What If We Banned Frac’ing?

By David Middleton – Re-Blogged From WUWT

Note: This is a politically charged post. If you don’t like such posts, don’t bother reading it.

What would happen if frac’ing was banned?

The short answer: We all freeze in the dark. For the long answer, read the US Chamber of Commerce paper.

The 2016 report was intended to lay out the implications of reckless, if not treasonous, energy policy demands of politicians and activists.


This paper marks the fourth in a series of reports produced by the Energy Institute being released this fall, each taking a substantive look at what might have happened in the past – or could happen in the future – if certain energy-related comments and policy prescriptions put forth by prominent politicians and their supporters were actually adopted. We’re calling it the Energy Accountability Series.

One doesn’t need to look far these days to find platforms or outlets that claim to be definitive “factcheckers” of all manner of utterances candidates make on the campaign trail. On that, the Energy Accountability Series is not reinventing the wheel. What we’re much more interested in – and what we think will be much more valuable to voters – is taking a step back to better understand (and quantify where possible) the real-world, economy-wide consequences of living in a world in which candidates’ rhetoric on critical energy issues were to become reality.

Too often, there is a temptation to dismiss statements made by candidates as things said “off the cuff” or in the “heat of the moment,” or perhaps offered up merely to “appeal to their base.” This is incredibly cynical, and it needs to change. A candidate’s views and the things they say and do to win the support of interest groups have a real impact on how policy is shaped and implemented. That is especially true on energy issues, as groups continue to advance a “Keep It In the Ground” agenda that, if adopted, would force our country to surrender the enormous domestic benefits and global competitive advantages that affordable energy development have made possible.


In this report, we explore what would happen if the politicians and environmental activists got what they say they support: a complete ban on fracking. While many proponents of such a ban may choose to ignore these economic impacts, it is our hope that the general public – including in particular the constituents of the politicians supporting these bans – will not so casually dismiss these findings. The job loss numbers alone that would result from a ban on fracking are enough to encourage greater scrutiny of those who have allied themselves with the “Keep It In the Ground” campaign.


US Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce (CoC) then listed some particularly reckless, if not treasonous, energy policy prescriptions by politicians and activists.

By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic nominee; Mar. 6, 2016

I’m going to pledge to stop fossil fuels.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic nominee; Feb. 5, 2016

Figure 1. “You’re welcome.”

Let me make it as clear as I can be … we are going to ban fracking in 50 states of this country.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt); June 1, 2016

Which is more likely: The “Bern” knowing jack schist about frac’ing? Or the “Bern” thinking that there might be 57 states in this country?

Figure 2. Despite all of his efforts to block oil & gas producion on Federal lands and waters, not even Barrack Hussein Obama could stem the “shale” revolution in any of the 57 states.

There is an urgent need to keep fossil fuels in the ground if we want to protect the planet for future generations.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.); Feb. 11, 2016

There is an urgent need for Jared Huffman to be institutionalized.

[F]rom this point on, anyone proposing a new fracking field … or oil well is, in effect, a climate denier

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org & DNC platform committee member; Sept. 29, 2016

WTF is a “fracking field”? Regarding proposing new oil wells… I denied climate four times in 2019!

Until we fully understand the effects [of fracking], the only way to avoid these risks is to halt fracking entirely

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.); April 22, 2015

Only a fracking idiot would say something that stupid… Oh wait, (D-Wisc.)… ‘Nuff said.

We must keep our United States fossil fuel reserves, owned by the citizens, in the ground.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Nov. 4, 2015

Setting aside the fact the Merkley clearly doesn’t know the difference between reserves and resources… The only way that the citizens can benefit from United States fossil fuel resources is to convert them to reserves and take them out of the ground.

Any serious plan to combat climate change must include a ban on fracking.

Food & Water Watch; June 8, 2016

In which case, Food & Water Watch would be watching food & water disappear from supermarket shelves… Because skyrocketing oil & natural gas prices would quickly make farming and the transportation of food and bottled water to supermarkets unaffordable.

A fracking ban would be a disaster for the U.S. economy, exceeding the economic harm caused by the financial crisis, the housing bust, and the Great Recession – combined. Those concurrent events cost the United States around 8 million jobs. A ban on fracturing would destroy more
than 14 million jobs, all while raising costs for families and considerably reducing American energy security.

Here are a few of the key impacts:

  • “The United States would lose 14.8 million jobs”
  • “Gasoline prices would almost double”
  • “Natural gas prices would skyrocket to over $12 per mmBtu”

This one would be great for me… I work the Gulf of Mexico. At $12/mcf (~mmBtu), there’s a lot of natural gas to be had, and most of it doesn’t require frac’ing. Of course, the same treasonous idiots who would ban frac’ing, would also ban offshore drilling.

  • “U.S. electricity prices would nearly double”

And… As Marcellus/Utica and Texas “shale” gas production took a nose-dive, we would be importing much more of our gas from places like Russia, Qatar, etc.

