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US ELECTIONS: Republicans warn of fracking ban, oil and gas jobs loss, on day one of convention


Biden, Democratic platform steer clear of fracking ban

Limits on federal lands could crimp gas production growth

  • Author
  • Maya Weber    Jack Winters
  • Editor
  • James Bambino
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas
  • Topic
  • 2020 US Elections

During the first night of the GOP convention, Republicans asserted that Democrats will ban hydraulic fracking, thereby decimating US oil and gas jobs, in spite of leading Democrats' pullback from that more aggressive stance toward oil and gas production.

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The warning by convention speakers Aug. 24, confirmed that contrasts over oil and gas development remain an important 2020 campaign theme for Republicans and President Donald Trump.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised to halt oil and gas permitting on federal lands and waters and to seek to end oil and gas subsidies, but has steered clear of calls for a broader ban on hydraulic fracturing. The recently adopted Democratic Party platform embraced ambitious climate goals, but also left off a fracking prohibition and cuts to subsidies favored by more progressive activists.

Fossil fuels

In her Day 1 convention speech, Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee chair, said Democrats at their convention spent a lot of time talking about how much they despise the president. "But we heard very little about their actual policies, policies that would have been unthinkable a decade ago — policies like banning fossil fuels, eliminating private health insurance, taxpayer funded healthcare for people who come here illegally and defunding the police," she said.

Contending that Democrats' argument boiled down to the view that Biden's a nice guy, she charged that "eliminating 10 million good-paying oil and gas jobs is not nice."

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also hit on that theme as she cast former Vice President Joe Biden as being controlled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Bernie Sanders, Democrat-Vermont, and "the Squad," a reference to four freshman Democratic lawmakers including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York.

"Their vision for America is socialism. ... They want a government takeover of health care. They want to ban fracking and kill millions of jobs," she said.

President Donald Trump in a late-July Texas appearance similarly claimed Democrats want to "have no fracking, no nothing." He added: "The policies required to implement this extreme agenda would mean the death of American prosperity and the end of the American middle class."

Biden documents

Biden appears to leave room in his campaign documents to allow for a continuation of natural gas as part of the fuel mix. For instance, he backs investment in technologies such as carbon sequestration, utilization and storage that could help extend the life of fossil fuels in a lower carbon framework.

Still, restrictions on future drilling on public lands could have an effect on production growth, particularly in the Permian Delaware-New Mexico Basin and Gulf Coast offshore region.

While production outlooks for associated gas are flat in the near term due to the recent oil price collapse, longer term growth is still expected to be dominated by associated gas production. A ban on drilling permits on federal land places these longer term growth outlooks at risk, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.