Washington — The American Petroleum Institute launched an ad campaign Thursday to warn voters in US battleground states that Democratic presidential candidates' proposals to ban fracking could trigger a recession and job losses across all sectors of the economy.
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Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders and other candidates have proposed ending oil and gas leases on public and private lands, but a full fracking ban is seen as unlikely to pass Congress and survive legal challenges.
A study commissioned by API found that banning fracking nationwide -- representing 95% of current US oil and gas wells -- would cut household incomes by $5,400/year and increase household energy costs by at least $600/year. The study said the US would flip from net oil exporter to importing more than 40% of its crude and refined products by 2030.
In January, Sanders and other lawmakers introduced in Congress the Ban Fracking Act, which would phase in a ban on hydraulic fracturing and immediately block all federal permits on "fracked" oil and natural gas infrastructure, including pipelines, ethane crackers and LNG export terminals.
The bill appears unlikely to become law and would be subject to years of legal challenges if it ever did, but its introduction marked the most extensive legislative proposal to hamper domestic oil and natural gas growth.
API officials said they also doubt a full fracking ban will be implemented, but "we're not taking anything for granted," said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy.
"This fracking ban hasn't just been introduced by an obscure congressman from Vermont," said API President Mike Sommers. "This fracking ban has been introduced by the leading presidential candidate on the Democratic side of the aisle, and that's why we're taking it very seriously. ... It's the center-point of many people's campaigns for president."
Sommers added that ending oil and gas leasing on just federal lands would have significant impacts, particularly in New Mexico.
Platts Analytics views a full ban on US oil and gas production as improbable, but believes a number of policies being pushed by Democratic presidential candidates, including federal permitting prohibitions and emissions regulations, would deter 1.6 million b/d of oil and 2.4 Bcf/d of gas growth.
Platts Analytics currently forecasts US oil output to grow to 14.3 million b/d by 2024 and gas to reach 100 Bcf/d over the same time frame, but a Democrat in the White House could cut that to 12.7 million b/d by 2024, roughly 300,000 b/d below where it is now, and natural gas production to about 97.5 Bcf/d.