House Committee Fails to Pass Fracking Protection Measure
On Tuesday, House Democrats rejected a resolution that would have affirmed state primacy over the regulation of hydraulic fracking. H. Res. 659 also affirmed opposition to any president unilaterally declaring a fracking moratorium on Federal lands.
During floor debate, Republican lawmakers defended the resolution and highlighted increasing opposition to fracking on the part of politicians and environmental activists.
“In recent weeks many of the Democratic candidates for president have pledged to ban hydraulic fracturing in the United States, a campaign promise straight out of the ‘Keep it in the Ground’ playbook,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R, Ariz.).
“While this widely used practice is often vilified by extreme environmentalists and proponents of the Green New Deal, in fact, hydraulic fracturing is heavily regulated by the states and governed by stringent industry standards throughout the country,” she added.
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican and ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee, introduced the bill yesterday in a move to help protect the industry from any future administrations that might be hostile to energy development.
Proposals to ban fracking have become a recurring theme in the Democratic presidential primary. Fifteen candidates currently in the Democratic primary for president either proposed or supported banning mineral lease sales on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, according to The Washington Post.
Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris have proposed nationwide bans on hydraulic fracking, according to Politico.
Despite environmentalists’ concerns, fracking—and energy development in general—has a small footprint on federal lands. At present, the BLM is leasing only 25.5 million acres for oil and gas development, the lowest number since 1985 and, of the 700 million acres of land managed by the BLM, only 0.07 percent has oil and gas wellpads and associated roads and facilities.
Economic analysis shows that nationwide fracking moratorium would harm consumers. Americans have saved a collective $13 billion on their gas bill each year between 2007 and 2013. According to a report compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2016, a complete fracking ban would reduce the U.S. gross domestic product by $1.6 trillion and raise the cost of living for households $4,000 per year. It would also have impacts on foreign energy exports, potentially making the country more dependent on foreign energy sources.
“Utilizing America’s natural resources is a common-sense step for America’s energy future,” Lesko said. “America must be able to utilize our natural resources for our economy and our national security.”
Industry groups argue that any president who attempted to issue a fracking ban would overstep laws passed by Congress. Any such ban would be likely be challenged in court.