There was good news and bad news to report from a campaign stop Donald Trump made this week in New York.
The bad news is that Trump very much wishes to see fracking there, where it is currently banned. The good news? He doesn’t appear to know what he’s talking about.
To paraphrase Donald Trump: Fracking is a form of flowing magic that eliminates state taxes, an easy way to access riches underground that can be stolen from you by other states if you don’t drill first.
It can be dangerous to try to make sense of Trump’s utter nonsense, but let’s forge on nonetheless. Here’s what he told a crowd in Utica:
"Considering the fact that we have the highest taxes in the nation in New York, and we should have no taxes if [New York Governor] Andrew Cuomo, if he took over and... think of it, if they would have allowed a little bit of fracking and taken some of the richness out of the land, which by the way is being sucked away by other states. You know, they don't have state lines underground. You know what that means that means? It just goes down, down, down, we don't get it. You look at what's happened in Pennsylvania with the money they've taken in, you look at what’s happened in Ohio with the money they've taken in. They’re fracking, they're drilling a little bit, they're creating jobs and this place-- it's just so sad to see it, and we had the potential to do it better than anybody. And now it's dissipating. It's dissipating. Because that stuff flows. Do you understand that it flows? And they probably have those little turns, you know they make the turns at the border it goes like this, right. And all of a sudden someday you're not going to have that underground maybe so much. And it's a shame, because you could have had no taxes, you could have had the lowest taxes instead of the highest taxes. and it's very sad.
So, to paraphrase: Fracking is a form of flowing magic that eliminates state taxes, an easy way to access riches underground that can be stolen from you by other states if you don’t drill first. Make sense?
Of course not.
What is fracking?
Fracking is an extreme form of energy extraction, where water and chemicals are blasted into rock formations to free up trapped oil and gas. Contrary to Trump’s gibberish, it has not erased income taxes in other states. According to one researcher, the drilling industry pays Pennsylvania about $200 million in fees; by comparison, the state takes in about $35 billion in tax revenue. Even if Trump was advocating some form of petro-socialism where state governments kept all the revenues from fracking, it will not eliminate taxes.
That could be how fracking works in Trump’s brain. Back in reality, it’s a dirty energy nightmare that has polluted communities while enriching a handful of fossil fuel tycoons and corporations.
What fracking has delivered for residents in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania is indisputably bad: Water contamination, air pollution, the creation of massive amounts of dangerous waste, thousands of leaks and spills, and damage to local quality of life. Fracking is a disaster for climate change too; Leaks of methane gas happen at every step of the process, and methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas in the short term than carbon dioxide.
What does Trump actually know about fracking? Apparently nothing.
The saddest part about fracking—for Trump, that is—is that the window is closing: “It's dissipating. Because that stuff flows. Do you understand that it flows?” It’s hard to know what Trump is attempting to describe—what is the “stuff,” exactly? — but it sounds nothing like fracking. It’s just a guess, but it sounds like he thinks fracking is like inserting a straw underground and sucking from a collective pool of riches: "You know, they don't have state lines underground. You know what that means that means? It just goes down, down, down, we don't get it."
That could be how fracking works in Trump’s brain. Back in reality, it’s a dirty energy nightmare that has polluted communities while enriching a handful of fossil fuel tycoons and corporations. Which, come to think of it, is probably all that Trump really knows about fracking, and why he’s so inclined to support it.