During the final presidential debate on Thursday, Joe Biden pledged to transition away from fossil fuels. The statement caused alarm for many who are worried about the economic impact of losing the energy industry, and the potential devastation on the labor force.
Following the debate, the campaign and Biden himself "clarified" his comments about the oil industry that drew ire.
"By the way, I have a transition from the oil industry, yes," Biden said during the presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee.
President Donald Trump immediately became giddy about Biden's revelation by saying, "Oh, that's a big statement."
The Democratic presidential nominee responded, "I will transition. It is a big statement," which was echoed by Trump, "That's a big statement."
Debate moderator Kristen Welker asked Biden, "Why would you do that?"
He responded, "Because the oil industry pollutes, significantly. It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time, and I'd stop giving to the oil industry, I'd stop giving them federal subsidies."
Trump pounced on Biden's statement, "He is going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma?"
Biden claimed that President Trump doesn't give federal subsidies to the solar and wind industries.
Trump fired back, "We actually give it to solar and wind."
A fact-check by WUSA said Biden's claim that Trump "won't give federal subsidies to solar and wind" was false.
"There are currently tax credits available to both the wind and solar industry — like the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for Wind," WUSA stated. "It offers tax credits per kilowatt-hour for 'utility-scale wind.' It was actually extended under the Trump administration in December last year."
When President @realDonaldTrump asks Joe Biden if he would close down the oil industry, Biden responds, “yes”… https://t.co/BLyrj8Oqnk— RNC Research (@RNC Research) 1603421038.0
The internet reacted to Biden's statement that he would transition the United States away from the oil industry.
"Biden wants to 'transition' away from the oil industry. He just killed paycheck earned by hardworking families in Texas. Joe just wants to transition away from Texas. Remember that on election day," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wrote on Twitter.
"Hey Texas and Pennsylvania, @JoeBiden just admitted he would transition from the oil industry, effectively killing an estimated 11 million jobs," Rick Perry, Trump's former energy secretary and a former governor of Texas, said.
Nikki Haley, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said, "I thought @realDonaldTrump was strong last night. Stark differences between Biden and Trump: free enterprise vs socialism, energy independence vs getting rid of oil and fracking, health care options vs govt run healthcare. Strong foreign policy vs buying friends."
Kendra Horn, a Democratic House candidate in the oil-rich state of Oklahoma, disagreed with Biden, "We must stand up for our oil and gas industry. We need an all-of-the-above energy approach that's consumer friendly, values energy independence, and protects OK jobs. I'll keep fighting for that in Congress."
"If Biden gets in, not only will he destroy the Oil & Gas industry (and millions of American jobs and lives), we can all say goodbye to these unbelievably good gas prices," Eric Trump tweeted. "Don't forget the nearly $5 per gallon we were paying under O'Biden."
"What this translates to is hundreds of thousands of jobs gone in the blink of an eye. This is dangerous. It puts the prosperity of countless Americans at risk, and we cannot allow it to happen," George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush, and grandson of former President George H. W. Bush, said.
In 2019, traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors employed about 6.8 million Americans, roughly 4.6% of the U.S. workforce, according to a report from the Energy Futures Initiative and National Association of State Energy Officials.
Following the debate, before boarding a plane home, Biden tried to clean up his oil comment.
"We're not getting rid of fossil fuels," Biden said. "We're getting rid of the subsidies for fossil fuels, but we're not getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time."
When asked if dismantling the U.S. oil industry would cost millions of American jobs, Biden replied, "Well, they're not going to lose their jobs. … And, besides, there are a lot more jobs that are going to be created in other alternatives."
The Biden campaign tried to walk back the vice president's comment on oil from the debate. Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager and communications director, attempted to "clarify" Biden's remarks.
"Biden's team seeks to clarify Biden's remarks on the oil industry, with @KBeds saying that Biden was referring to ending oil subsidies," according to Washington Post reporter Annie Linskey.
Biden was also grilled by President Trump over his past comments that showed that he was against fracking. Biden said he doesn't want to ban fracking, but fact-checkers found a history of Biden being opposed to fracking and wanting to phase it out.
Emails allegedly from Hunter Biden's laptop and reported text messages from one of his business partners, allege that Joe Biden was involved in a "lucrative" venture with a Chinese energy corporation, which named "crude oil and natural gas" as the "major drivers" of the company's revenue.