Can America Achieve Energy Independence? Only If We Don’t Overregulate…


This article is part of a series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation

In her Liberty Minute titled “Change the Rules,” Helen Krieble examines a way that regulations have held back American energy independence:

I worry about being dependent on foreign countries for our energy. New discoveries of oil and natural gas in the U.S. and new technologies for producing it responsibly have made that possible, yet our own government has made it almost impossible to produce our own energy through burdensome and expensive regulations.

If we look through the lens of liberty we would see that we have the ability to change our own economic future and guarantee our own independence, but also do the same for the world. The struggles of the Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans would be very different if they no longer depended on Russia or the Middle East for their energy. America’s beacon of freedom could light the world not just politically, but economically too.

One method of obtaining natural gas, one of America’s most important energy resources, is hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking.” It involves the injection of water at high pressure into rock formations to expose the oil and gas hidden in the rock. Fracking has enormous potential for both American energy production and a direct economic impact.

The economic benefits of hydraulic fracturing are enormous. When fracking became popular in 2013, natural gas prices dropped 47 percent and caused gas bills to drop by a total of $13 billion. Energy consumers saw a massive economic gain due to increased energy production.

While the economic advantages provided by fracking are undeniable, some on the Left are more concerned about the environment impact. They are worried that accessing natural gas using this method will lead to the nearby groundwater being contaminated, affecting local residents. Although those concerns are legitimate, an Environmental Protection Agency study found that contamination is uncommon.

Still, facts confirming the safety of fracking did not stop the Obama administration from passing regulations in 2015 that industry officials have described as harmful to energy production. Thankfully, a federal judge put those regulations on hold, eventually overturning them. Recently, the Trump administration took the final steps in officially repealing the regulations.

Environmentalists are not backing down, however, and are continuing their fight to overregulate the industry. They have been very critical of President Trump’s position on the issue, claiming he is more interested in big corporations than ordinary Americans. Nevertheless, the President should keep in mind Krieble’s advice on the importance of America’s energy independence. While there may be some minor costs, the benefits of liberating both the United States and, potentially, other parts of the world from dependence on unstable countries for energy greatly outweighs any drawbacks.

Terry Schilling

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.

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