Biden: I Would Transition From the Oil Industry 'Over Time'

Biden: I Would Transition From the Oil Industry 'Over Time'
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the final presidential debate against U.S. President Donald Trump at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

Nearing the end of the second and final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday night, former Vice President Joe Biden said that he would “transition from the oil industry ... over time."

When asked, "Would you close down the oil industry?" by President Donald Trump, the Democratic presidential nominee said, "I would transition from the oil industry, yes."

"Oh, that's a big statement," Trump responded, visibly surprised. Debate moderator NBC's Kristen Welker quickly asked Biden why he would do that.

"Because the oil industry pollutes significantly," Biden said.

"I see. It's a big statement," the president noted.

"Let me finish the statement. Because [the oil industry] has to be replaced by renewable energy over time. And I'd stop giving to the oil industries federal subsidies," Biden said.

He also said that solar and wind doesn't currently get subsidies, and asked, "why are we giving it to the oil industry?"

"We actually do give [subsidies to solar and wind]," Trump responded. "And that's maybe the biggest statement in terms of business. That's the biggest statement, because basically what he's saying is that he's going to destroy the oil industry."

The president then turned to the camera and emphatically said, "Will you remember that, Texas, will you remember that, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Ohio."

Biden was allowed time to respond.

"He takes everything out of context but the point is, look, we have to move toward a net-zero emission," Biden said. "The first place to do that by the year 2035 is in energy production, by 2050, totally."

"Is he going to get China to do it?" Trump chimed in.

"No, I'm going to rejoin the Paris Accord and make China abide by what they agreed to," Biden responded.

"That'll cost you a trillion dollars," the president said, before Welker moved on to the final question of the night.

Earlier in the debate on the topic of climate change and jobs, Biden denied that he would ban fracking, even though Trump noted that Biden has been recorded as saying as such.

Biden said that he would ban "fracking on federal land," later adding that he meant to say "no fracking and/or oil on federal land."

Under President Trump's administration, the United States became an energy independent nation for the first time in more than 50 years, in part due to Trump's tax and regulation cuts. Under the administration, the United States became the world’s top producer of oil and maintained its position as the top global producer of natural gas. The country in 2019 became a net exporter of petroleum (crude oil and refined) products for the first time since 1949, and is on its fourth consecutive year as a net exporter of natural gas.

Biden in late August said that he will not ban fracking. Previously, Biden said at a March democratic primary debate “No more—no new fracking.” Biden’s campaign then said he meant he would not allow new federal land-drilling leases. The Trump campaign said that the Biden campaign was “attempting to walk back his previous statements after realizing voters aren’t happy about his proposal to kill thousands of jobs.”
Trump has openly said that he is “all for fracking” and has frequently touted his administration’s push for U.S. energy independence.

According to the Biden campaign’s website, his climate plan seeks to ensure that the United States “achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050."

Speaking to reporters after the debate, Biden said that he was referring to a plan to stop subsidizing fossil fuels.

"We're getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels. But we're not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time," Biden said after the debate.

"They're not going to lose their jobs. Besides, a lot more jobs are going to be created in other alternatives."

The final debate was much more calm compared to the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, with Trump and Biden having spoken mostly uninterrupted on multiple issues, including health care, race, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and foreign influence.