With little and at times fabricated evidence, Big Green activists and their supporters in government have worked hard to undermine the energy revolution underway in the U.S. Exploiting fear and ignorance, they seek to convince Americans that the current natural gas boom propping up the country's sagging economy is despoiling the earth, polluting water supplies and even causing earthquakes. So periodically, it's a good idea to review the substantial concrete benefits from hydraulic fracturing - aka “fracking” - not just the direct benefit to the employers and employees in the industry, but to everyone.
The American Petroleum Institute -- the oil industry's largest trade group -- has released new results from its America's New Energy Future study, conducted by IHS Economics Consulting. The firm measured the benefits that the most technologically advance segment of the oil and gas industry - drilling and production enabled by fracking - generated for government at all levels in recent years.
The bottom line is that fracking is reducing electricity and gas prices, which helps governments do more with less money. For example, America's 14,178 elementary and secondary school districts spent a combined $9 billion to keep the lights and the heat on during the 2012-2013 school year. That's about 12 percent less than the $10.2 billion these utilities would cost schools without the abundant, cheap natural gas that fracking has made available. The savings to schools on gas itself is 21.3 percent, and the savings on electricity is 9.3 percent, according to IHS. In an era of tight state and local government budgets, this is a serious boost because it frees an extra $1.2 billion for educating children and retaining good teachers.
Not counting schools, state and local governments enjoyed 9.5 percent savings on electricity and 21.6 percent on gas, for a total of $720 million. Between public schools and all other operations, fracking has saved state and local governments enough money to hire (or at least to avoid laying off) the equivalent of 25,000 full-time employees. This is to say nothing of the additional tax revenues that fracking has brought to governments in some states.
Obviously, governments aren't the only entities that have buildings to heat, cool and light, computers to operate and water to distribute. In a previously released installment, the ANEF study estimated that between energy savings and income benefits, fracking had added $1,200 in annual real disposable income for each U.S. household in 2012 and would add as much as $3,500 each year by 2025. That's nothing to sneeze at -- Americans will need the extra money, if only to pay for the increased cost of health insurance under Obamacare.
Events in Iraq remind us of the unreliable and precarious nature of America's traditional Middle Eastern sources of energy. Thanks to the revolution occurring here and now, the U.S. will soon out-produce Saudi Arabia and become a net exporter of oil. If there was ever a moment to enjoy, appreciate, save and profit from the safe and clean natural resources below America, this is it.