ALABANY -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened up a new front in his battle with Hillary Clinton: fracking, the chemical drilling technique loathed by environmentalists.
With the New York primary just over a week away, Sanders is localizing his upstate pitch by putting fracking front and center. Campaigning here on Monday, he called for a nationwide ban on fracking and lauded New Yorkers who successfully pressured Gov. Andrew Cuomo to outlaw the practice.
Sanders also hit Clinton for promoting fracking when she was Secretary of State.
"I want to congratulate the people of New York state for having the guts, for having the guts to tell the Governor and the fossil fuel industry you will not accept the poisoning of your water," Sanders said to a crowd in Albany on Monday afternoon.
The statement echoed ones he had made earlier in the day at an event in Binghamton.
"What may have been considered unrealistic or pie in the sky just a few years ago has now been achieved in New York because you made it happen," Sanders said. "The growing body of evidence tells us that fracking is a danger to our water supply, our most precious resource. It is a danger to the air we breathe. It has resulted in more earthquakes. It is highly explosive. And it is contributing to climate change."
He labeled it as one of the issues where he and Clinton have "very significant differences."
"Secretary Clinton's role in fracking when she was secretary of state is not a good record," Mr. Sanders said. "Secretary Clinton and her State Department worked to export fracking throughout the world."
Sanders also noted that, in 2012, Vermont became the first state in America to ban fracking.
His campaign is also taking their anti-fracking message to the airwaves. "Do Washington politicians side with polluters over families? They sure do because big oil pumped millions into their campaigns," says the voice of Susan Sarandon, a Sanders surrogate, in a new 30-second TV ad.
This is not the first time fracking has been a contentious issue in a New York Democratic primary. Cuomo banned the practice after Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor, garnered roughly a third of the Democratic gubernatorial primary vote after running on an anti-fracking platform in 2014.