‘Not Good News’: Expert Slams 2020 Democrats’ Proposed Fracking Bans

Thu, September 12, 2019

Despite a clear scientific consensus demonstrating the benefits of clean-burning natural gas in driving down greenhouse gas emissions to a 25-year low, two front-runners for the Democratic nomination for President – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) – have bizarrely pledged to address climate change by enacting a full ban on fracking. 

Throwing facts to the wind, Sanders’ and Warren’s calls to ban fracking completely ignore the benefits of the shale revolution and its importance to the United States – namely: job growth, energy security, lower fuel costs, less reliance on foreign imports, increased stabilization of global energy markets, and, yes, climate progress.

In an interview with CNBC, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), argued that the Senators’ proposed ban would have “major implications” not only for the United States but also for the world:

“This would have major implications on the market for the U.S. economy, for jobs growth and everything, and not good news for energy security, because for example U.S. natural gas provides a lot of security to the markets.” (emphasis added)

Further, Birol added the oil and natural gas industry is part of the climate solution:

“I think climate change is serious issue — the oil industry, gas industry have to be part of the solution rather than being the problem or a barrier…But stopping oil and gas production is something that I wouldn’t advise to the U.S. government or another government. But they have to produce oil and gas in a sustainable manner, and of course technologies and projects are already there to make sustainable oil and gas production.” (emphasis added)

Calls to ban fracking are not only unrealistic, they jeopardize global climate progress. The use of natural gas is a primary factor in driving down global emissions, and  is credited with supporting a 28 percent drop in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions between 2005 and 2017. Over roughly the same period, the increased use of natural gas has prevented approximately 2.4 billion metric tons of CO2 from being emitted in the United States.

According to the IEA, natural gas consumption is expected to grow by more than 40 percent globally, as the fuel will increasingly replace more emission-intensive fuel sources and meet the energy needs of a growing population. As a result, limiting or restricting fracking in the United States – the world’s largest natural gas producer – would have swift and widespread consequences felt around the world. 

About 70 percent of total U.S. natural gas production – about 65 billion cubic feet per day – comes from shale or tight formations, with a whopping 97 percent of this production coming horizontally drilled and hydraulically fractured wells. That means that the natural gas used to power and heat our homes and businesses almost assuredly came from fracking.

In addition to the impact on climate, the economic impacts of a fracking ban would be devastating. 

A 2016 report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute quantified the effects of a fracking ban in the United States, finding that a ban would result in the loss of nearly 14.8 million jobs nationwide. Further, the study found that a fracking ban would increase the prices consumers pay for petroleum products like gasoline by 53 percent, while electricity prices would almost double. In total, U.S. household incomes would drop by more than $878 billion if a fracking ban were put in place.

The proposed fracking bans jeopardize global climate progress, economic growth, American jobs and access to affordable, reliable energy. If these Democratic presidential candidates really wanted to help the American people, they’d support – not ban – fracking.