The definition of rhetoric is “the art of effective expression in speech or writing.” An effective expression seems to be what several Democratic presidential candidates are looking for as they promise to ban fracking if elected in 2020. A complete ban on fracking, whether on federal lands or private, by the president is unlikely. According to a fact-checking article written by Holmes Lybrand:
Without an act of Congress, the President could not issue an outright ban on fracking across the U.S. There are however a number of regulatory and executive actions an administration could take to prevent or shrink the use of fracking technology, particularly on federal land. The problem is that most fracking takes place on private land, and any attempts to limit it would likely face legal challenges.
But nothing is impossible
Mr. Lybrand is saying a complete ban on fracking is improbable, but shutting it down is not impossible. There are ways, such as through regulations, that could essentially render the process of fracking economically infeasible. Why do candidates persist with this rhetoric? One only assumes it is to cash in on the climate-change bandwagon to gain votes. Will their plan succeed? This also seems improbable. Here’s why – First, their stance is very likely to alienate them from voters in swing states and states needed to win the next election. Pennsylvania is one of those “must-win” states. It employs around 320,000 shale workers. Michigan and Ohio also fit into that category with 400,000 shale workers. Aside from the workers, fracking has a major impact on the economies of these states, and likewise the nation. According to the study by the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization:
Gas bills have dropped $13 billion per year from 2007 to 2013 as a result of increased fracking, which adds up to $200 per year for gas-consuming households. Moreover, all types of energy consumers, including commercial, industrial, and electric power consumers, saw economic gains totaling $74 billion per year from increased fracking.
Take a few steps back
It sounds like a complete ban on fracking is going to be a hard position to defend during a debate. Their most likely defense will be environmental. But is a ban good for the environment? A sudden drop in oil and natural gas production would be too much for renewables to handle. Where they are currently in use, they require fossil fuels as backups for sunless, windless days and when the weather is extreme. They are incapable of handling an entire nation’s energy needs. We would be forced to return to coal as a major energy source. Natural gas reduced American emissions; a return to coal would be more than several steps backward in those reductions.
And we have yet to look at the largest obstacle to a fracking ban. The shale boom is the reason our country did not see a major spike in gas and oil costs when the Saudi oil fields were bombed last year. That boom made us an energy-independent nation. Independence from other, more unstable countries equates national security. Warren and Sanders are diminishing their chances of reaching the White House by essentially promising vast unemployment, rising energy costs, jeopardizing national security, and harming the environment.