Here’s why AOC’s debate tweet is causing a stir

Last night’s vice presidential debate stirred up plenty of conversations on social media, but one tweet in particular from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gained major traction. The tweet read simply: “Fracking is bad, actually” (via Twitter). If you didn’t watch the debate, you might think she was taking a dig at Mike Pence, but in reality AOC was referring to the following statement made by vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris: “I will repeat, and the American people will know, Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact. That is a fact” (via New York Post).

Ocasio-Cortez, a consistent advocate for environmental policy reform and author of the Green New Deal, who serves as a co-chair on the Biden campaign’s climate task force, didn’t hesitate to call her fellow Democrat out on the statement, likely in part because Harris supported the banning of fracking during her presidential campaign (via The Hill). During the debate, Pence also took the opportunity to attempt to tie Harris’ policy stances during her presidential bid to those of Joe Biden, stating “You yourself said on multiple occasions when you were running for president that you would ban fracking,” while ignoring the fact that Harris and Biden differed on multiple issues while running against each other for the Democratic nomination, including trade and Medicare (via The Wall Street Journal).

The divisive response to AOC's tweet

The public’s divided opinion on fracking is more than clear in the responses to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet. Many users agreed with her statement, bringing up the devastating environmental effects of fracking such as earthquakes, sinkholes, and dangerous chemicals leaking into water supplies and adding to air pollution, while on the other side, users brought up the negative impact on jobs, which are already suffering due to the pandemic, and the country’s energy independence. 

Two of the top replies to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet show the stark divide on this controversial issue; the first stating: “Tell that to 10 million energy workers….” which gained 2.2 thousand likes (via Twitter). The second, a reply to that reply, reads: “I literally don’t care about their jobs, they can get new jobs. We can *make* new jobs with a GND. We can’t make a new planet,” and gained 2.5 thousand likes (via Twitter).

Despite the opposition from members of their own party, the moderate clean energy policy of the Biden campaign is likely a strategic choice to avoid alienating voters in states that depend on the economic benefits of fracking, particularly swing states like Pennsylvania (via The Independent).

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