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RFK Jr's vow to ban fracking met with intense criticism

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. promised to ban fracking as president despite its economic and energy security benefits.

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. vowed to ban hydraulic fracturing, which is known as fracking, a process of producing oil or natural gas.

Kennedy said in a thread posted on social media that such a ban would come as part of his 10-step plan to "fix the plastics pollution crisis." He added that fracking provides the feedstock for the majority of domestically-produced plastics, which are largely derived from petroleum products and natural gas.

"I told all of you that this guy is anti-freedom," energy expert Alex Epstein said in response to Kennedy's post. "Banning fracking would immediately plunge the US into a depression. And [Kennedy] would do it to 'solve' an amorphous 'plastics crisis.'"

"I know some conservatives who like RFK Jr but this is 100 percent disqualifying," added Isaac Orr, a policy fellow focusing on energy issues at the Center of the American Experiment. "We rightly criticize Biden for limiting oil and gas production but even he hasn’t been this vocal about banning fracking."

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According to the Energy Information Administration, an estimated 2.8 billion barrels, the equivalent of 7.8 million barrels per day, of crude oil were produced directly from tight-oil resources in 2022. The drilling method of fracking is required to reach such tight-oil resources buried deep within subterranean reservoirs.

Overall, roughly 67% of all domestically-produced crude oil — which is the basis of petroleum products — is derived from tight-oil resources, the data showed.

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In addition, fracking has led to a boon in natural gas production in the U.S. over the last decade. Monthly dry shale gas production, as a result, has skyrocketed from about 5 billion cubic feet per day to more than 80 billion cubic feet a day.

"A ban on hydraulic fracturing — a practice that has been used for over 50 years in the United States and other countries — would result in the loss of millions of jobs, price spikes at the gasoline pump and higher electricity costs for all Americans," former Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette wrote in a 2021 report on fracking. 

"Such a ban would eliminate the United States’ status as the top oil and gas producing country and return us to being a net importer of oil and gas by 2025," Brouillette continued. "It would weaken America’s geopolitical standing and negatively impact our national security."

That Department of Energy report concluded that a fracking ban would lead to a 244% increase in natural gas prices, kill 7.7 million jobs, reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $1.1 trillion and lead to $950 billion in labor wage losses.

"Eliminating the primary technology responsible for the growth in United States oil and natural gas production would increase natural gas, transportation fuel and electricity prices initiating a ripple effect of severe consequences to the Nation’s economy, environment, and geopolitical standing," the report stated.

Kennedy's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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