Earth day

The Importance of Fracking on Earth Day

Lower gas prices probably helped President Obama get re-elected too.


Earth Day 2016 came and went without much fanfare. Instead of the usual doom and gloom about the state of the planet, the headlines on April 22 were dominated by our entertainingly dysfunctional presidential primaries and by Barack Obama's clumsy attempt to rig the British referendum in favor of the U.K. remaining in the terrifyingly dysfunctional European Union. You see, for President Obama there is no problem too small to opine about. Conversely, most problems appear too large for him to fix—just ask those war veterans on the hospital waiting lists, which our Commander in Chief promised to do something about back in 2007.

I thought of our president on Earth Day not only because of his hypocritical and misguided intervention in the electoral process of another sovereign democracy, but because of another promise he made when running for his first term in the White House. I hope some of you still remember those 5 million "green jobs" Obama promised to create in order to "stimulate job growth" and America's transition to green energy. Obama's failure to deliver but a small fraction of those jobs must surely rank—along with the botched launch of Obamacare—as one of his bigger domestic failures.

Yet, the man was re-elected in 2012 and will remain with us until January 2017. Admittedly, the Republicans did have an uninspiring candidate, but Obama, unknowingly, had a trump card in his pocket: the fossil fuel industry. The fracking revolution, which the progressives continue to do everything possible to stop, has massively increased the U.S. production of natural gas.

The price of gas collapsed from its high in 2005 and made energy much more affordable for ordinary Americans. A welcome respite from the lingering effects of the Great Recession may have contributed to Obama's relatively close reelection.

There were other, non-pecuniary, benefits of the fracking revolution. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. CO2 emissions declined from 5,584 million metric tons in 1997, when the Kyoto protocol was signed, to 5,408 million metric tons in 2014 (last year for which Human Progress has data). That's a reduction of 3 percent. Over the same period of time, the U.S. economy grew from $11.9 trillion in 1997 to $17.4 trillion (adjusted for inflation). That's a growth of 46 percent.

Our reliance on coal—the cleanest type of coal produces 215 pounds of CO2 per million Btu of energy, while natural gas produces 117 pounds of CO2 per million Btu of energy—was reduced from 55 percent of energy production in 1997 to 40 percent in 2014. Correspondingly, natural gas use rose from 12 percent to 26 percent over the same time period.

Had the self-declared smartest guy in the room read F.A. Hayek, he would have known that politicians and central planners cannot know where the jobs of the future come from.  Capitalism may not be to Barack Obama's taste, but it may have saved his bacon.

NEXT: Brickbat: Classroom Discipline

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  1. Yesterday's articles all pissed me off. Today is off to a better start.

    1. The regular Reason staffers aren't even awake yet. Give it time.

      1. Frack you, we get articles under this byline often enough to make it a regular.

        1. Marian Tupy?

          I too disagree with the editorial decision to post the announcement under "Reason Staff" but the byline of the article itself is always the author.

          1. yes, Marian Tupy, I've seen more by that byline of late than by the so falled 'regulars' who were posting before I arrived.

            1. Well, I thought by "it" you clearly meant "Reason Staff" but I guess you could refer to actual people as "it" in a very strange way of being gender neutral.

              1. On the internet, no one knows you're actually an algrithm.

                1. More seriously, by "it" I meant the byline. I have no information on the author beyond the handle used (be it a pen name or real name, etc)

  2. Wait. When gas prices drop, it helps the economy. When other prices rise consistently at over 2%, it harms the economy. I just don't get Fed economics.

    1. But prices rising consistently *at* 2% is the Fed's mandated goal of "stability", so I suppose the stuff you cited averages out to keep us in good shape.

      1. Toilet paper rises at 200%, street meat falls at 198%.

    2. Everything goes back to energy cost.....everything.

      Cheap energy is the only reason western economies are more successful than the alternatives.

      1. If only Venezuela had lot of energy resources, like oil, they could have a prosperous economy, too. That is the only thing keeping them from doing well. Their government, culture, and economic system don't matter at all. After all, it's just cheap energy that allows western economies to be more successful than the alternatives. Hong Kong must have some hidden oil and gas reserves that it hasn't let anyone know about.


  3. "...but it may have saved his bacon."


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  6. Barack Obama thinks capitalism is what someone practices when they don't like domed white building

    He is a dumb shit

    1. Can you imagine how utterly confused he is when they have meetings with the fed and banks? He must sit there hearing bells and screams trying to understand what debt service means.
      I'll bet a little devil appears on his shoulders when he hears the word profit motive. He is mentally retarded.

  7. One of my favorite things about Hillary Clinton (sincerely) is that she's been smart enough not to follow Bernie all the way off the fracking cliff. I think somewhere in her shriveled heart she knows that to move off oil and coal can't be done without a strong transition fuel, whether that be natural gas or nuclear. Not that I agree that such a move is necessary, but I give her credit for not living in environmentalist fantasy world where you flip the big green switch and everything runs on solar tomorrow.

    1. Non of these animals believe any of that crap. They really just hate for profit businesses.

      If the world could fly on renewable unicorn piss and free oxygen, they would vilify the company that supplied it.

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