America’s oil and gas industry is under simultaneous assault from two forces: a collapsing American economy and pressures from its biggest market competitors, Russia and Saudi Arabia. It is perhaps not surprising that those two nations have announced increased production to drive prices lower in order to inflict damage on America’s oil and gas industry, which is reeling from the coronavirus-driven recession that has already caused oil prices to collapse. But what is genuinely shocking is that in this time of economic vulnerability and anxiety that any American political leader would still propose a ban on drilling, as presidential candidate Joe Biden did for the first time during last night's Democratic primary debate.
Mr. Biden’s proposal to ban only “new” manufacturing is too cute by half. Just as with manufacturing or farming, fracking is a continual process. So banning “new” output quickly becomes an overall ban. And that would lead to millions of Americans losing jobs, while also increasing U.S. imports, while also helping boost oil prices to the benefit of those nations—especially Russia and Saudi Arabia—that will go on producing the oil the world needs. In these times, leaders in American political life should be exploring ways to help our productive industries—rather than promising to inflict greater damage upon them.
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 new book, Digital Cathedrals. Read more in his latest Manhattan Institute issue brief, Issues 2020: A Fracking Ban Would Trigger Global Recession.
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