Former Vice President Joe Biden promised to stop issuing leases for oil and natural gas drilling on federal lands and in offshore areas and he promised to ban hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking”. The logical result of these positions would be for the newly energy-independent United States to go back to importing much more of its oil from the Middle East for it is clear that it will be many decades before electric vehicles could replace gasoline engines and that substitutes could be found to replace products made from oil. It is fracking that has made the United States energy-independent and natural gas produced by fracking that has reduced our carbon dioxide emissions—one of only a few countries to do so. Further, by banning oil production on public lands and offshore areas and by banning fracking, the United States will be giving money to foreign oil producers rather than employing the hundreds of thousands of Americans currently working to produce our oil.
Former Vice President and presumed Democratic Party presidential nominee Biden wants us to believe that he will continue with the policies of the Obama Administration, many of which he argues were his accomplishments. But, the Obama Administration supported fracking while unsuccessfully pursuing tighter regulation of the technology because the Administration could not prove that fracking caused contamination of drinking water, air pollution, methane leaks, and/or earthquakes. Hydraulic fracturing is a drilling and extraction method of releasing oil and natural gas from underground shale rocks, using high pressure liquid to break them apart. The technology, when combined with horizontal drilling to access the horizontal deposits of organic material, has made the United States the top oil and natural gas producer in the world and lowered U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the U.S. led the world in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in 2019, and since 2000, has reduced absolute emissions more than any other country.
U.S. Oil Production and Imports
Fifteen years ago, the United States was importing most of its oil — 12.5 million barrels per day on a net basis (imports minus exports), or almost twice our domestic oil production. Also 15 years ago, the United States was emitting about 14 percent more in greenhouse gases than it does today. Official agency projections of the world’s need for oil and natural gas made by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency indicate that natural gas and oil should continue to supply half or more of global energy demand for decades to come. These fundamentals reflect the need for energy to support human and economic development—as well as the sheer enormity of global energy systems, infrastructure and transportation fleets on the road, in the air and on the sea.
The United States has an abundance of natural gas and oil resources and production, thanks largely to technological innovations like hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, 3D imaging, and advanced data analytics. These innovations have made domestic natural gas and oil competitive. In January, the United States produced almost 13.0 million barrels per day of crude oil and another 5.0 million barrels per day of natural gas liquids and exported over 8.7 million barrels per day of petroleum. During that same month, the United States produced 95.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.
In a competitive market, economic fundamentals suggest that a negative demand shock would likely result in lower prices, which is a result of the lowered oil demand from the coronavirus. As producers adjust to the lower demand, their drilling activity and supply may be reduced in response. However, the United States achieved production records for crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids due to productivity gains and new pipeline infrastructure, which are a testament to the innovation and strength of the U.S. energy revolution.
Former Vice President Biden must want us to believe that renewables can replace fossil fuels in the generation sector. But, renewable energy cannot replace the contribution currently made by natural gas because wind and solar are intermittent technologies that do not perform when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. For example, recent analysis showed that Minnesota’s solar production was limited to only 5.6 percent of capacity in December, 2018. Further, renewables will not be powering most people’s cars for many decades due to the difficulty and expense involved in battery design and production. Thus, cars will continue to run on oil and Biden’s ban on domestic oil production will just result in more expensive gasoline at the pump made from imported oil.
Former Vice President and presumed Democratic Party presidential nominee Biden supports policies that would make the United States more dependent on foreign oil again by banning oil production on federal lands and in offshore areas as well as banning fracking—the technology that has made the United States the top producer of oil and natural gas in the world. Not only would this put money in the hands of foreign producers and reduce employment in the United States, it would be a national security issue by making the United States dependent on the Persian Gulf for oil.