In 2019, front-runners for the Democratic nomination to lead the free world are openly advocating for the ban of fossil fuels. Taking their positions – and their rhetoric – seriously, we take a look at what would happen if they end “fossil fuels” and ban fracking.
1. The environment would suffer.
Our air would get dirtier immediately as the United States and every country that relies on our clean burning natural gas would begin burning vast amounts of coal to power the grid and heat/cool homes and businesses. According to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory the United States has cut carbon pollution more than any other major economy, thanks to natural gas and renewables. Natural gas utilization improves our air quality locally and is a key part of long term global climate change solutions.
2. Energy prices would skyrocket.
People most vulnerable to energy price fluctuations would suffer. The cost to heat and cool our homes would go up, making it difficult for those on fixed incomes as they would have to choose between food, medicine, or warmth. This impact is being seen in countries like Germany, as they quickly move away from fossil fuels, where electric power costs are nearly three times as high as the United States.
3. The world would become less safe.
Countries, including the United States, would be forced to depend on despots, dictators and less stable countries to supply our energy. The United States is the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world, and we’re quickly becoming a net exporter, which is a powerful geopolitical dynamic that makes our world safer. Shifting additional power to energy rich countries like Russia, Venezuela and OPEC members is a mistake.
4. There would be massive job loss.
Millions of people across the United States could lose their jobs. There would be no “just” transition to other jobs if you move to immediately ban fracking or halt development, as some candidates have promised. In Colorado alone, more than 100,000 people could lose their jobs, in what is regarded as one of the state’s most important employers. The average oil and natural gas job pays more than $100,000.
5. The economy would suffer.
The oil and natural gas industry is an economic engine, powering investment and good paying jobs. From 2008-15, six jobs were created in Texas and North Dakota for every one job created in the 48 other states. Without this industry home values would drop, the service industry and retailers would suffer, and the cost of living for American households would skyrocket.
6. Students would lose.
In Colorado, schools could be forced to consolidate, decrease classroom days or increase classroom sizes as more than $600 million in annually funding disappears within a few years.
7. Critical infrastructure would go unfunded.
At the national level the Land and Water Conservation Fund could disappear, which is funded by oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing billions in grants that support public lands, waters, forests, endangered species, and our national parks. In Colorado, funding for water projects, fire districts, and literacy programs could dry up as the state loses millions in severance tax dollars from oil and natural gas.
8. Manufacturing costs would go up.
Manufacturing costs would go up, meaning costs for consumers would go up. Low energy costs have increased manufacturing in the United States so those jobs likely would be lost as well. It is no coincidence that low energy costs fuel an economy, and the fact we’ve experienced a prolonged period of low natural gas prices has been a powerful economic benefit.
9. Charitable organizations and nonprofits would be impacted.
In 2018, Colorado Oil and Gas Association members gave more than $17 million to local nonprofits and donated more than 70,000 hours of volunteer work.
10. Our independence and values as a nation would be diminished.
Not only would the United States rely on foreign countries for our energy needs, but the constitutional private property rights at the core of our democracy would be slashed as mineral owners would no longer be able to access their property.
Responsible oil and natural gas development benefits every single American as our air gets cleaner, our economy gets stronger, and our country becomes safer. 2020 presidential candidates are doing a tremendous disservice to our country by peddling reckless policies that ultimately will hurt the country.
Voters deserve an honest debate about the pros and cons of domestic oil and natural gas production. But most of all, they deserve to hear about how we can all work together to build an energy future that’s safe, clean, reliable, and affordable for all of us.
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Dan Haley is the President and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.