Polls show that voters in Pennsylvania support measures to reduce climate change and regulate fracking.
At the second and last presidential debate Thursday night, Donald Trump repeatedly implied that former Vice President Joe Biden's position on fracking would lose him the must-win state of Pennsylvania.
Polls continue to show that Trump is the one in trouble with voters in the state.
In the midst of a response to a question about health care, Trump pivoted to the issue of fracking.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process of drilling into the ground and injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals, and sand into the borehole to blast open small fissures in shale rock below to release gas held in the rock. Critics say the environmental dangers of fracking, including potential chemical contamination and seismic activity, should require that the practice be banned.
There are currently 7,788 active fracking sites in Pennsylvania run by 66 operators, according to NPR's State Impact website.
Trump has badgered Biden over the issue of fracking many times. At the debate on Thursday, he said of Biden: "'We're not going to have fracking. We're going to stop fracking. We're going to stop fracking.' Then he goes to Pennsylvania after he gets a nomination, where he got very lucky to get it. And he goes to Pennsylvania, and he says, 'Oh, we're going to have fracking.'"
Trump returned to the subject later in the debate, claiming: "'I am against fracking.' Until he got the nomination, he went to Pennsylvania. Then he said, 'But you know what, Pennsylvania?' He'll be against it very soon because his party is totally against it."
Biden said: "Fracking on federal land. I said, no fracking and/or oil on federal land."
Biden responded to Trump's claims: "I do rule out banning fracking because the answer we need, we need other industries to transition, to get to ultimately a complete zero emissions by 2025. What I will do with fracking over time is make sure that we can capture the emissions from the fracking, capture the emissions from gas. We can do that and we can do that by investing money in doing it, but it's a transition to that."
Although Trump appears to think that trying to corner Biden over the issue of fracking is a winning strategy for him, polls show that voters in Pennsylvania support measures to reduce climate change and regulate fracking.
According to the results of a poll conducted in mid-August for Climate Power 2020, an independent project focused on political strategies to fight the climate crisis, "The research shows that not only are Pennsylvania voters supportive of climate action and additional regulations on hydraulic fracturing ('fracking'), engaging in a debate around fracking and climate clearly helps Joe Biden, strengthening his favorability rating and increasing his lead over President Donald Trump in the state. "
The poll found that an overwhelming 83% of Pennsylvania voters think climate change is a serious problem; 58% have a negative view of lawmakers who oppose taking measures to fight it; 73% support "the U.S. government taking bold action to combat climate change"; and 74% support plans to move the U.S. to 100% clean electricity by 2035.
By a 20-point margin (60%-40%) statewide, voters support investments in renewable energy over tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas.
In a state Trump won by 0.7% in 2016, polls released this week by Quinnipiac University, Suffolk University, CNN, and even the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports show his Pennsylvania-born opponent in the lead heading into the Nov. 3 election by an average of 6.2 points.
Trump has tried to enlist labor in his constant harping on Biden's supposed plans concerning fracking and the Green New Deal.
He has repeated the unsupported claim that a Biden administration would shut down the energy sector and throw its employees out of work, telling a rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 22: "There'll be no more oil, there'll be no more gas, there'll be no more nothing, there'll be no more industry, there'll be no more country, that's what it's saying really. And that would instantly shut down all fracking and all mining immediately in Pennsylvania, sending your jobs overseas, sending your money to somebody else, not you."
He added, "I'll keep your jobs in Pennsylvania where they belong and you're going to be doing fracking for a long time."
Meanwhile, however, Biden accepted the endorsement of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and the International Union of Operating Engineers, two labor unions representing nearly a million workers. Labor leaders in Pennsylvania spoke of the damage Trump has caused to working families, with Bill Sproule of the Eastern Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "What we're trying to explain is that union labor, working families cannot withstand another four years of assaults on the middle class."
Data shows that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate has risen on Trump's watch from 333,000 people unemployed (5.2%) in January 2017 to around 518,000 (8.1%) in September of this year.
"In 2019, Pennsylvania wind and solar employed 2,815 and 4,219 people respectively, more than either coal or natural gas plants," Food & Water Watch reported last month.
Trump has been reduced to begging voters for their support, telling the crowd at a campaign rally in Johnston, Pennsylvania, earlier in the month: "So can I ask you to do me a favor? Suburban women, will you please like me, please, please? I saved your damn neighborhood, OK? The other thing, I don't have that much time to be that nice. You know, I can do it, but I gotta go quickly. We don't have that much time."
Polls show that Trump's pitch to older voters in the state is not working either, with a Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters conducted Oct. 1-5 indicating that 58% of voters above retirement age support Biden, while 39% back Trump.
And Trump is not hiding his lack of enthusiasm for the state itself. This week, during a rally in Erie, he told supporters he didn't really want to be there but was forced to come by the pandemic.
"Before the plague came in, I had it made. I wasn't coming to Erie. I have to be honest. There was no way I was coming. I didn't have to," Trump said. "We had this thing won, we were so far up, we had the greatest economy ever, greatest jobs, greatest everything. And then we got hit with the plague and I had to go back to work. Hello, Erie, can I please have your vote?"