Other “lowlights”:


2020: “It’s worse. It’s so much worse.”

Is 2020 any better than 2016?

From The Washington Post

“Yes, I support a ban on all hydraulic fracking operations.”

Tulsi Gabbard

“Yes. Fracking is a danger to our water supply. It’s a danger to the air we breathe. It has resulted in more earthquakes. It’s highly explosive. And, to top it off, methane from natural gas is contributing to climate change.”

Bernie Sanders

“Safe fracking is, like clean coal, pure fiction. … No amount of regulation can make it safe. When [Sanders] is in the White House, he is going to ban fracking nationwide and rapidly move to 100 percent clean, sustainable energy.”

Bernie Sanders campaign spokesman

“Yes, we should ban fracking, but that can’t happen instantly. We need to push as hard as possible to make the transition as fast as possible.”

“We need to stop the expansion of all forms of fossil fuel infrastructure and production. Under my administration no new fracking or other types fossil fuel development would occur on public lands, and we would implement a responsible plan to phase out existing operations. We need to responsibly phase out the existing operations in line with a transition to 100% clean energy while investing in workers and communities.”

“The question in all of this is how fast can you change your electricity generation and how can you do it without disrupting the economy.”

“When you think about this, when you think about the percentage that’s fracked, and what the alternatives are, and what it would mean, I’m not sure you can just say there is no fracking for starters. You can say there’s no fracking on federal land. You can say, no new federal leases for fracking. I would do that. I think you can push as hard as possible to make the transition as fast as possible.”

Tom Steyer

“I favor a ban on new fracking and a rapid end to existing fracking so that we can build a 100 percent clean energy society as soon as possible,”

Pete Buttigieg

In the Permian Basin, alone, this would destroy somewhere between $25 and $100 trillion of value.

What the “shale” revolution has delivered

The CoC graphs are a little dated; they are from the EIA’s 2016 Annual Energy Outlook. However, they clearly demonstrate the value of frac’ing, without which our natural gas and crude oil production would have been declining since 2006.

The dominance of the “shale” plays in our natural gas production is unmistakable. In 2000, tight/”shale” gas only comprised about 25% of our production. By 2018, it accounted for over 80% and EIA projects that it will be over 90% by 2050.

Figure 3. U.S. dry natural gas production, trillion cubic feet per year (Tcf/yr). EIA

The Marcellus/Utica formations in the Appalachia region account for nearly half of our “shale” gas production.

Figure 4. U.S. dry “shale” gas production, billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). EIA

A frac’ing ban would immediately lead to a nose dive in natural gas production. Almost all of the growth since 2010 was due to frac’ing:

Figure 5. Appalachia region natural gas production. (US EIA Drilling Productivity Report)

Without frac’ing, natural gas production would have done something like this:

Figure 6. Appalachia decline curve for legacy production. (US EIA Drilling Productivity Report)

The EIA currently projects natural gas prices to trade in the range of $2.33 to $2.54/mmBtu (million Btu) over the next couple of years.

Figure 7. US natural gas prices. EIA

The upper and lower bounds of the 95% confidence interval reflect the uncertainties about demand, production, economic growth, the weather, etc. Even then, the upper bound is $4-5/mmBtu. A frac’ing ban would quickly drive prices back up above where they were in 2005-2008 and higher.

Figure 8. “Yes we can” would have been the correct reply to Barrack Hussein Obama in March 2012.

We had already drilled our way to lower natural gas prices when Obama uttered that particular lie.

A frac’ing ban would drive prices higher than they were in 2005-2008, to over $12/mmBtu.

We drilled our way to lower gasoline prices from 2008 to 2015, by increasing the supply of crude oil.

We can easily drill our way to lower oil prices… Just like we could easily not-drill our way back to higher oil prices.

The Benedict Arnold One-Two Punch

Most of the treasonous Enviromarxist terrorists politicians and activists, demanding a frac’ing ban, are also demanding an end to offshore drilling: A one-two punch knockout blow to our nation’s energy security.

Figure 9. Federal “lands” includes the Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Washington Post

The vast majority of US crude oil production, and all of the growth since 2008, is from the Permian Basin, Gulf of Mexico and various “shale” plays.

Figure 10. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, November 2019

The only one of those regions that wouldn’t be eviscerated by a frac’ing ban, is the Gulf of Mexico. However, a ban on offshore drilling would be a serious “two punch.”

Hurricanes in 2005 (Katrina & Rita) and 2008 (Ike) inflicted extensive damage on Gulf of Mexico oil & gas infrastructure, depressing production by about 250,000 bbl/d from 2006-2008.  The Obama maladministration’s unlawful drilling moratorium and “permitorium” in response to the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill depressed production by about 500,000 bbl/d from 2011-2013.

