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More Fracking, or More War?

Public Policy

It’s our choice.

Here is a news lead that begins with a bang and ends with a whimper: “The strike on the heartland of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including damage to the world’s biggest petroleum-processing facility, has driven oil prices to their highest level in” — here, Reuters should have used some ellipses of irony — “nearly four months.”

Four months!

If the United States declines to go to war against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia, our increasingly troublesome client state, one of the reasons for that happy development will be: because we do not need to. It is no longer the case that the world sneezes when the Saudis catch a cold. U.S. interests and Saudi interests remain aligned, broadly, but they are severable.

The high-tech method of mining shale formations for oil and gas colloquially known as “fracking” — though hydraulic fracturing is only a part of it — has been a game-changer for more than one game. While countries such as Germany set headline-grabbing, politics-driven carbon-reduction targets only to woefully fail to achieve them (it is very difficult to greenwash 170 million tons of brown coal), the United States has been relatively successful on that front, reducing energy-related carbon emissions by 14 percent from 2005 to 2017, thanks to natural gas; put another way, fracking has helped the United States to what climate activists ought to consider one of its greatest environmental victories.

When the United States intensified its attention to the Middle East in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the country was heavily dependent on petroleum imports. Today, the United States is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum — thanks to fracking. The pointy-headed guys in the Washington war rooms spend a lot less time worrying about whether tankers can get through the Strait of Hormuz these days. And that means the United States has a much more free hand — and more realistic options — when dealing with Riyadh, Tehran, or any of the other pits of vipers that pass for national capitals in that part of the world.

“No war for oil!” they chanted when George W. Bush’s administration prepared to invade Iraq. It was always a stupid slogan — if we’d wanted to get our hands on that Iraqi oil, we could simply have bought it at a discount rather than pay a horrifying blood premium for it — but now that chant can reasonably be turned back on its authors: If you want less war, then you should want a lot more fracking.

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And not just here in the United States, even though the people of New York State, for example, would be much better off without Governor Andrew Cuomo’s idiotic and politically driven prohibition on the most effective means of petroleum production. Spain has seen its demand for natural gas climb as worldwide production drives prices down, but, thanks to its own Cuomos, the country remains largely dependent on imports from Algeria and Nigeria — even though it sits on reserves that by some estimates are equal to the better part of a century’s consumption. The United Kingdom may be able to extricate itself from the European Union, but if nothing changes, it will remain vulnerable to the same Russian energy pressure as much of Europe. In much the same way that increased petroleum production has given the United States a stronger position vis-à-vis the Middle East, more British and European production means more British and European options.

Set aside the fantasy of “energy independence.” World energy markets are heavily integrated, and it probably is never going to be the case that what happens in Saudi Arabia or Russia or Iran has no effect on U.S., British, or European prices and supplies. And even if that happy state comes to be someday, it is not the case now and will not be the case in the near future: The spare capacity that allows the world petroleum markets to function smoothly provides, at the moment, a margin that is insufficient to cover the production that could realistically be taken offline by a broader Iranian attack on Saudi energy infrastructure. U.S. refineries remain disproportionately optimized for the relatively high-sulfur oil we’ve long imported rather than for the “light sweet” crude we produce. Our own energy infrastructure, and that of the rest of the world, remains far too vulnerable to terrorism and conventional military attack. There is much work to be done.

It all begins with supply. The more supply there is, the more incentive to build out and improve the infrastructure, the more liquid the market, the less fragile the system. There is no substitute for abundance — and a wide choice of providers. Every barrel of oil and cubic foot of natural gas produced outside of the Middle East and Russia makes the United States and its allies better off.

Beady-eyed realpolitik used to mean deferring to the world’s big oil producers when it came to our relations in the Middle East. Now it means being the world’s big oil producer and — once they decide they’ve grown tired of unnecessarily taking on risk while giving up wealth, income, and jobs — helping our British and European allies become bigger players, too. Fracking involves some real environmental challenges — American producers and regulators have developed great skill at dealing with them. The environmental challenges of fracking are manageable. The Saudis and the Iranians are manageable, too, but at a radically higher cost in blood and resources.

Politics is about tradeoffs. We owe it to ourselves to take the smart one.

national review

62 Comments on "More Fracking, or More War?"

  1. Robert Inget on Tue, 24th Sep 2019 11:22 am 

    USD ATTACK update;

    The Federal Reserve sold $105 billion in market repurchase agreements, or repos, on Tuesday in a continued effort to calm money markets and bring interest rates within their intended range.

