Senator Bernie Sanders – seeking the Democratic nomination for president – in recent days has introduced legislation that would ban fracking and has reportedly drafted an executive order to ban oil exports when he becomes president.
As we have noted previously, such proposals are short-sighted to American economic and geopolitical security. Energy exports are major job drivers at home, bolster the global energy market, and protect national security, especially in light of unrest and unpredictability in the Middle East.
Just as a Democrat has cautioned Senator Sanders not to oppose a pipeline in Minnesota, they are warning him about the economic and political risks of his proposals in states like Pennsylvania as the United States is predicted to become energy independent in 2020 after being a net oil exporter for the first time in 75 years.
Economic: An outright ban on fracking would have a devastating economic effect on states like Pennsylvania, considering the shale industry supports 320,000 and nearly $23 billion in wages in the state. Pennsylvania isn’t the only key swing state that would be negatively impacted by a fracking ban. Ohio and Michigan have a combined total of more than 400,000 workers in the industry, Colorado and Florida each have more than 200,000 workers in gas and oil.
Environmental: In addition to jobs, natural gas also provides affordable, accessible energy. As the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer after Texas, about half of Pennsylvania households use natural gas as their primary home heating fuel, and its 49 underground gas storage sites – the most for any state – are key for helping to meet heating demand in the winter. From 2010 to 2018, Pennsylvania’s share of electricity generated from natural gas more than doubled to 36 percent, while the share from coal fell by more than half to 21 percent – lowering carbon emissions in the process.
Now is not the time to pander to narrow constituencies in exchange for threatening our energy independence, global security and countless jobs at home. Ideological opposition does not cancel out facts, and facts show we still need and benefit from the use of traditional fuels like natural gas and oil.