Three Cheers for Fracking

Yesterday the Department of Energy released a brief report showing that the fracking boom has cut the average household’s energy costs by about $750 a year:

Since June 2014, decreases in crude oil and natural gas prices have reduced household energy costs. According to initial figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the chained consumer price index for urban consumers (C-CPI-U) decreased by 1.2% from June 2014 to February 2016. Lower energy prices had a significant impact on this decrease in spite of increases in the food and shelter components of the overall index, which represent larger shares of household expenses. The overall index edged up 0.6% in March as real crude oil prices rose 18.1%, while natural gas prices continued to decline.

These two DoE charts tell the story:

Energy Chart 1 copy

Energy Chart 2 copy

If you’re an environmentalist, this is obviously a major bummer, and a signal failure of the Obama presidency.

With Bernie Sanders calling for a nationwide ban on fracking, Hillary Clinton should be pressed hard to declare herself very specifically on the issue, and not be allowed to fudge the matter as she is trying to do with coal. Right now she’s trying to straddle the issue, with talk of allowing local communities to decide. This would be fine if the federal government would allow local communities (like, say, Alaska) to decide in favor of resource extraction. Hillary needs to be cornered on her one-way street.