Fracking saved U.S. economy

The fracking revolution has been a major boon for the U.S. economy, and the switch from coal to natural gas has dramatically reduced greenhouse gas emissions.  Hydraulic fracking over the last decade has allowed American crude production to soar from less than 5 million barrels per day (bpd) to 9.2 million bpd.  Natural gas production also jumped from 51 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2005 to 77.9 bcfd at the end of 2014.  All of this has been accompanied by a 10-percent fall in greenhouse gas emissions.

IHS Research credited hydraulic fracking as the “shovel-ready jobs” that lifted America out of the Great Recession by a direct and indirect 1.7 million increase in employment.  The 70-percent crash in natural gas prices from $7.59 in 2006 to $2.83 mcf today allowed manufacturing to expand faster than the economy for the first time since the 1980s.

After crude peaked at $147 a barrel and gasoline prices touched $5 a gallon in 2008, crude oil is now about $50 per barrel, and gas is $3 per gallon.  Goldman Sachs estimates that cheaper gas is the equivalent of a “$125 billion tax cut for U.S. consumers.”

Opponents of fracking howl that with natural gas now 80 percent cheaper than supposedly “sustainable energy” like wind or solar, America is exacerbating global warming.  It is true that cheaper costs incentivized electrical utilities to convert from coal to natural gas, but that switch resulted in CO2 emissions from electrical generation plunging by 45 percent in just the last decade.

Natural gas is now on track to overtake coal.  In 2000, coal fueled 52 percent of electrical generation capacity in the U.S., versus only 12 percent for natural gas.  But today natural gas accounts for 30 percent of electrical generation, versus 37 percent for coal.  Due to fracking encouraging the switch to clean gas, America’s total greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3.4% from 2011 to 2012 and 10% since 2005.

While refusing to acknowledge that fracking for natural gas is responsible for drastically cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, opponents counter that more natural gas production has led to rising methane (CH4) emissions from natural gas production, traveling through pipelines, or sitting in storage.  They claim that methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the U.S. from human activity and can trap 20 times more of the sun’s radiation.

There is substantial research disputing global warming risks from methane, and methane lasts in the atmosphere only a quarter to one sixteenth as long as carbon dioxide.  But even if the risks were real, the EPA under Obama recently admitted that due to greater efficiency, methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells decreased by 73 percent from 2011 to 2013 and are expected to continue falling.

In just seven years, hydraulic fracking from U.S. shale has broken the back of the OPEC’s $100-a-barrel cartel pricing.  There is also so much natural gas production in the U.S. that America is about to start competing with OPEC as a major exporter by converting surplus natural gas into a liquid form called LNG. 

America was a major importer of LNG from 1995 to 2007 as annual imports skyrocketed from 17.9 billion cubic feet (bcf) to 770.8 bcf.  But for the last 8 years the U.S. has been natural gas self-sufficient.  With LNG as the fastest-growing component of the global natural gas market by growing at a 6% annual rate, Cheniere Energy's new Sabine Pass LNG facility in Louisiana will start exports to Europe and Asian in 2016, where the price of natural gas is 400 to 600 percent higher than the U.S.

With the price of oil falling by up to 60 percent in the last nine months, the frenzied pace of U.S. drilling has slowed by 40 percent, but production has continued to rise each month.  The bottom line is that hydraulic fracking for oil and natural gas has saved the U.S. economy and is in the process of saving the environment.

The fracking revolution has been a major boon for the U.S. economy, and the switch from coal to natural gas has dramatically reduced greenhouse gas emissions.  Hydraulic fracking over the last decade has allowed American crude production to soar from less than 5 million barrels per day (bpd) to 9.2 million bpd.  Natural gas production also jumped from 51 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in 2005 to 77.9 bcfd at the end of 2014.  All of this has been accompanied by a 10-percent fall in greenhouse gas emissions.

IHS Research credited hydraulic fracking as the “shovel-ready jobs” that lifted America out of the Great Recession by a direct and indirect 1.7 million increase in employment.  The 70-percent crash in natural gas prices from $7.59 in 2006 to $2.83 mcf today allowed manufacturing to expand faster than the economy for the first time since the 1980s.

After crude peaked at $147 a barrel and gasoline prices touched $5 a gallon in 2008, crude oil is now about $50 per barrel, and gas is $3 per gallon.  Goldman Sachs estimates that cheaper gas is the equivalent of a “$125 billion tax cut for U.S. consumers.”

Opponents of fracking howl that with natural gas now 80 percent cheaper than supposedly “sustainable energy” like wind or solar, America is exacerbating global warming.  It is true that cheaper costs incentivized electrical utilities to convert from coal to natural gas, but that switch resulted in CO2 emissions from electrical generation plunging by 45 percent in just the last decade.

Natural gas is now on track to overtake coal.  In 2000, coal fueled 52 percent of electrical generation capacity in the U.S., versus only 12 percent for natural gas.  But today natural gas accounts for 30 percent of electrical generation, versus 37 percent for coal.  Due to fracking encouraging the switch to clean gas, America’s total greenhouse gas emissions fell by 3.4% from 2011 to 2012 and 10% since 2005.

While refusing to acknowledge that fracking for natural gas is responsible for drastically cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, opponents counter that more natural gas production has led to rising methane (CH4) emissions from natural gas production, traveling through pipelines, or sitting in storage.  They claim that methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the U.S. from human activity and can trap 20 times more of the sun’s radiation.

There is substantial research disputing global warming risks from methane, and methane lasts in the atmosphere only a quarter to one sixteenth as long as carbon dioxide.  But even if the risks were real, the EPA under Obama recently admitted that due to greater efficiency, methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells decreased by 73 percent from 2011 to 2013 and are expected to continue falling.

In just seven years, hydraulic fracking from U.S. shale has broken the back of the OPEC’s $100-a-barrel cartel pricing.  There is also so much natural gas production in the U.S. that America is about to start competing with OPEC as a major exporter by converting surplus natural gas into a liquid form called LNG. 

America was a major importer of LNG from 1995 to 2007 as annual imports skyrocketed from 17.9 billion cubic feet (bcf) to 770.8 bcf.  But for the last 8 years the U.S. has been natural gas self-sufficient.  With LNG as the fastest-growing component of the global natural gas market by growing at a 6% annual rate, Cheniere Energy's new Sabine Pass LNG facility in Louisiana will start exports to Europe and Asian in 2016, where the price of natural gas is 400 to 600 percent higher than the U.S.

With the price of oil falling by up to 60 percent in the last nine months, the frenzied pace of U.S. drilling has slowed by 40 percent, but production has continued to rise each month.  The bottom line is that hydraulic fracking for oil and natural gas has saved the U.S. economy and is in the process of saving the environment.