Editorial: Fracking shown to benefit American families

This 2012 image provided by Stanford University, shows fracking operations at a wellpad overlying the Marcellus Formation in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Stanford University, Rob Jackson)

Just what has the hydraulic fracturing revolution meant to American families? A new study quantifies the benefits of fracking - and they’re impressive.

The Financial Times newspaper conducted the study, which was reported in American Interest magazine.

“Fracking isn’t just helping to boost the energy security of the United States - it’s also raising wages and home prices for people living in shale-rich parts of the country,” American Interest writes.

“Increased oil and gas production in the US is on average worth a net $1,900 per year to households in the areas where activity is highest, according to the first research to break down the impact of the shale boom on individual areas,” the Times reported. “U.S. economists have attempted to pin those down for the first time by comparing counties in shale regions with higher levels of oil and gas production, reflecting the more productive reserves in the rocks under their feet, with counties with lower production.”

Counties with high shale production have, on average, household incomes that are 8 percent higher. Housing values are about 6 percent higher.

It was just a few years ago that President Obama was repeating his mantra: “We can’t just drill out way to lower gas prices.” He went on to say (in 2012) that “ending this cycle of rising gas prices won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight.”

Yet it did.

The effects of the fracking revolution cannot be overstated - fracking changed the world. That’s what a new paper by the Heritage Foundation points out.

“The doubling of U.S. oil production between 2008 and 2015 is an amazing story of American ingenuity, persistence, and, of course, drilling,” Heritage says. “The story is made more amazing by the fact that federal energy policy actively hindered this energy renaissance as it was taking place. In the first few months of the Obama Administration, the Department of the Interior canceled oil and gas lease sales.”

You’ll recall that in 2011, the administration placed much of the nation’s offshore oil and gas reserves off-limits.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s hostility to the oil and gas industry was exemplified by regional administrator and Obama appointee Al Armendariz, who was captured on tape explaining that his policy was to ‘crucify’ select oil and gas firms in order to terrify the others,” Heritage points out.

He failed.

“In spite of the Administration’s policies, the energy sector thrived because of production on private and state-owned lands. As companies in the U.S. drilled their way to low petroleum prices, oil production from the federal estate was stagnant or declining,” Heritage says. “So, it is reasonable to ask: What sort of energy powerhouse could the U.S. be with an energy policy that unleashes America’s total energy potential?”

We may soon find out. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to open more areas to drilling, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is likely to be confirmed as his Energy Secretary.

What we do know now, thanks to that study, is how beneficial the fracking revolution has been for American families.

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