John Fetterman’s Fracking Flip Flops

February 18, 2021

PA Democrats express disappointment over Lt Gov’s betrayals on fracking


For Immediate Release

BRADDOCK, PA- As he begins his Senate campaign, Democratic elected officials from around Pennsylvania are calling on Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman to fulfill his past promises on fracking and fossil fuel pipelines.

The voices of the elected officials — including State Representative Danielle Friel Otten, East Pittsburgh Borough Councilwoman Stacey Simon, and Northampton County Councilwoman Tara Zrinski — are being highlighted by national environmental group Food & Water Action, which is launching a petition calling for Fetterman to fulfill his past promises to defend communities that are fighting dangerous drilling and pipeline projects.

Fetterman’s political career is marred by broken promises over the issue of fracking. On several occasions, Fetterman promised to stand with the communities fighting the powerful industry, only to abandon those commitments after elections had passed.

In his 2016 Senate campaign, Fetterman signed a pledge supporting a statewide moratorium on fracking. At an April 2016 debate, he criticized the pro-drilling record of a rival candidate, Katie McGinty, saying she “brought fracking to Pennsylvania.”

Fetterman told McGinty: “You can’t have it both ways. There’s no such thing as a green fracker.”

That year, he also supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, saying that the senator’s call for a fracking ban would be a “winning issue” in Pennsylvania.

But during the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, Fetterman took the opposite position, arguing that Democrats who speak out against fracking would lose the state.

“It is disappointing that Fetterman made a commitment to me and communities around Pennsylvania that he would fight to stop fracking, and then turned around and became a staunch supporter of new fracking,” said Northampton County Councilmember Tara Zrinski, who gave Fetterman the fracking ban pledge that he signed in 2016.

In his 2018 campaign for Lieutenant Governor, Fetterman said he supported community leaders’ calls for Governor Tom Wolf to stop the dangerous Mariner East pipeline.

Fetterman also received a guided tour of Mariner East construction in Delaware and Chester Counties. Among his tour guides was State Representative Danielle Friel Otten. “‘No one should have to live in these conditions’ were John Fetterman’s words after he sat in my neighbor’s family room with me and walked through their backyards to see the devastation that Mariner East is having on communities like mine.” said Friel Otten. “Voters in Chester County will need to understand Fetterman’s confusing public positions on fossil fuel expansion, fracking and the suffering that communities are facing in the name of jobs, as he now runs for Senate.”

However, Fetterman never took up the issue in any way, aside from defending Wolf against an FBI ethics investigation centered around his handling of permit approvals.

Fetterman’s reversal on fracking runs close to home. He has supported a hugely unpopular  fracking well proposal in his hometown, even while opposition from local municipalities piles up. The public opposition to this environmentally unjust well has forced state regulators to suspend review of the project.

Local opposition to the proposed fracking well caused East Pittsburgh Borough to rescind driller Merrion Oil & Gas’s permit, which led Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to suspend their review of the proposal. In response, Merrion is threatening East Pittsburgh with an expensive lawsuit.

“East Pittsburgh residents oppose this well, and will continue to despite Merrion’s threats,” said East Pittsburgh Borough Councilwoman Stacey Simon. “It would be very helpful for John Fetterman to voice his support for our community. Unfortunately, thus far he has chosen to stick with the fracking industry.”

Fetterman’s fracking positions could resonate in the state. Recent polling shows that fracking is deeply unpopular with Democratic voters, and new research confirms that the promised jobs benefits linked to fracking in Pennsylvania and Ohio have never materialized.