Have you hugged a fracker today? Our oil expansion keeps us safe from Iranian meddling.

  • In Business
  • 2020-01-14 15:21:03Z
  • By USA TODAY Opinion
Have you hugged a fracker today? Our oil expansion keeps us safe from Iranian meddling.
Have you hugged a fracker today? Our oil expansion keeps us safe from Iranian meddling.  

Right now, the country with the world's biggest oil reserves - Venezuela - is putting out a fraction of its traditional production, as a corrupt and inept socialist government has lost the ability even to keep the golden goose going. Meanwhile, Iraq is in turmoil, Iran is crazy and Saudi Arabia has been looking shaky.

Despite all this, oil and gas prices are holding steady, and while what's going on in the Middle East constitutes a diplomatic crisis, it's nothing like the sort of earthshaking trouble it would have been a decade or two ago.

You can thank the frackers for our energy independence

Why is that? Because frackers have turned the United States from a nation deeply dependent on imported oil to a net exporter and the world's single largest producer of oil and gas.

For decades, U.S. foreign policy and defense strategy revolved around keeping the flow of oil from the Middle East going. Now it's an afterthought. In fact, though the Navy used to have to be able to keep the Strait of Hormuz open so that oil could flow out against possible Iranian efforts to stop it, now the Navy only needs to be able to keep the strait closed, keeping Iran from selling the oil it produces for revenue it desperately needs.

Even an Iranian drone attack that shut down half of Saudi Arabia's output didn't have much impact.

And world markets know that Donald Trump, or any subsequent American president, can quickly boost supplies even further by opening up federal land to hydraulic fracturing, which extracts oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals.

Any effort to block the flow of oil would probably just have the effect of boosting U.S. market share, making the United States even more economically powerful.

That's not just bad news for Iran. It also weakens the hand of Saudi Arabia, which has gone from jihad-encouraging frenemy to a nervous ally as it faces Iran across the Persian Gulf, while its power over the United States is also reduced.

Fracking also drastically undercuts the power of Vladimir Putin, whose economic leverage depends on Russian oil and gas exports.

They're gonna have to compromise: Democrats must embrace shale gas boom to win elections and climate battle

And it's not just the United States undercutting Putin. As Cornell law professor William Jacobson blogged, while everyone was focused on the killing of Iranian terror general Qasem Soleimani, Israel became a natural gas superpower. The new offshore Tamar and Leviathan gas fields give Israel a huge new supply of cheap natural gas, enough to supply its own needs while leaving huge amounts to export.

This is particularly significant because Israel's biggest market is Europe, now dependent on, you guessed it, piped-in gas from Russia. Europe is also starting to receive shipments of natural gas from the United States, once again, courtesy of fracking.

Environmentalists oppose fracking, but it's hard to understand why. Fracking has led to the replacement of coal with cleaner-burning natural gas. United States carbon emissions have fallen largely because of this substitution.

Russia isn't happy about our natural gas success

Putin doesn't like this and has dispatched Russian trolls to try to stop pipelines in the United States, has worked against U.S. fracking and has also tried to block Canadian oil sands development. And he's getting help.

Back in 2017, in response to claims that President Trump was a Putin puppet, scholar Walter Russell Mead commented:

"If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he'd be doing:

►Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
►Blocking oil and gas pipelines
►Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
►Cutting U.S. military spending
►Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia's ally Iran

That Trump is planning to do precisely the opposite of these things may or may not be good policy for the United States, but anybody who thinks this is a Russia appeasement policy has been drinking way too much joy juice.

Barack Obama actually did all of these things, and none of the liberal media now up in arms about Trump ever called Obama a Russian puppet."

Editorial Board: Flaring natural gas turns 'drill, baby, drill' to 'burn, baby, burn'

They don't call the Democratic presidential candidates, who have pretty much all come out against fracking and pipelines, Putin puppets. But what's more likely to strengthen the United States and weaken our adversaries - from Putin to the ayatollahs to the Chinese - than a bigger boost for American energy independence? Someone should ask them why they want to make us weaker and Putin stronger.

In the meantime, as you look at reasonable energy bills and a booming economy in spite of turmoil in the Middle East, give thanks to the people who have made it possible. Have you hugged a fracker today?

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and the author of "The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself," is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Have you hugged a fracker today? U.S. oil expansion is keeping us safe


More Related News

Senate floor belongs to Trump team as defense case opens
Senate floor belongs to Trump team as defense case opens

The floor of the U.S. Senate now belongs to President Donald Trump's lawyers as they push the Republican-led chamber for an acquittal on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress. The president's attorneys will begin their arguments Saturday in the impeachment trial and are expected

After interview, Pompeo cursed at reporter, yelled:
After interview, Pompeo cursed at reporter, yelled: 'Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?'

Sec. Pompeo unloaded on NPR host Mary Louise Kelly after an interview in which she questioned him about Ukraine and other hot-button issues, NPR said.

Pentagon: 34 US troops had brain injuries from Iran
Pentagon: 34 US troops had brain injuries from Iran's strike
  • World
  • 2020-01-24 18:29:47Z

The Pentagon said Friday that 34 U.S. troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries suffered in this month's Iranian missile strike on an Iraqi air base, and that half of the troops have returned to their military duties. Seventeen of the 34 are still under medical observation, according to Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman. President Donald Trump had initially said he was told that no troops had been injured in the Jan. 8 strike.

'Take her out': Recording appears to capture Trump at private dinner saying he wants Ukraine ambassador fired

A recording reviewed by ABC News appears to capture President Donald Trump telling associates he wanted the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired while speaking at a small gathering that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman -- two former business associates of Trump's personal lawyer

Now Testifying for the Prosecution: President Trump
Now Testifying for the Prosecution: President Trump

WASHINGTON -- The House managers prosecuting President Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors have failed so far to persuade Senate Republicans to let them call new witnesses in his impeachment trial. But in their own way, they have come up with a star witness they can bring to the floor: Trump

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Business