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Clinton relies little on oil, gas money, despite Sanders accusation

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' accusation,reiterated April 3, that Hillary Clinton is in the pocket of big oil and gas ringshollow when compared to contribution data from the Federal Election Commission.The figures showed that the industry accounted for 0.15% of Clinton's contributionsas of March 21.

A look at the data shows that the oil and gas industry mighthave fired its guns prematurely in the 2016 contest, donating nearly $11 millionto Jeb Bush, about six times the amount given to any other candidate, Democrat orRepublican. Bush dropped out of the race in February after losing the South Carolinaprimary, before he could spend all of the $153.6 million he had raised.

Hydraulic fracturing is still a hot-button issue in New York,where the Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, put an end to years of official indecisionand banned the practice in December2014. Despite threats from several communities in the Southern Tierto secede to Pennsylvania,a Quinnipiac University poll immediately following the decision showed that NewYorkers overwhelmingly approved of the ban, 55% to 25%.

Clinton's campaign has received about $333,000 from the oil andgas industry, according to FEC records, but the Vermont senator's comments stickto the rule that "all is fair in love and electoral campaigns," FairleighDickinson University political science professor Peter Woolley said April 4.

Speaking on a CNN Sunday morning talk show April 3, Sanders said,"Let the voters decide whether paid lobbyists who represent the fossil fuelindustry, 43 of them, gave maximum contributions to the Clinton campaign and whetheror not these same people are out in some cases bundling, trying to bring in evenmore money."

"The expectations of the president are so overblown,"with opinions demanded on everything, even if the issue, like hydraulic fracturing,does not fall within the powers of the presidency, Woolley said.

"The lines are easily blurred. For the public, a candidatecan't say, 'I have no influence on this issue.' If it's an issue people care about,they expect the president to have a position," Woolley explained.

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In the March 6 Democratic debate in Flint, Mich., Sanders said he opposes frackingand that fossil fuels need to be left in the ground to prevent global warming. Clintonsaid she prefers an approach of stricter regulation to include local support anddisclosure of the chemical makeup of fracking fluids. She said she did not expectmany places in the U.S. to lend themselves to oil and gas drilling under her regime.

Clinton's campaign fact sheet on energy still maintains a callfor continued natural gas production so that gas serves as a transition fuel torenewables, agreeing with President Obama's Clean Power Plan. "With the rightsafeguards in place, natural gas can help meet our 2025 international climate commitment,in a way that keeps us on track with achieving a greater than 80% reduction in greenhousegas emissions by 2050," Clinton's Feb. 12 position paper on gas states. Clinton'spaper pointed to states such as Colorado as an example of a proper regulatory regime:one that prevents methane leaks, protects local water and prevents induced seismicity.

"Bernie is proud that Vermont has banned fracking and believesthe entire United States should adopt similar measures," Sanders' website states.Vermont is the only other state to ban hydraulic fracturing. Unlike New York, whichlies atop the northern portion of the Marcellus and Utica shales, Vermont has littlein the way of identified oil and gas resources in the ground.

Curiously, while Sanders has received an infinitesimal $53,760from identified oil and gas supporters or employees, he has received more oil andgas cash than Donald Trump, who has wholeheartedly supported fracking and vows toopen up New York for shale gas production.