Recently seen in upstate New York: a bumper sticker on a car that says “Ban all hydrofracking.” It’s a rather ironic statement since the driver of that car has undoubtedly filled up at the gas station many times.
The relevant question, then, is how often does the average American use fracked oil and natural gas?
Thus, it’s pretty likely that the average American driver has filled up with cheap, fracked oil many times.
While that may seem like an inconvenient truth, here’s another quirk of the recent U.S. energy boom: President Obama has been taking credit for the low gasoline prices that Americans are currently enjoying.
In a July 5, 2016, speech, the president said: “Remember when we were all concerned about our dependence on foreign oil? Well, let me tell you—we’ve cut the amount of oil we buy from other countries in half. Remember when the other team was promising they were going to get gas prices down in like 10 years? We did it.”
President Obama is correct. Gasoline prices have fallen dramatically in recent years. But the primary reason for this cheaper gas is the shale oil provided by hydraulic fracturing.
It’s strange that the president would claim credit for these lower prices since he’s presided over a continuing decline in oil production on federal lands. And the fracking that actually provides cheaper oil has largely taken place on private and state lands—outside of federal control.
The reason all of this matters is because Americans rely on a high-energy economy to provide the resources for safer, healthier living. Robust electricity generation in the nation’s power plants is what drives the treatment and delivery of clean drinking water, the transit and remediation of sewage and waste, and the medical care that cures illnesses and save lives. Without plentiful, affordable energy, America’s current standard of living would decline precipitously.
Thus the conflict of interest displayed on a bumper sticker advocating an end to fracking. Indeed, one way to end fracking would be to boycott oil—by never driving a car. But until activists make such a commitment, it’s hard to see the logical consistency in their argument.
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