I recently traveled to Tallahassee Florida to give a presentation on fracking and energy policy for the Florida State University College Libertarians. My main theme was that fracking, not renewable energy, is the true energy revolution of our time, and today’s Today in Energy, published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration confirms my thesis.
The graph below shows crude oil production in the United States from 1920 through August of 2018. As you can see, the United States had never produced more oil than it did in August, and this is directly due to hydraulic fracturing, often called “fracking.”
In fact, U.S. crude oil production reached 11.3 million barrels per day (b/d), which means we produced more oil than Russia or Saudi Arabia. When it comes to oil, fracking makes America number one. It’s the same story with natural gas. Fracking has made the United States is the world’s largest producer, and our country will soon be a net exporter of energy.
The fact that the U.S. would become an energy superpower was unthinkable ten years ago. President Obama famously said the United States could not drill its way to lower prices. He was wrong, but then again, almost all of the energy experts were wrong.
Fracking shows what a technological disruption in the energy truly looks like, a rapid adoption of new technology that lowers prices for consumers regardless of the hurdles placed in front of it by governments and attempts to squash it by vested players in established industries like OPEC.
Fracking also shows us what technological disruptions don’t look like, and wind and solar fit this bill. Despite decades of subsidies and tens of billions of squandered taxpayer dollars, and state laws requiring their use, these sources of energy simply cannot compete in terms of reliability or affordability of fossil fuels.
This is simply because wind and solar are dumb sources of energy. When the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, we switch on the natural gas plants to make sure the lights stay on, the hospitals can run at full speed, and the schools can remain open.
Viva fracking, auf wiedersehen, wind and solar.