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Biden, Trump address the future of oil industry during Thursday's debate

A discussion about safety near plants and refineries during Thursday's debate turned into a look at the oil industry and renewable energy.

HOUSTON — Texas took center stage in Thursday’s debate when moderator Kristen Welker asked President Trump what he’d say to people living near oil refineries and power plants after his administration rolled back regulations on these types of facilities.

Editor's note: Video above is a VERIFY report on multiple claims made during the final presidential debate

Welker said people of color are more likely to live near the plants and refineries.

The president said he wasn’t aware of the statistics Welker mentioned, but did claim that people now are much better off than they were under the Obama-Biden administration.

"The families that we’re talking about are employed heavily and are making more money than they’ve ever made," said the president.

President Trump also used it as an opportunity to talk about how the oil industry has come back to life under the current administration after being in big trouble during the early days of the pandemic.

“We saved it and I saved it again a number of months ago when oil was crashing because of the pandemic,” said President Trump. “Say what you want about the relationship. We got Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Russia to cut way back. We saved our oil industry and now it’s very vibrant and now everyone has very inexpensive gasoline.”

In his response, former Vice President Joe Biden said President Trump doesn’t understand what people living near the plants are dealing with, bringing up his own experience in Delaware.

“I used to live near that when I was growing up and Claymont, Delaware,” said Biden. “And all the more oil refineries in Marcus Hook in the Delaware River than there is any place, including in Houston at the time. When my mom get in the car when our first frost, to drive me to school, turned on the windshield wipers and there would be an oil slick in the window. That's why so many people in my state were dying and getting cancer. The fact is those frontline communities, it doesn't matter what you're paying them. It matters how you keep them safe.”

Biden and Trump then got into an exchange about the oil industry. Trump asked Biden if he’d close down the oil industry, to which the former vice president said he could transition away from it over time.

"I would transition from the oil industry, yes," said Biden

"Oh, that's a big statement," responded Trump.

“It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time," said Biden. "And I'd stop giving to the oil industry, I'd stop giving them federal subsidies. He won't give federal subsidies to solar and wind. Why are we giving it to the oil industry?

Trump interrupted, saying “We actually do give it to solar and wind.”

Biden's claim that Trump won't give federal subsidies to solar and wind is one of the claims our VERIFY team looked into, determining it to be false. There are currently tax credits available to both the wind and solar industry - like the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for Wind.  

You can see more of our VERIFY on the presidential debate here.

More clips from the presidential debate