Issues & Insights

Democrats’ Campaign Promise: We’ll Destroy America’s Energy Sector … And Economy

I&I Editorial

Eight of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates say they want to ban fracking. Eleven others would limit the process or “regulate it better,” says the Washington Post. Could these politicians possibly be that ignorant of how ruinous their prohibition lust would be in the real world?

First, let’s get it straight why the political left hates hydraulic fracturing. It’s not because it’s an environmental threat. They know it’s clean process and has been both an ecological and economic boom, in no small part due to the increased production of natural gas, a cleaner alternative to coal for producing electricity.

No, the left loathes fracking because it is so efficient in taking fossil fuel out of the ground.

Crude production in the U.S. has spiked since 2008, rising from roughly 5 millions barrels a day to almost 11 million barrels in 2018, 17% higher than 2017, says the government’s Energy Information Administration. In December of last year, the country produced 11.96 million barrels per day, an all-time record.

The growth, says the EIA, was “driven mainly by production from tight rock formations using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. EIA projects that U.S. crude oil production will continue to grow in 2019 and 2020, averaging 12.3 million b/d and 13.0 million b/d, respectively.”

Meanwhile, natural gas production has soared from 18.05 trillion cubic feet in 2005 to 30.44 trillion cubic feet in 2018. The increase has nearly eliminated the need for imports. According to the EIA, the U.S. consumed 29.97 trillion cubic feet in 2018. Again, “most of the production increases since 2005 were the result of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques.”

America is now the fossil fuel king. We are more energy independent, more energy secure, thanks to fracking.

Yet the Democrats want to turn the energy production clock back decades if not centuries. A comment made by a campaign spokesman for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who not long ago tweeted that “fossil fuel executives should be criminally prosecuted for the destruction they have knowingly caused” — that someone who holds such a childish view can be elected to any office in this country is alarming — epitomizes the Democratic field’s closed-minded view on fracking.

“No amount of regulation can make it safe,” the aide aide told the Washington Post. “When (Sanders) is in the White House, he is going to ban fracking nationwide and rapidly move to 100% clean, sustainable energy.”

How will Sanders, or any other Democrat elected president, replace the lost energy? Windmills? Sunshine? Those “sustainable” sources are not up to the task, and likely won’t be for some time, no matter how much their supporters fantasize about renewable prices competing with conventional fuels.

The true believers imagine that the 25-year contract the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power signed to buy “record low” solar power is a watershed moment in renewables. But the Mojave Desert facility will provide no more than 7% of Los Angeles’ electricity needs and cannot generate more than four hours of power at night.

Wind has similar limitations. Not only is power storage a glaring weakness, there are acreage problems. A wind farm needs 100 times more land than a natural-gas plant to create the same amount of energy. A recent government report from Michigan found the state would have to more than double its 1,107 windmills to replace one of its coal-gas plants.

Under a Democratic administration, America would be forced into a Third World energy experience enforced by bureaucratic cranks, and supported by naive, sanctimonious, and in some cases completely detached-from-reality Democrat voters.

This is to say nothing of the economy, which would take a jackbooted kick in the head. (And might have been saved from the previous administration’s recession-friendly policies by fracking in Texas and North Dakota.) The American Petroleum Institute reckons that a “keep it in the ground” policy, which includes a fracking ban, would result in job losses ranging from “3.5 million to 5.9 million,” elevating “the unemployment rate to over 7% throughout much of the 2020‐2040 period.”

At the same time, APR estimates a cumulative loss in gross domestic product would reach “$823 billion by 2020 and $11.8 trillion by 2040.”

Even if the job and economic losses were actually half, even a quarter, of those estimates, why would any serious-minded person think keeping fossil fuels in the ground is reasonable policy?

He or she wouldn’t, but the Democrats have been captured by a far-over-the-edge green activist bloc made up of global warming hysterics, anti-capitalists, envy-driven militants, assorted socialists, and middle- and upper-class virtue-signalers clamoring for attention and significance.

So they are comfortable perpetuating myths, as Sanders’ aide did when he declared “fracking is a danger to our water supply. It’s a danger to the air we breathe. It has resulted in more earthquakes” and is “highly explosive.” These claims have all the credibility of a Bill Clinton denial, and the gravitas of playground logic. Yet they are currency in a Democratic Party that should be embarrassed rather then emboldened by them.

Written by J. Frank Bullitt

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