By Tim Benson
A new study from the American Petroleum Institute (API), with modeling data provided by the consulting firm OnLocation, details how a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing (colloquially known as “fracking”) could trigger a recession, would seriously damage U.S. economic and industrial output, considerably increase household energy costs, and make life much harder and costlier for American farmers.
In America’s Progress at Risk: An Economic Analysis of a Ban on Fracking and Federal Leasing for Natural Gas and Oil Development, API argues that a fracking ban would lead to a cumulative loss in gross domestic product (GDP) of $7.1 trillion by 2030, including $1.2 trillion in 2022 alone. Per capita GDP would also decline by $3,500 in 2022, with an annual average decline of $1,950 through 2030. Annual household income would also decline by $5,040.
In 2022 alone, 7.5 million jobs would be lost (almost 5 percent of the U.S. total workforce), while annual job losses would average roughly 3.8 million through 2030. More than 3.6 million jobs would be lost in five states alone in 2022: 1.103 million in Texas, 765,000 in California, 711,000 in Florida, 551,000 in Pennsylvania, and 500,000 in Ohio. States with the highest job losses as a share of overall employment would be North Dakota (76,000), Oklahoma (319,000), New Mexico (149,000), Wyoming (48,000), Louisiana (321,000), West Virginia (109,000), Kansas (208,000), and Colorado (353,000).
Household energy costs would also increase significantly, 14 percent by 2030, even though household energy use is projected to decline by 12 percent. American families would see, on average, a $618 annual increase in their energy costs, as electricity prices would rise by, on average, 20 percent annually. Gasoline prices would also increase by 15 percent.
Farm incomes would decline by 43 percent, with a cumulative loss in farm income of $275 billion, or more than $25 billion on average annually. The costs of wheat farming would increase by 64 percent, while corn farming costs would increase by 54 percent and the costs of soybean farming would increase by 48 percent.
This is not the only recent study to highlight the immense economic costs of a ban on hydraulic fracturing. A report released in November 2019 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute concludes a ban would eliminate 19 million jobs through 2025 and reduce GDP by $7.1 trillion. The report also estimates household incomes would be reduced by $3.7 trillion by 2025. Consumers would be paying $5,661 more per capita for energy and goods and services thanks to a doubling of gasoline prices and a 324 percent increase in the price of natural gas over that same time period.
The fracking revolution of the past dozen years has considerably spurred economic development throughout the United States. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the shale industry alone drove 10 percent of U.S. GDP from 2010 to 2015. In 2018, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, oil and gas extraction accounted for $218 billion of U.S. economic output.
A September 2019 report conducted by Kleinhenz & Associates for the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program shows increased oil and natural gas production from fracking has saved American consumers $1.1 trillion in the decade from 2008 to 2018. This breaks down to more than $900 in annual savings to each American family, or $9,000 in cumulative savings.
Meanwhile, the White House Council of Economic Advisors estimated in October 2019 that fracking saves American families $203 billion annually on gasoline and electricity bills, roughly $2,500 per family. For low-income families, who spend the largest share of their income on energy costs, these savings are very significant. For those families in the lowest income quintile, it represents a savings of 6.8 percent of their total income.
Hydraulic fracturing activity delivers $1,300 to $1,900 in annual benefits to local households, including “a 7 percent increase in average income, driven by rises in wages and royalty payments, a 10 percent increase in employment, and a 6 percent increase in housing prices,” according to a December 2016 study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Another study published in the American Economic Review in April 2017 found “each million dollars of new [oil and gas] production produces $80,000 in wage income and $132,000 in royalty and business income within a county. Within 100 miles, one million dollars of new production generates $257,000 in wages and $286,000 in royalty and business income.”
Hydraulic fracturing enables the cost-effective extraction of once-inaccessible oil and natural gas deposits. These energy sources are abundant, inexpensive, environmentally safe, and can ensure the United States remains a leading energy producer for years to come. Therefore, policymakers across the country should refrain from considering any sort of fracking ban or moratorium, while also making sure not to place unnecessary burdens on the natural gas and oil industries, which are safe and positively impact their states’ economies.
The following documents provide more information about fracking and fossil fuels.
