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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally for his campaign on April 11, 2016 in Binghamton, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally for his campaign on April 11, 2016 in Binghamton, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Sanders Applauds Grassroots New York, Calls for National Fracking Ban

During upstate swing ahead of April 19 primary, Vermont senator hammers Hillary Clinton for her fracking gifts to Chevron, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and Conoco Phillips

Lauren McCauley

Sharpening the contrast between himself and Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday told a crowd of 5,000 New Yorkers that he "applauded" them for "standing up to Governor Cuomo and demanding that New York state ban fracking."

"What you have done is prove to the world that when people stand up and form a grassroots movement of environmentalists, public health advocates, farmers, working families, and religious leaders there is nothing that we cannot accomplish," Sanders declared at a campaign stop in in Binghamton, which is part of the Southern Tier region of New York known as the "fracking belt."

"If we are serious, we need to put an end to fracking not only in New York and Vermont but all over this country," added the Vermont senator.

Watch the section of the speech below:

Ahead of the contentious April 19 New York primary, Sanders and his advocates have been highlighting some of the "very important differences," as he put it Monday, between the Democratic candidates, including their stances on the oil and gas drilling practice.

During the rally on Monday, Josh Fox, director of the documentary Gasland, joined Sanders on stage to elucidate on the candidates' differing views.

"Hillary Clinton just said, 'I support the New York fracking ban,'" said Fox, whose film is widely credited with bringing the toxic impacts of fracking in the spotlight. "But Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, developed the global shale gas initiative, which sold fracking to 30 countries worldwide. And she is advocating for a 'natural gas bridge to the future.' What does that mean? It means frack gas pipelines crisscrossing everywhere. It means 300 new pipelines that will last for decades."

"Secretary Clinton and her state department worked to export fracking throughout the world to reward companies like Chevron, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and Conoco Phillips. In my view that is unacceptable."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

"Secretary Clinton and her state department worked to export fracking throughout the world to reward companies like Chevron, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and Conoco Phillips," stated Sanders. "In my view that is unacceptable."

Clinton, who was endorsed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has faced criticism for her shifting positions on environmental issues and for taking campaign contributions from fossil fuel lobbyists.

At a campaign event in Kingston, New York on Saturday, anti-fracking activists connected the pending climate crisis to the current U.S. presidential contest—and the need to get out the vote for Sanders, who currently trails Clinton by 12 points among Democratic voters in the state.

"We are not here to simply express our hope for a strong, clear signal on renewable energy from the executive office. We are here to make it so and change providence itself," said Sandra Steingraber, biologist and co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking, during the rally Saturday.

"That’s the spirit that allowed New Yorkers, against all prediction, to evict the frackers from our state and ban fracking now and forevermore," she continued. "Against all prediction, fellow New Yorkers, let’s help elect the nation’s first keep-it-in-the-ground president, willing to defend our bedrock, our water and our climate from those who would thrown our own children under the bus to line their fossilized pockets."

The Sanders campaign on Monday also released a new television ad reiterating his call for a national fracking ban and chastising politicians who "side with polluters over families." Meanwhile, Sanders will continue to campaign in upstate New York through Tuesday with stop in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. 

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