Many commentators and influencers on the Right have found themselves enchanted with Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., due to his skepticism of things like COVID-19 lockdowns. But the long-time environmental activist just reminded us of his progressive bona fides—by staking out a painfully misguided policy position.
RFK called for a ban on fracking, a drilling technique used to extract natural resources from the ground, as part of his plan to end what he sees as a crisis in plastic pollution.
This isn’t a novel position. Progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have long called to ban fracking in the name of environmentalism. Yet it’s a terrible, self-defeating idea that would have dire economic (and environmental) consequences.
Likely cause a dire recession and hurt consumers
Banning fracking would hurt consumers and likely cause a massive recession.
According to the Manhattan Institute, banning fracking would lead to a 7% decrease in the global oil supply and a 17% decrease in the global gas supply. This would lead to a 200% increase in gas prices, costing the average American family $1,000 more annually at the gas pump.
So, too, it would most likely cause a massive global recession. This isn’t pure speculation, because we have clear historical precedent. As the Manhattan Institute notes, in 1973, Saudi Arabia enacted an oil embargo that took roughly 7% of the global oil supply off the market. The result: “world oil prices jumped 400% and triggered a global recession.” Something similar happened in 1979 when Iran took 5% off the market.
Likely increase CO2 emissions
The push to ban fracking comes from the types of environmental activists who are very concerned about climate change. But, ironically, banning fracking would most likely lead to an increase in carbon emissions, at least in the short term.
Why? Well, because to continue to meet our energy needs without fracking, we would need to fire up coal power plants, which have significantly higher emissions than the natural gas power plants that rely on fracking.
A 2021 report from the Department of Energy found that, “In the first year of a ban, the country would see a year-over-year increase in carbon dioxide (CO2)…. emissions with these emissions rising 16 percent. This outcome undermines the considerable progress the United States power generation sector has made in cutting emissions by 30 percent… for CO2… during the 2005 to 2019 time period.”
The economic and environmental benefits of fracking, although like anything it certainly has its costs/downsides, are so strong that even the progressive media outlet Vox reported: “Natural gas obtained by fracking has reduced emissions, aided the economy, and helped clean energy rise, while costing less than dirtier fuels.”
So, banning fracking would devastate the economy, hit consumers with a gut punch, and probably increase C02 emissions. Other than that, it’s really a great idea, RFK Jr.