US would look different without fracking for natural gas, energy secretary says

Dan Brouillette says millions of jobs would be lost and some everyday products would be gone

U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette warned on Wednesday that banning fracking could lead to the elimination of 19 million jobs in the energy industry, which would be “devastating,” especially during a pandemic.

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Speaking on “Mornings with Maria” from Pennsylvania, Brouillette pointed out that the U.S. is now energy independent and no longer “dependent upon the Middle East for the provision of crude oil or gas.”

“We can do things we couldn’t do just 10 or 15 years ago,” Brouillette told host Maria Bartiromo. “And as we exit this pandemic and as we think about what goes on here, the elimination of 19 million jobs in this industry, during a pandemic would be devastating.”

Brouillette was referencing information he said he got from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said that if fracking was eliminated, the country “would lose approximately 19 million jobs.” 

He went on to note that “when we think about the common things that we see and we do every day, all those plexiglass things that you see on people’s desks, guess what they’re made out of? They’re made out of fossil fuels, they’re made out of petrochemicals that come from this particular industry.”

“So when you say you want to end that industry, what you’re saying is, you want to end those products as well and that’s what’s missing in this overall debate down in Washington, D.C.,” Brouillette said.

During last week’s presidential debate, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that he plans to “transition” away from the oil industry because “the oil industry pollutes significantly.”

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Speaking at a campaign event on Monday Biden said, “Let me make it clear. I’m not shutting down oil fields. I’m not eliminating fracking. I’m investing in clean energy.”

In three separate local news interviews in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania on Saturday, Biden stressed that he will not completely ban fracking, but would only ban fracking on federal land.

However, during a 2019 Democratic primary debate, Biden was asked whether there would be "any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?"

"No," Biden responded. "We would -- we would work it out. We would make sure it's eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either -- any fossil fuel."

On Wednesday, Bartiromo pointed to a Wall Street Journal report published on Tuesday that said, according to senior administration officials, President Trump is considering issuing an executive order mandating an economic analysis of fracking. The study would reportedly look at the consequences on the economy if the practice was banned. 

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Brouillette told Bartiromo he “won’t comment” specifically on the executive order “because they’re still in the process of developing it, but what we want to do is study the impact of this technology on the U.S. economy.”

“This is the technology that produced the largest increase in our natural gas production and oil production all across the world,” Brouillette said, adding that the U.S. is “now the largest producer of oil and gas in the world.”

“We’re larger than Saudi Arabia, we’re larger than Russia and much of that production is coming from places like Pennsylvania where I am now,” he continued. “So what we want to do is understand the exact economic impact, if we took that away.”

He added that “there are policymakers in D.C. who want to eliminate not only this technology but the entire fossil fuel industry.”

Brouillette went on to say that “when they say things like that, when they say they want to eliminate oil, when they say they want to eliminate gas, a word to the wise, believe them.”

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“They almost did it with coal during the last three to four years,” he continued. “The industry is on its heels if you will and we’re bringing it back very strongly.”

“But these are very real policies that they’re considering and it’s important for people to consider that,” he stressed.

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Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer, Morgan Phillips and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.