The Vail Global Energy Forum and this newspaper’s coverage of the event were a really valuable contribution to the debate on hydraulic fracturing, and I applaud all sides for participating. However, I fear the panel of experts overlooked one of the biggest benefits of domestic oil and gas development: Fracking drives Vladimir Putin crazy.
The president of Russia is known for his intimidation techniques and his frequent denigration of human rights. He is not a man that can be reasoned with, or convinced of a conclusion by using fact-based argument.
Just a few days before Mr. Putin’s tanks and troops invaded Ukraine to bully its new government into submission, Daily Beast columnist Christopher Hickey wrote a column headlined “Why Putin hates fracking.” It explains how much the Russian president is threatened by the advanced energy technologies developed in the U.S. which are now being exported to countries in Europe, including the Ukraine. This is why Putin uses the same talking points as environmental activists when talking about fracking, like when he falsely claimed “black stuff comes out of the tap” after hydraulic fracturing has been used.
Last year, Ukraine took huge strides to wean itself off imported natural gas from Russia after decades of deep dependence. The nation started buying more gas from other European nations and announced massive investments to explore and develop its own gas supplies with fracking and other advanced technologies. Ukrainian officials even predicted the nation would become energy independent by 2020. This is part of a much bigger trend, according to Mr. Hickey’s column, because “the fracking revolution in the United States threatens Russian dominance on several fronts.” In fact, according to another recent article published by the Council on Foreign Relations, “Moscow has the most to lose” from the advanced energy technologies we pioneered in the U.S. and their adoption by other nations.
Mr. Putin’s attacks on hydraulic fracturing in the U.S. go back years, according to the Wall Street Journal. He’s trying to discredit a technology that was first developed in the U.S. in the late 1940s, a technology that has undergone constant improvement since then, and a technology that has been used safely in Colorado and the rest of the U.S. for more than six decades. Why? Because fracking makes it harder for Putin to bully other nations. He’s resorting to the same dishonest tactics that opponents of oil and gas development across the country have been using for decades, make a safe technology sound scary enough that people are misled into banning it.
Unfortunately for Mr. Putin, the shale revolution made possible by hydraulic fracturing is one that has immense benefits for our environment, the prosperity of our country, and our national security, not to mention the promise of a better and more secure future for nations that depend too much on Russia for their energy. Despite Mr. Putin’s propaganda, discussions surrounding fracking’s potential and benefits will only increase in Colorado and around the world.