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Election Year Choices

Posted on November 8, 2016 in James A. Gibbs, Producer Articles

On the threshold of the November elections, we are being assailed by both major presidential candidates with charges and counter-charges, uninformed rhetoric and strident babble. Neither candidate appears willing or able to discuss energy matters with reason, nor almost any other major issue.

The creativity and ingenuity of American geoscientists and engineers have led the world in unlocking the secrets of tapping underground vaults of energy. The technology of horizontal drilling combined with the 60-year-old technology of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) have been almost miraculous in creating riches that were unknown or untapped before. The individuals and companies that manage the drilling, extraction, and refining of the products have actually created real wealth, not just printed paper funny-money or redistributed currency that is already in circulation. In the process they have also created hundreds of thousands of high paying new jobs, putting millions of dollars in the pockets of workers and their families.

America’s abundant and available natural resources have provided us with energy that is effective and economical, giving us energy security and a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. They are riches that should be managed and maximized to the benefit of our nation. They can be shipped to other countries, bringing balance to our trade deficit and offering secure supplies to our friends. Locking them up will make us more dependent on foreign countries which are hostile toward our interests, thereby hurting our allies and our balance of payments.

There is just cause for celebration by all Americans! Abundant oil and natural gas supplies are also providing reliable supplies of gas-generated electricity for homes and businesses, lower gasoline prices at the pump with no worries about restricted quantities, and no fears that shortages will contribute inflationary pressures on the economy.

Yet almost throughout the entire “shale revolution” of the last decade, the oil and gas industry has been pulling its load uphill, against an administration that has done its best to hamper, cripple and ultimately decimate the creative and productive forces that provide bountiful benefits to its citizens. What it could not do through Congress, it has tried to do through executive mandates, the EPA, the Corp of Engineers, and a host of other governmental agencies. Its tactics have been to deny or delay permits, issue injunctions, and slow or stop industry activities in any way possible, occasionally acting against existing laws, regulations and policies.

The veto against construction of the Keystone Pipeline was one of the first of many administrative blows against the industry. Not only did it deny the operators drilling Bakken wells in the prolific Williston Basin of Montana and North Dakota a safe and economic method of moving their oil to market, it served to alienate our closest neighbor and trading partner, Canada, by slamming shut a means of getting its heavy oil to our refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The recent attempt of sabotage was to halt construction of the multi-billion dollar 1,172-mile Dakota Pipeline that runs from the North Dakota Bakken region to connecting pipelines in Illinois. It had previously been granted approval by all governmental agencies and was more than half completed when it was interrupted. Fortunately, a federal judge ultimately lifted the injunction and construction resumed. Meanwhile, the delay wasted millions of investors’ dollars.

The presidential election will have a big impact on the future direction of fracking regulations. At a March debate in Flint, Michigan, Secretary Hillary Clinton gleefully stated: “By the time we get through all of my conditions I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.” In contrast, Donald Trump agrees with the courts and says fracking should be regulated by the states.

Realize that the attacks against hydraulic fracturing are not really about fracking. They are a covert way to halt domestic oil and natural gas development, as more than 95 percent of the wells drilled in America today use the technology. America’s new era of energy abundance is the direct result of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Ban fracking, and you’ve essentially banned U.S. Energy Independence.

For this election, understanding energy is essential. The energy environment under the current administration has offered little to cheer about, except “it could have been worse.” Make your election choices wisely.