Why Fracking is Our Best Bet

4 years ago ccwa 2

fracking-boom-benefits-some-small-businesses

I don’t know about the rest of you, but as a college student and an avid watcher of Netflix many of the things I have heard about fracking are negative. We hear about how fracking is extremely destructive environmentally and people are taken advantage of by fracking companies. I wanted to emphasize the changes that are going on around us that we may not be hearing about and dispel some of the myths surrounding fracking while making a strong case for its continued use as a growing method of energy extraction in the United States.

The largest geopolitical advantage to the United States that comes from fracking is increasing our influence on world energy markets and decreasing the influence of other energy exporting states. The United States will soon become the largest producer of fossil fuels and this growth seems set to continue on the back of the shale revolution. But while our production of energy resources will not fully insulate us from world markets, it will help soften the blow caused by unrest in other areas. Turmoil in OPEC countries such as Libya will continue to have an effect on the global oil market, but it would be diminished by an increase in fracking, which would lead to much more stability in the world system and make an embargo such as the one undertaken by the Arab states in the 1970’s extremely difficult.

There are a plethora of advantages to the shale gas revolution and fracking, and it will serve as a driving force for the American and world economy in the years to come. A widely accepted economic standard is that lower energy prices lead to higher growth. Energy prices form much of the overhead for many businesses, and the cheaper these resources are, the more profit and economic growth will increase. Extraction and transportation of these energy resources will also increase economic growth as more workers are hired into this sector. One of the biggest changes we would see in the coming years is the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States. With decreasing energy costs in the United States and rising labor costs across the world, industries have already started moving manufacturing facilities to the United States, even from well-established manufacturing states like Germany.

Our greatest challenge for the future may come in the form of a common market for natural gas. Such a market would set worldwide prices for natural gas and would erase the United States’ competitive advantage in energy, but this sort of market is unlikely in the near future since most gas is transported across pipelines and liquefied natural gas is still much more expensive.  Though such a market could develop as technologies for liquefying and re-gasifying natural gas become more efficient, it will not happen in the near future. Until such a time, the United States will continue to retain a large advantage when it comes to energy costs that will encourage companies to locate energy-intensive manufacturing facilities in the United States, thus increasing the health and growth rate of the United States’ economy.

The environmental advantages of a shale gas revolution are also manifold The main gain would be in the transition of vehicles and power plants to natural gas from other fossil fuels that pollute more. Natural gas is a much more efficient and less polluting method of energy generation than King Coal, and the United States’ fleet of coal burning power plants is quickly being replaced with more efficient and cleaner facilities which can take advantage of abundant natural gas resources. A number of corporate fleets are also transitioning to natural gas fuel because it is cheaper, cleaner and more efficient, and we should continue to see natural gas make waves as more fleets and power plants transition to natural gas and greenhouse gas emissions continue to decrease.

 

This article is a quick summary of what I see as the advantages of the shale gas revolution. For further reading, check out The Natural Gas Revolution: At the Pivot of the World’s Energy Future by Robert Kolb.

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by Alex Pantich

(photo credit: Getty Images)