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Town hall video doesn’t prove Harris lied about fracking during debate

October 8, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: A video of Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris telling a voter she supports a fracking ban shows that she lied on the debate stage Wednesday night when she said Joe Biden would not ban fracking.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing Context. The video is from a town hall in September 2019, when Harris was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. As a primary candidate, her platform included banning fracking. As Biden’s vice presidential pick, she is bound to his platform, which does not include a ban on fracking. 

THE FACTS: At Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris repeatedly fended off claims from Vice President Mike Pence that her administration would ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and destroy good jobs in the process.

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“They want to abolish fossil fuels and ban fracking, which would cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs all across the Heartland,” Pence said.

“Joe Biden will not end fracking,” Harris responded. “He has been very clear about that.”

In the hours after the debate, social media users began sharing the 2019 video that shows Harris telling a voter “there’s no question” she supports banning fracking. Posts claimed the video was proof Harris lied at the debate. 

“She’s up there lying like the internet doesn’t exist,” read one Instagram post viewed nearly 140,000 times.

“Harris is a fracking liar,” read a Twitter post retweeted 1,000 times.

The video shows Harris has changed her position on fracking — but it doesn’t suggest she lied about it. At that Sept. 4, 2019, CNN town hall on climate change, Harris was one of 10 Democrats onstage still vying for the presidential nomination. As Biden’s running mate, she is now tied to his platform.

According to a September AP Fact Check, Biden supports limited restrictions, eliminating only new oil and gas permits, fracking included, on federal land. But most U.S. production is on private land — the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says production on federal land accounted for less than 10% of oil and gas in 2018.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536