President Trump Issues a Memorandum Requiring the Department of Energy to Assess the Economic and National Security Impacts of Fracking
Nov 9, 2020
Last week, we reported that President Trump had been considering issuing an Executive Order on the analysis of fracking economics. On Halloween, the White Houses did release a memorandum to that end, setting forth policies related to protecting American jobs, economic opportunities, and national security by ensuring appropriate support of hydraulic fracturing and other innovative technologies for the use of domestic natural resources, including energy resources.
The memorandum specifically says that within 70 days, the Secretary of Energy shall submit a report to the President assessing the economic and national security impacts of prohibiting or restricting the use of fracking technologies. The memorandum reinforces Executive Order 13211, which was issued on May 18, 2001 by President George W. Bush, entitled “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use.” The Executive Order required that agencies provide detailed statements of energy effects when undertaking certain agency actions that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the supply, distribution, or use of energy.
This memorandum came just days before the national Presidential election when Pennsylvania was accurately expected to be a major battleground state. Pennsylvania is one of the top states in the nation to use fracking technology and reaps many economic advantages in doing so. The timing of the release of the memorandum from the White House just before the election is seen by some as an effort by the President to capture Pennsylvania voters.
As a reminder, fracturing, or more accurately hydraulic fracturing, is an advanced technological method that can be used to extract oil and gas from the earth. However, there have been widespread reports and analysis done of how the technology is potentially harmful to humans due to its association with drinking water contamination. Because of this link, environmental and safety groups have long fought the use of fracking technology in energy mining as they believe the health and environmental risks far outweigh the economic benefits.
In a statement on the memorandum, Energy Secretary Brouillette says: “Today President Trump once again reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to the American energy industry. It is technology like fracking that unleashed America’s natural resources and made us the number one producer of oil and gas in the world, bringing an eight-fold increase in natural gas productivity since 2007, while also creating millions of jobs and reducing the price of gas by 63%. A ban on fracking would result in the loss of millions of jobs, the doubling of gasoline prices, and the quadrupling of electricity costs. The Department of Energy will swiftly and thoroughly execute our tasks as directed by President Trump today to evaluate the importance of maintaining this technology. Under President Trump’s leadership, we will continue to move forward-not backward-and ensure American energy remains the envy of the world.”