America’s Progress at Risk: An Economic Analysis of a Ban on Fracking and Federal Leasing for Natural Gas and Oil Development
The study from the American Petroleum Institute (conducted by economic modeling firm OnLocation) warns that banning federal leasing and fracking on public and private lands, which some presidential candidates have proposed, would cost up to 7.5 million American jobs in 2022 alone, lead to a cumulative GDP loss of $7.1 trillion by 2030, slash household incomes by $5,400 annually, increase household energy costs by more than $600 per year and reduce farm incomes by 43 percent due to higher energy costs. If a ban is enacted, the U.S. would flip from being a net exporter of oil and petroleum products to importing more than 40 percent of supplies by 2030
What If…Hydraulic Fracturing Were Banned? (2020 Edition)
This study from the Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says a ban on fracking in the United States would be catastrophic for our economy. Their analysis shows that if such a ban were imposed in 2021, by 2025 it would eliminate 19 million jobs and reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product by $7.1 trillion. Tax revenue at the local, state, and federal levels would decline by nearly a combined $1.9 trillion. Natural gas prices would leap by 324 percent, causing household energy bills to more than quadruple. By 2025, motorists would pay twice as much at the pump for gasoline as oil prices spike to $130 per barrel, while less domestic energy production would also mean less energy security.
The Value of U.S. Energy Innovation and Policies Supporting the Shale Revolution
This report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors estimates that increased oil and natural gas production due to the fracking revolution is saving American families a combined $203 billion annually, or around $2,500 per family. On top of this, the fracking revolution is benefitting the environment, lowering energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 527 million metric tons between 2005 and 2017.
Natural Gas Savings to End-users: 2008-2018 A Technical Briefing Paper
This report prepared by Kleinhenz & Associates for the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program shows increased oil and natural gas production from hydraulic fracturing saves American families $203 billion annually on gasoline and electricity bills. This breaks down to $2,500 in savings per family per year.
Debunking Four Persistent Myths about Hydraulic Fracturing
This Heartland Institute Policy Brief by Policy Analyst Timothy Benson and former Heartland communications intern Linnea Lueken outlines the basic elements of the fracking process and then refutes the four most widespread fracking myths, providing lawmakers and the public with the research and data they need to make informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing.
The Local Economic and Welfare Consequences of Hydraulic Fracturing
This comprehensive study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research says fracking brings, on average, $1,300 to $1,900 in annual benefits to local households, including a 7 percent increase in average income, a 10 percent increase in employment, and a 6 percent increase in housing prices.
Local Fiscal Effects of a Drilling Downturn: Local Government Impacts of Decreased Oil and Gas Activity
in Five U.S. Shale Regions
This study from Resources for the Future finds 82 percent of communities in the five largest shale regions in the United States experienced a net fiscal benefit from hydraulic fracturing despite a large drop in oil and natural gas commodity prices starting in 2014.
Impacts of the Natural Gas and Oil Industry on the U.S. Economy in 2015
This study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, shows that the natural gas and oil industry supported 10.3 million U.S. jobs in 2015. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage paid by the natural gas and oil industry, excluding retail station jobs, was $101,181 in 2016, which is nearly 90 percent more than the national average. The study also shows the natural gas and oil industry has had widespread impacts in each of the 50 states.
The U.S. Leads the World in Clean Air: The Case for Environmental Optimism
This paper from the Texas Public Policy Foundation examines how the United States achieved robust economic growth while dramatically reducing emissions of air pollutants. The paper states that these achievements should be celebrated as a public policy success story, but instead the prevailing narrative among political and environmental leaders is one of environmental decline that can only be reversed with a more stringent regulatory approach. Instead, the paper urges for the data to be considered and applied to the narrative.
Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels – Summary for Policymakers
In this fifth volume of the Climate Change Reconsidered series, 117 scientists, economists, and other experts assess the costs and benefits of the use of fossil fuels by reviewing scientific and economic literature on organic chemistry, climate science, public health, economic history, human security, and theoretical studies based on integrated assessment models (IAMs) and cost-benefit analysis (CBA).
The Social Benefits of Fossil Fuels
This Heartland Policy Brief by Joseph Bast and Peter Ferrara documents the many benefits from the historic and still ongoing use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are lifting billions of people out of poverty, reducing all the negative effects of poverty on human health, and vastly improving human well-being and safety by powering labor-saving and life-protecting technologies, such as air conditioning, modern medicine, and cars and trucks. They are dramatically increasing the quantity of food humans produce and improving the reliability of the food supply, directly benefiting human health. Further, fossil fuel emissions are possibly contributing to a “Greening of the Earth,” benefiting all the plants and wildlife on the planet.
Nothing in this Research & Commentary is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information on this subject, visit Environment & Climate News, The Heartland Institute’s website, and PolicyBot, Heartland’s free online research database.