Figure 11. Gulf of Mexico OCS oil production. US EIA

Since then, Gulf of Mexico oil production has surged to record levels and is expected to top 2 million barrels per day in 2020 as a dozen recent deepwater discoveries are brought online.

Figure 12. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook

While a President Fauxcahontas or Commissar Bernie could inflict similar damage, barring new legislation from Congress, the courts would probably slap her/him down even harder than they slapped Obama down.

About 9.2 million barrels per day of current US oil production comes from tight formations and the Gulf of Mexico.

Figure 13. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Monthly and State Energy Data System

Frac’ing and offshore drilling account for over 75% of current US crude oil production and almost all of the future growth potential for US production and reserves growth.

While an Enviromarxist ban on frac’ing and offshore drilling wouldn’t drop our production to zero-point-zero immediately, the decline would be quick and particularly sharp in the tight formations, like the Permian Basin. Obama’s unlawful Gulf of Mexico moratorium, very quickly dropped production by about 500,000 bbl/d and the 2014-2016 crash in oil prices caused a similar decline in the Permian Basin. A ban on frac’ing would be catastrophic in the Permian Basin. It would be even worse for natural gas. About 70% of current US natural gas production and all of the future growth potential is from “shale” and other tight formations requiring frac’ing.


Anyone calling for frac’ing ban is mentally ill. A frac’ing ban wouldn’t change this:

Figure 14. It’s a fossil fueled world. (2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy).

A frac’ing ban would just drive up oil & natural gas prices, force us to import more crude oil and convert LNG export terminals into import terminals. To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm in The Lost Word, Jurassic Park

A frac’ing ban would be “the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas.”

Any POTUS who tried to enact frac’ing and offshore drilling bans ban would be committing a treasonous act. Our national security is dependent on access to abundant, affordable, useful energy. U.S. crude oil production helped win World Wars I and II.


A frac’ing ban would be a deliberate attempt to sabotage our nation’s energy infrastructure and national security. It would return us to dependence on Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, the Soviet Union Russia, Venezuela and other “friendly” nations for the oil needed to defend this nation.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

US Constitution, Article III, Section 3

A frac’ing ban would be giving “aid and comfort” to the Kremlin, the Mullahs in Tehran and the Communist dictator in Venezuela.

Notes about nomenclature

Fracking vs. frac’ing

Frac’ing is a common well completion procedure that has been safely employed in oil & gas production for more than 70 years. There is no evidence whatsoever that frac’ing has ever polluted groundwater or triggered significant palpable earthquakes. Wastewater injection wells aren’t frac’ing. Frac’ing is a contraction of “hydraulic fracturing”. Fracking is a cleaned up version of the “F” word.

Shale vs. “shale”

I try to put quotation marks around the word shale when I use it in reference to “shale” plays. Many “shale” plays aren’t actually shale.

Is it Shale or not Shale? That is the Question.

In a previous blog on unconventionals, ”Conventional vs. Unconventional Shale: What is my Reservoir?,” Richard Day wrote about the nontrivial problem of classifying reservoirs as conventional or unconventional formations. I would like to continue this topic, as, in Europe, this issue has made it into the headlines of local newspapers. People in small villages have become “experts” in the field of geology, and believe they can determine whether exploration is for conventional or unconventional hydrocarbons, and whether it threatens their tranquillity. If they deem it so, from England to Poland, they voice their concerns.

Personally, if I had a choice, I would prefer to have unconventional drilling in my backyard rather than conventional. The high environmental standards and restrictive regulations give more guarantees that unconventional drilling is more secure and environmentally friendly than conventional drilling. But, sometimes, local people are afraid of whatever we call “shale.” Here, I would like to show examples of rocks that do not meet the definition of shale, but are still perceived as shale. Definitions can be misleading, and the nature of shale is more complex than people believe.


Recently, I was forced to change my presentation because I used the word “shale” for a rock containing over 45% clay minerals (as was reported in an X-ray diffraction (XRD) test and consistent with my petrophysical analysis), but the operator was wary of naming this rock as a “shale.” Shale can be defined as: ”Shale is laminated, indurated (consolidated) rock with > 67% clay-sized materials.” Jackson, J.A. (1997). Glossary of Geology, 4th Ed., American Geological Institute.

While it is always good to have reliable sources of knowledge, please take a look at the mineral composition of known shale gas plays in the U.S., as presented in Fig. 1 – which shows that almost none of the U.S. shale gas plays meet the criteria of the definition given above. According to this definition, there are no shale gas plays in the U.S. “Houston, we have a problem…”



Halliburton Figure 1. ” Ternary diagram of all shales in database. The color represents the individual shale, and the size of the bubble represents the brittleness as determined from XRD data (computed by mineral composition).

About the author of this WUWT post

I have been a geologist/geophysicist in the “climate wrecking” (oil & gas) industry since 1981. I am a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and Houston Geological Society (HGS).


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