What If We Did Ban Fracking? What Would We Lose?

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K.J. Rodgers
Crownsville, Maryland  

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Too many environmental groups call for fracking bans not thinking or, more importantly, caring what it would cost Americans. It would be hugely expensive. 

I had an elementary teacher who would refuse to answer a question if you prefaced it with “what if…” and it taught me to be more creative on how to ask questions without using the phrase. The uncertainty of a question that could lead to a never-ending series of others can, of course, be frustrating or intimidating, even, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good exercise for clarifying issues. Such is the case with fracking bans.

What if snow was warm or what if butterflies had machine guns. “What ifs” are the bane of many parents and teachers. Children love to ask what if questions and I can’t wait for my toddler to start asking them, as I tend to like them. I like to wonder what would or could happen. We all know of someone or some group claiming we should ban fracking. What if we did? What would happen?

Well the Institute for 21st Century Energy, an affiliate of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, took on the land of theoretical questions by exploring what would happen. Their answer is blunt: If on January 1, 2017 we banned all fracking then, by 2022, 14.8 million jobs could be lost, gasoline and electricity prices could almost double, and each American family could see their cost of living increase by almost $4,000.

Fracking Ban

If fracking were to be banned, here are the hardest hit by state.

That is just the tip of the iceberg. The report does a great job charting the answers to this question by exploring how the country’s GDP would drop by $1.6 trillion dollars and how household incomes could drop $873 billion. Non-fracked natural gas prices would shoot to 400% higher prices. No matter how you look at it, the answer to the question is bad news.

Fracking’s benefits to many seem to have popped up overnight. They suppose we did well beforehand, so we can easily do it again. The truth is this; since the 1990’s we have been accessing hard to reach deposits through the use of fracking and during the nine years between 2006 and 2015, fracked gas production exploded from 37% to 69%. This boom has reduced energy prices for many consumers and as I covered earlier, has saved businesses over $76 billion.

Electricity Prices

The Institute for 21st Century Energy also recently updated their energy price map. Amber Glen at Energy In Depth has noted the map shows 27 states experienced declines in their energy prices – including some of the New England states with their politically correct herd mentality. These decreases are all due to the fracked gas so many of them oppose.

Maryland was over the national average by less than two cents and I believe it will drop in the future. Maryland consumes a hefty amount of natural gas and coincidently has increased in demand by 18% since 2006, but falls short on natural gas-fired power plants. Due to regulations and the age of the existing power plants, my state is not planning on any new conventional generation facilities other than natural gas through 2025, according to its planning.

Now that fracking has been theoretically banned forever in Maryland (as if government could ever ultimately stop any technology) what can we expect? According to this Natural Gas Solution article, we will lose 1,800 jobs annually and sacrifice a value-added economy of $316 million. This is not even including the other $349.7 million in wages and 7,318 jobs that would be created by additional pipeline construction or the vastly bigger savings all Maryland consumers get from natural gas development and fracking. The ban is a very bad move by any measure, as this “what if” analysis demonstrates.

It makes me want to ask a few other “what if” questions. What if Larry Hogan, for example, the current Maryland Governor, changed his mind and supported fracking once again? Given the speed with which he switched horses in this instance, who is to say he won’t do so again when the wind direction changes? What if he suddenly paid attention to a real poll indicating 40% oppose a fracking ban and not the push polls fractivist special interests gave him? What if…

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