Over the last several years, the Obama administration has routinely taken a hostile stance toward fossil fuels. From pushing carbon regulation by regulatory fiat to slow-walking the oil transportation infrastructure necessary to increase American energy security, President Barack Obama has chosen to placate his environmental activist base at virtually every turn. Banning hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” may be the next target on their list.

Fracking is the practice of forcing liquids at high pressure into rock formations in an effort to create cracks, which release trapped oil and natural gas.  Even thought the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) recently noted that “there is no scientific or technical reason to ban hydraulic fracturing,” the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general is set to review pollution risks from fracking in a move that could set up a regulatory showdown between the EPA and oil and gas producers. A handful of municipalities across the United States have responded to pressure from environmental groups and elected to ban the practice altogether.

To be clear, Americans must ensure that any extraction process for natural resources is safe and environmentally responsible. At the same time, we must look for new ways to expand our domestic energy production, rather than attempting to shut it down.

While there are a multitude of economic and national security reasons for creating more energy here in the states, developing America’s domestic energy also happens to be a tremendous tool against tyranny around the globe.

As it happens, countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia and a host of other nations with authoritarian-style regimes derive much of their political and economic power from their oil wealth. America’s dependency on foreign oil has undermined democracy by rewarding the leaders of these nations and their cronies.

The millions of barrels of oil flowing every day from the Bakken formation, the Eagle Ford region and the Permian basin are heavily reliant on the fracking process applied to oil shale. The massive oil production has created tremendous downward pressure on oil prices. As oil prices decline, so does the power of authoritarian regimes around the world.

Oil prices have fallen from around $115 a barrel in June to below $75 this month. Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that Russia is facing a potentially “catastrophic” decline in oil prices. Both Venezuela and Iran have suggested that they will push for OPEC to cut output to combat low oil prices. Speaking in Iran, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez said, “a hundred dollars per barrel is the desirable price for Venezuela.” In short, regimes that are the enemies of economic and individual liberty are starting to squirm.

More importantly, declining oil prices have a direct impact on the terrorist Islamic State which uses oil revenues to fund its military operations on a number of fronts.

America has a clear domestic interest in continuing the energy boom largely made possible by fracking, but we cannot lose sight of those striving against tyranny when we consider our energy production policies. By continuing to grow our domestic energy sources, we have the opportunity to improve our own economy while supporting freedom around the world.

Featured Publications