    The bank offered $75 billion in repos expiring overnight and $30 billion in repos expiring in 14 days. Banks bid for more than was available of each repo, signaling strong demand for the government-backed asset.

    The bank began a streak of repo offerings last week, marking the first time such assets were sold since the 2008 financial crisis. The offerings are set to continue through early October according to the central bank’s schedule.

    Visit the Markets Insider homepage for more stories.

    (It interesting, like the Venezuelan outage, now an attack on Saudi exports this attack on the US Federal reserve is going w/o much notice)

  2. Duncan Idaho on Tue, 24th Sep 2019 11:42 am 

    “in all cases is that the continued production and expansion of capital inherently leads to its own destruction”

  3. Duncan Idaho on Tue, 24th Sep 2019 11:47 am 

    VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short-Term ETN (TVIX)
    NasdaqGS – NasdaqGS Real Time Price. Currency in USD

    14.06+1.03 (+7.90%)
    As of 12:45PM EDT. Market open.
    What did the Fat Boy do today?
    Need to pay attention more–

  4. Jerome Purtzer on Tue, 24th Sep 2019 4:05 pm 

    Is this guy on the Fox News Planet? The US still imports almost one half of it’s oil. Fracking is getting ready to take a nose dive and when the Banks and investors realize that there’s no money in it the collapse will be complete.

  5. Cloggie on Tue, 24th Sep 2019 4:28 pm

    “Johnson wants a Brexit without a deal. He can easily sabotage the new law’s intent by adding conditions or asking the EU for a time frame it would not be willing to concede.

    The court’s judgment gives parliament a few more days to put additional obstacles into Johnson’s way out of the EU. But as both main parties are internally divided about the issue it is likely that only little will be done.

    Parliament should also not count on an endless willingness by the EU to move the Brexit date further and further. The EU no longer cares about Britain. It wants the whole Brexit issue to come to an end, either way, as soon as possible.

    The people of Britain may well have a similar feeling.”

  6. Dooma on Tue, 24th Sep 2019 5:48 pm 

    The above article is typical propaganda and should treated as such.

    Be pragmatic as possible-no matter how much it may give you a thought headache. Don’t blindly follow a particular political party just because. The world is never black & white.

    There are always three sides to a story. Both sides and the truth. The truth lies somewhere in a hard to reach place. We are entering a quite divisive time in journalism…well more than normal.

    So be extra vigilant, cast your loyalty away and act in the best interest of the planet, especially if you love your children and/or grandchildren.

    Fracking not too bad for the environment?


    Water should not be flammable.

  7. Robert Inget on Wed, 25th Sep 2019 10:46 am 

    ers / Chris Wattie

    The Federal Reserve on Wednesday sold another $75 billion in market repurchase agreements, or repos, in a continued effort to calm money markets and bring interest rates within its intended range.

    The round was oversubscribed, signaling strong demand for the asset as banks requested nearly $92 billion in overnight repos.

    The bank began a streak of repo offerings last week, marking the first time such assets were sold since the 2008 financial crisis. The central bank said the offerings would continue through early October.
    Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

    (At least, back in the day, money needed to be actually ‘printed’).

  8. Robert Inget on Wed, 25th Sep 2019 10:53 am 

    Cloggie and I, he from the far right I from the left.
    We share at least one belief.

  9. Cloggie on Wed, 25th Sep 2019 11:12 am 

    “We share at least one belief.”

    Perhaps time to recalibrate your political outlook?

    United Front of Natzis and Commies for Environmental Protection!


  10. Cloggie on Wed, 25th Sep 2019 12:29 pm 

    Incredible pictures of goats climbing a dam for water:

  11. Robert Inget on Fri, 27th Sep 2019 10:28 am 

    Unusual UAE Military Moves

    The UAE plans to carry out a series of military movements across the country this weekend, it was reported on social media on Thursday

    In a message posted on Twitter, the Ministry of Interior advised members of the public not to film the activity and to make way for police units when on public roads.

    The news comes amid heightened tensions in the region following drone and cruise missile attacks on Saudi oil installations on September 14.

  12. Duncan Idaho on Fri, 27th Sep 2019 10:47 am 

    China playing with the Fat Boy—–

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