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Courting NY anti-frackers, Sanders sharpens attack on Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders onApril 11 lashed out against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton overhydraulic fracturing, further positioning himself as the candidate for voterswho oppose the practice.

Speaking in the upstate city of Binghamton, ground zero inthe battle that resulted in New York's banon fracking, Sanders again accused Clinton of being in favor of polluters overfamilies. The campaign also released a television ad with the same theme.Binghamton is the largest city in New York's Southern Tier area atop theMarcellus Shale. New York Democrats go to the pollsApril 19.

Clinton has said she would more strictly regulate frackingbut has stopped short of calling for an outright ban.

"Bernie Sanders doesn't seem overly concerned withappearances, and his populist supporters don't seem to mind if he is mean tothose who support big business," Kevin Book of ClearView Energy Partners,a veteran observer of energy politics from inside the Beltway, said April 12. "ForSanders' purposes, however, fracking is one of a small number of fresh wedgeissues he can use against Clinton now that he has weathered criticism for beinga one-trick pony on Wall Street."

Sanders has prompted Clinton to take stances further to theleft than she might have been comfortable with, which may indicate little, ifanything, about how Clinton might govern if elected president, Book said.

"Hillary the president — if she is elected — seems muchmore likely to pivot," Book said. "Clintons are nimble rhetoricalgymnasts. Pivoting is what they do, and cornering them is hard. She may notsomersault all the way back to past levels of pragmatism, but President Obamahas already moved the oil and gas regulatory baseline to the green side ofpragmatism in his last year."