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Sen. Toomey resolution would stop presidents from banning fracking

Bob Bauder
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Sen. Pat Toomey speaks at Peoples Natural Gas offices on the North Shore, Nov. 15.
1948985_web1_ptr-toomeyfrack02-111619----U.S.-Senator-Pat-Toomey
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Sen. Pat Toomey speaks at Peoples Natural Gas offices on the North Shore, Nov. 15.
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
1948985_web1_ptr-toomeyfrack01-111619----U.S.-Senator-Pat-Toomey
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey on Friday said he felt duty-bound to introduce a resolution that would prevent presidents from banning fracking on state and private land.

Toomey, who outlined his resolution to media at Peoples Gas headquarters on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, said three Democratic presidential candidates have stated they would ban fracking if elected president in 2020.

“Basically Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris are all promising to use executive powers to shut down this whole industry. This is no exaggeration,” Toomey said. “I think Congress has to stand up for the working people of America, for the consumers of America, and push back against these really radical ideas that would be very bad for our constituents.”

Messages sent to the campaigns for Warren, Sanders and Harris were not returned. Their stances on fracking are related to positions on stopping climate change.

In September, Warren tweeted that on her first day as president, she would ban fracking everywhere. She also released a plan to move the U.S. toward 100% clean energy.

“Taking bold action to confront the climate crisis is as important — and as urgent — as anything else the next president will face. We cannot wait,” Warren wrote in a post on Medium.

Sanders has said that any plan to avert climate change must include a ban on fracking on public and private lands. Harris, in addition to supporting a ban on fracking, has said that she would instruct the Department of Justice to investigate oil and gas companies that she claims directly contribute to global warming.

Harris told a CNN town hall that she would “take them to court and sue them.”

Toomey said he also supports legislation that would prevent states such as New York from using the U.S. Clean Water Act to stop the construction of interstate natural gas pipelines.

“I think it’s very hard to overstate how good natural gas has been for Pennsylvania and for America,” he said. “It’s probably the best thing that’s happened, certainly economically, for Pennsylvania in maybe 100 years.”

Morgan O’Brien, Peoples president and CEO, said the gas industry offers plenty of opportunities.

“We are sitting here in Western Pennsylvania on the largest gas reserve in the world,” he said. “We’ve estimated we can create 100,000 jobs and we can grow the state’s GDP by 10 percent over current projections. We have an incredible opportunity, and if we execute it and do it right we’re looking at, I’d say, our greatest days ahead of us.”

Toomey said his legislation is not related to the presidential election and President Trump’s chances of winning.

“I don’t know who is going to win the upcoming election,” he said. “I think it’s going to be very competitive and very close, but someday there’s going to be a Democratic president. I don’t know which one that might be, and I just think we ought to go on record as soon as possible, making it clear that no president has this authority.”

He said the bill has a good chance of passing the Senate. Chances are less positive in the House.

“One of of the things I’ve learned in my nine years in the Senate is you start wherever the starting point is and you build support and sometimes it takes time to get to point where you get something entirely across the goal line,” he said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-564-3080, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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