Ohio Democrat Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan pledged his support for natural gas during a Fox News town hall on Tuesday night, hoping voters will forget about his campaign for president three years ago.
Speaking with the network’s Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum in Columbus, Ryan was asked about his prior opposition to hydraulic fracturing, which revolutionized the state’s energy industry.
“You voted against fracking in the past on federal lands,” said MacCallum. “You said you wanted it banned. So now the president is saying that he wants to tax energy companies, a windfall tax because of the profits that they make. … Why not make that investment in making us energy independent because right now we are far from it?”
“I’m 1,000 percent for that, 1,000 percent!” Ryan said. “I’m just saying we don’t want to do fracking on federal lands. I’d like to do it wherever else we can.”
On the presidential campaign trail, however, Ryan propped up plans to regulate fracking out of business, the consequences of which can’t be overstated. In 2014, as many as 95 percent of new wells were being drilled with fracking technology, according to the Energy Department. Hydraulic fracturing still accounts for most new oil and gas wells today.
In a 2019 interview with The Washington Post, Ryan left open the door to ban fracking if lawmakers refuse to ramp up regulation, and he didn’t make any distinction between federal and private lands.
“We need to significantly ramp up our oversight and regulation of the industry and its practices, especially in regard to its use and disposal of water, as well as methane leaks,” Ryan said. “If the industry cannot rapidly innovate on these issues, I believe the federal government would need to step in and halt fracking operations.”
The Ohio congressman, who’s voted with the White House agenda 100 percent of the time, also defended President Joe Biden’s illegal suspension of oil and gas operations on federal land just last year in the early days of the new administration.
“It’s a great compromise that protects our national parks and federal land while still allows the pursuit of natural gas,” Ryan said.
Biden’s immediate halt to new leases, which lasted 18 months, handicapped the oil and gas industry and stemmed from a cascade of regulations that sent energy prices to new heights. Eleven percent of the nation’s gas production comes from public lands and waters, according to the American Petroleum Institute. By June, Americans were paying a record average of $5.01 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, according to AAA.
During his presidential run, Ryan also touted plans to eliminate coal as “amazing.” At a New Hampshire candidate forum with Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Ryan celebrated the radical climate package by Democrat presidential rival and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as model legislation. Ryan said Inslee’s platform featured “one of the most amazing plans around climate.”
“Inslee’s plan does not chart a forgiving path for coal,” The New York Times reported on the proposal. “It calls for retiring what it labels as the ‘increasingly uneconomical U.S. coal fleet’ by 2030.”
According to the Ohio Coal Association, the coal industry employs 33,000 Ohioans.
The Ohio Senate contest over retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman’s seat remains among the most critical to Republicans hoping to capture a majority in the upper chamber. According to RealClearPolitics’ latest aggregate of polls, Republican venture capitalist J.D. Vance is up by just more than 2 points despite the fact that polls are often manipulated to drive media narratives that benefit Democrats. Vance’s lead is well within the margin of error of every major survey conducted through October.