Fracking Ban?!

Have you heard what U.S. Democratic presidential candidates have been saying about hydraulic fracturing? Most of the front runners are calling for an outright ban. Banning fracturing would have immediate and wide-ranging negative consequences for the U.S. energy industry, the nation’s economy, and America’s national security.

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What… the… frack! Have you heard what U.S. Democratic presidential candidates have been saying about hydraulic fracturing? Most of the front runners are calling for an outright ban. Inconceivably, they want to stop the practice that has made America the world leader in oil and natural gas production… and has subsequently supercharged our economy, reduced global influence from Russia and the Middle East, reduced CO2 emissions and made our air cleaner. This is a stunning declaration by these candidates.

Yes, I understand their need to stoke the passions of their base by showing their great concern about climate change. But proposing that we ban fracturing – something the industry has been doing for 80 years – shows a fundamental ignorance of how we power our lives. They may think they’re being inspirational. But, in truth, they are being radical and irrationally harmful. 

These people have short memories. It wasn’t that long ago that the U.S. was importing about 65 percent of its oil. And we were building LNG terminals so we could import natural gas from the rest of the world. Energy costs were high and Russia and Middle Eastern nations were getting wealthier and amassing more power. Our economic and national security were entering a danger zone. Then the shale revolution took off, powered by horizontal drilling and, yes, hydraulic fracturing. 

What happened next was a modern miracle. America’s imports of crude oil and petroleum products plunged. The same with natural gas. Import terminals were turned into export terminals. Instead of sending our dollars to mostly hostile nations, we kept our money and grew our manufacturing base.

Anyone who proposes America ban hydraulic fracturing can’t possibly understand what the severe and immediate consequences would be. Since nearly 90% of all new oil and natural gas wells are horizontally fractured, a ban would drive our oil and gas production down severely within several years.

A 2016 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that if a ban was adopted, the price of oil and gasoline would skyrocket, quickly doubling in price. Just about everything would get more expensive including food, medicines, cars, paint, clothing, anything made with plastic, and the list goes on and on. Electricity prices would double. The Chamber estimates living expenses would jump by $4,000 per family. Nearly 15 million jobs would be lost, roughly 10 percent of the nation’s workforce, and most of those jobs are high paying. The total impact of a ban would be so wide-ranging and severe it couldn’t last long. Americans wouldn’t stand for it. 

But we don’t need to guess how banning hydraulic fracturing would destroy America’s new-found energy independence. California has given us a preview. Check out the massive growth of The Golden State’s foreign oil consumption. The state has some of the most restrictive and punitive drilling regulations. At the same time, California has highly aggressive policies to reduce oil demand. But oil is essential to everything we do, so the result has been to make itself dangerously dependent on foreign sources. The state is actually becoming a national security risk. If the global oil market is shaken for any reason, California is in big trouble.

Politicians on both sides tend to say dumb and dangerous things when they are trying to rally their base in a quest for power. But it’s time for the Democrat presidential hopefuls to tap the brakes on their rhetoric. Banning fracking is hyperbole that goes too far.

For the Clear Energy Alliance, I’m Mark Mathis. Power On!

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