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Joe Biden said he would "transition away from the oil industry."

Joe Biden said he would "transition away from the oil industry."

Washington, October 27 - Neftegaz.RU. Joe Biden is confronting the harsh political realities of combating climate change. The Democratic presidential nominee has spent months touting a $2 trillion plan to boost investment in clean energy and stop all climate-damaging emissions from the U.S. economy by 2050. The plan implied that he would wean the U.S. off oil and gas, but Biden wasn't so explicit about the industry's fate - until Thursday night.

During the final moments of the presidential debate, Biden said he would "transition away from the oil industry." President Donald Trump, trailing Biden in many national and battleground state polls, immediately sensed an opportunity to appeal to voters in competitive states like Texas and Pennsylvania that produce oil and gas.

"Basically what he is saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry," Trump said. "Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that, Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?" With less than 2 weeks until the election, Biden's comment is prompting a sudden test of whether voters who increasingly say they are worried about the climate crisis will embrace steps to confront it.

Even some Democrats distanced themselves from Biden's comment. Kendra Horn, a Democrat who flipped a Republican seat in Trump-loyal Oklahoma in 2018, tweeted: "We must stand up for our oil and gas industry." So did Xochitl Torres Small, a first-term Democratic congresswoman in a tossup race in New Mexico, in the oil- and gas-rich Permian Basin.

Biden, who has mostly been disciplined in keeping the focus on Trump, seemed to sense the political peril. Shortly after the debate, he told reporters he wasn't talking about any kind of fossil fuel ban. "We're not getting rid of fossil fuels for a very long time," he said.

Biden's energy plan spells out the time frame - 3 decades, zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions, which realistically would require substantially cutting fossil fuel use, by 2050.

Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, told reporters that he wouldn't ban fracking, the technique used to extract natural gas. "Let's be clear: What Joe was talking about was banning subsidies, but he will not ban fracking in America." Biden has said he would ban new gas and oil permits - including fracking - on federal lands only. The vast majority of oil and gas does not come from federal lands.

National polls show Americans are increasingly skeptical of fracking. And even in Pennsylvania, voters in the suburbs and other spots have spoken out against the drilling and against massive gas pipelines.

But Biden's call to end subsidies for the oil and gas industry may be politically popular. Biden must try to thread the needle in explaining his calls for a transition away from fossil fuels without an outright ban, Yost said.

Improving technology and falling prices mean renewables already are making huge gains in the marketplace. Solar, wind and other clean energy will surpass coal and nuclear next year in the share of U.S. electricity they produce, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says.

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