Report: “Keep-It-In-The-Ground” Fracking Ban on Federal Lands Would Have “Severe” Impact on U.S. Economy

A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy finds that the “Keep It in The Ground” (KIITG) movement’s goal of ending fossil fuel energy development on federal lands would have an “immediate and severe” impact on the U.S. economy.

The report is the first in a series dubbed the “Energy Accountability Series,” that promises to take “a substantive look at what would happen if energy proposals from candidates and interest groups were actually adopted.” From the report:

“Instituting a ban on future federal-lands leasing and stopping the current production of these resources would increase energy prices for consumers by removing low-cost resources from the available supply stream. The impact would be immediate and severe to the U.S. economy, leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and robbing the federal government and primarily eastern states of potentially billions of dollars in revenues in the form of lost royalties.” (emphasis added)

Nationwide, the analysis finds that stopping energy development on federal lands would result in a loss of “nearly a quarter of the nation’s current production of coal, oil and natural gas,” more than “$11.3 billion per year in annual royalties and rental fees for federal and state governments,” and a loss of “more than 100,000 direct jobs” and another “280,000 indirect and induced jobs.”  And as the report illustrates, the impacts would hit western and gulf coast states especially hard. As the press release announcing the report highlights:

“For instance, Wyoming would lose $900 million in annual royalty collections—which represents 20 percent of the state’s annual expenditures. New Mexico could lose $500 million—8 percent of the state’s total General Fund Revenues. Colorado would see the loss of 50,000 jobs, while the Gulf States (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama) would see 110,000 fewer jobs.”

The KIITG movement is largely supported by anti-fracking activist groups that have been staging protests in Colorado, Ohio, Utah, Nevada, and elsewhere in an attempt to block or stop federal mineral lease auctions. And as the report points out, the fringe ideology and goals of these groups has been making its way into campaign rhetoric and even enjoys the support of “more than 20 lawmakers in the Senate and House supporting the ‘Keep It In the Ground’ Act, which would ban oil, natural gas and coal leasing on federal lands as a first step toward banning fossil-fuel production everywhere.” But as the report also highlights, ending energy development on federal lands would come at a major cost to state and local governments:

“Royalties generated from energy production on federal lands are a significant source of revenue for the federal government as well as state and local governments, helping to balance budgets and fund education, infrastructure, public safety and other critical projects. More than $57 billion was distributed to various federal and state funds from federal lands development over the last five years alone”

And the report shows how revenues from generated from energy development on federal lands are also bolstering federal budgets:

“The U.S. government collected $7.2 billion in royalties from fossil fuel production on federal lands in 2015 and a cumulative $46.5 billion from 2011 to 2015 – enough to fund the budgets of the EPA or the Army Corps of Engineers over that time.”

Fortunately, KIITG is facing an uphill battle.  As EID has pointed out, many of our nation’s leading Democrats like Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper not only support fracking, but extol the process as the “very best and safest extraction technique” and  has pointed to the increased use of natural as the “only realistic way” to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) – one of the leading climate change activists of the past 40 years — has said that a ban on fracking “doesn’t make a lot of sense”, noting that the process uses much less water than activists claim and that a ban would increase California’s reliance on foreign oil.

John Podesta, a top advisor to Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has said that opposing all fossil fuels is “completely impractical

“Asked about the criticism, Podesta spoke generally, saying the country would benefit if more power plants relied on gas.

‘So I think we remain committed to developing the resource and using it, and we think there’s an advantage, particularly in the electricity generation sector, to move it forward,” he said.”

As this new report demonstrates, KIITG activists and their supporters in Washington should consider the impacts their extreme agenda would impose on state and local governments and important federal programs. Authentic local concerned citizens understand this.  That’s why elected officials, statewide groups, local stakeholders and even our nation’s most prominent Democrats continue to speak out in opposition to this radical and misguided campaign.




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