With another tip of the cap to the inimitable Yogi Berra, we’re getting that déjà vu all over again feeling from a recently surfaced anti-fracking ad. We say that because the infographic’s misleading, not-to-scale placement of groundwater near the shale layer that’s being fracked, as well as alarmism over well-casing integrity recalls another group’s ad that appeared in the New York subway system in the fall, rebutted here.
This new initiative, backed by Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and Artists Against Fracking, plays off John Lennon’s signature tune “Imagine” with the top-line message: “Imagine There’s No Fracking …” The body of the ad claims there’s no safe fracking, though EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson would disagree – as she did here and here. Methane emissions from fracking operations? A new MIT study found that extracting natural gas from shale through hydraulic fracturing emits only a fraction more methane into the air than conventional drilling. Natural gas worse for emissions than coal, as a Cornell study claimed – only to be refuted by another Cornell study? You get the idea.
Back to that top-line message, imagining no fracking. Well, no need to imagine. No fracking would mean:
Lost jobs, investment and government revenue. A recent IHS Global Insight study found that unconventional oil and natural gas, developed through fracking, could have transformative power in terms of all of the above. IHS projected:
- More than $5.1 trillion in oil and natural gas company spending into the economy between 2012 and 2035.
- Job growth from 1.7 million to 3 million by the end of this decade and to 3.5 million in 2035.
- Federal, state and local governments would see $2.5 trillion in cumulative tax receipts between 2012 and 2035.
This is real economic stimulus – an energy stimulus. Well-paying jobs for real people. Even now oil and natural gas from fracking is driving opportunity in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states. We recently learned that four metro areas located in big energy-producing locations lead the nation in employment growth over the past five years. By the way, this same dynamic could be at work in New York state, where Yoko and Sean live, if given the chance.
$2.9 trillion leaving the U.S. We recently noted how, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest forecast, more than 35 percent of the oil we’ll produce between now and 2040 will be tight oil – developed with fracking. That represents energy sales of more than $2.9 trillion, which would remain in this country instead of going elsewhere. Imagine no fracking – imagine waving good-bye as more of our wealth goes somewhere else.
Squandered U.S. energy wealth. Again, IHS projects that in just three years tight oil that’s fracked from rock formations will eclipse oil from conventional sources. By 2020 it will bypass oil from conventional and deep water sources, hitting 4.5 million barrels per day. Natural gas? With fracking, natural gas from shale is projected by IHS to account for more than 80 percent of overall U.S. gas production by 2035. EIA projects U.S. dry natural gas production will increase from 23 trillion cubic feet in 2011 to more than 33 tcf in 2040 – again, led by shale gas from fracking. EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski:
“Driving everything on the gas production side is shale gas. … Shale gas continues to be the major contributor to increased natural gas production, going from about 7.8 trillion cubic feet in 2011 – that was about a third of domestic gas production – up to 16.7 tcf in 2040, when it will be half of domestic production.”
But not without fracking.
Missed opportunity for cleaner air. Earlier this year we learned that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide had fallen to their lowest level since 1992 – due in large measure to greater use of clean-burning natural gas, much of it developed with fracking. ExxonMobil’s new long-term energy outlook estimates that CO2 emissions in OECD countries will decline by 20 percent by 2040 (compared to 2010), mostly because of natural gas from fracking.
A less secure America. The security ramifications of a frack-less United States are significant. The International Energy Agency recently projected that U.S. energy potential, made possible by fracking, would let the U.S. overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2020. IEA:
"Energy developments in the United States are profound and their effect will be felt well beyond North America - and the energy sector. The recent rebound in U.S. oil and gas production, driven by upstream technologies that are unlocking light tight oil and shale gas resources, is spurring economic activity - with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving industry a competitive edge – and steadily changing the role of North America in global energy trade.”
Growing U.S. energy production means a more energy-secure America. The U.S. Chamber’s Sean Hackbarth blogs here about a National Intelligence Council report that estimates oil and natural gas produced from shale and other unconventional sources will greatly improve our energy security. That means a more secure America overall.
Our vast energy wealth, much of it energy from shale developed by fracking, will help reduce imports and make us less vulnerable to events elsewhere. But only if we develop those resources. Only if we continue to use fracking technologies – which continue to improve – to safely and responsibly produce American energy for Americans.
Sure, we can imagine a United States without fracking – one that’s poorer, more dependent on imports and less secure. Not the thing nice dreams are made of.