination and of industrial processes are a heavy burden on communities of color,” she says.

Cina-Sklar says the fact that the negative impacts of oil trains are so unequal should be another reason for swift and determined action by officials at all levels of government. She says small steps, like lowering speed limits for trains through cities and fixing aging infrastructure, will help mitigate risk. But larger changes—like rerouting trains around high-population areas—are required to ensure safety.

Reporting by Kara Holsopple