In a time long ago, seven years this month, President Obama and candidate Mitt Romney sparred in their second debate over the extent to which Obama deserved credit for increasing America’s oil and natural gas production. Three years later President Obama would, without fanfare, sign epic legislation reversing a 40-year-old petroleum export ban.
The United States used to be the world’s biggest importer of oil. Now, for the first time since 1949, the U.S. is a net exporter of petroleum thanks to fracking technology. America’s new role in global energy markets has already blunted others using energy as a geopolitical weapon.
So, what would happen if America’s next president were to make good on a promise to ban fracking? We know the answer.
Enthusiasms for alternatives aside, solar and wind combined supply less than 2 percent of world energy, while 54 percent still comes from oil and natural gas. Many analysts have pointed to the domestic jobs and revenues that will be lost were America to shut down fracking. But that’s the least of it. Far more significant: removing that quantity of fuel from world markets would trigger the biggest energy price spike in history, and a global recession.
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, and author of the recent report, “The ‘New Energy Economy’: An Exercise in Magical Thinking.” This piece was adapted from City Journal. Follow him on Twitter here.
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