New Republican members were still being sworn in and expressing their desire for bipartisan initiatives, when President Obama said he would veto the Keystone pipeline, ObamaCare fixes, and other bills that run counter to his agenda. Washington’s new “common ground” will be a tricky, dangerous swamp.
Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil prices are below $50 per barrel for the first time since 2009, and natural gas has dropped below $3 per million Btu (or thousand cubic feet). That’s bad news for Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and ISIS, but great news for energy users. Motorists will save billions of dollars in gasoline costs; families, factories, hospitals, schools, and malls will save billions on heating and electricity bills; and industries that are energy-intensive or use hydrocarbons as raw materials will reap huge benefits.
However, drilling and oilfield service companies are being squeezed by high production rates, low prices, and excessive loans; some overcapitalized companies may go bankrupt. Slow global economic growth is reducing demand for American goods and services, and investors are pulling out of “emerging markets.”
Thankfully, most fracking companies are agile and creative. Their technological innovations have driven completion and production costs steadily downward, allowing them to produce oil, gas liquids, and natural gas (methane) from many formations at costs low enough to make a profit even at today’s prices (or lower). When demand picks up and prices again rise, companies can drill and frack new wells or reopen old ones in shale regions within mere weeks, to meet increasing energy needs.
But now the EPA is proposing new rules for conventional and fracked wells. The White House claims the rules are needed to reduce emissions of methane, which it calls a “potent greenhouse gas” that contributes to “dangerous climate change.” The real goal is to put federal bureaucrats in charge of fracking and production on state and private lands, now that they have made most federal lands off limits to drilling.