Zuckerberg visits North Dakota to learn about energy industry
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited North Dakota on Wednesday to learn more about the fracking and oil industries, further fueling speculation about the tech billionaire’s possible future in politics.
In a lengthy Facebook post, the Facebook CEO wrote that it is “important” to understand “different perspectives” about the energy industry.
“Today I’m in Williston, North Dakota learning about fracking and the community around it,” he wrote.
“I believe stopping climate change is one of the most important challenges of our generation,” Zuckerberg continued. “Given that, I think it’s even more important to learn about our energy industry, even if it’s controversial.”
Zuckerberg described meeting employees who worked for a fracking company, and learning how communities in North Dakota depend on controversial energy practices, like fracking, and the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite touting Facebook’s commitment to renewable energy.
“The energy industry is at the center of politics here. When the Dakota Access Pipeline was approved, that removed $6-7 per barrel of cost from producing oil in the region, which brought more investment and jobs here,” he said.
Despite his history of supporting renewable energy, Zuckerberg wrote about the dangers of “demonizing” people who work in energy industries such as oil and natural gas.
According to Zuckerberg, the workers he met “believe competition from new sources of energy is good, but from their perspective, until renewables can provide most of our energy at scale, they are providing an important service we all rely on, and they wish they’d stop being demonized for it.”
Zuckerberg’s cross-country travels have spurred speculation about a possible presidential bid. He visited Iowa last month as part of his New Year’s resolution to tour the U.S. and toured a Ford assembly plant in Michigan in April.
Zuckerberg’s trip to North Dakota comes just a month after Facebook joined several other tech companies in pledging to support the Paris climate accord. Tech executives criticized President Trump’s decision, announced in June, to withdraw from the deal.
In May, Facebook along with several other companies placed full-page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal urging Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement, arguing the agreement would create jobs and economic growth.
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