Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called for banning fracking to keep its plastics from polluting waterways.
The presidential hopeful made the proposal while announcing his 10-point plan to end the plastics pollution crisis.
Plastic particles in the ground water and water systems have been found to disrupt hormones and even cause cancer in humans.
The United Nations states that 19 to 23 million tons of plastic waste end up into waterways each year, polluting rivers, seas, and lakes worldwide.
Oil products from fracking are manufactured into products that make up the bulk of the plastics found in waterways.
US Economy Reliant on Fracking for Energy
The fracking process involves high pressure injections of water, chemicals, and sand into underground rocks and structures to open fissures for the extraction of oil or gas.
Hydraulic fracking been credited for rejuvenating U.S. domestic oil and natural gas production and for providing millions of jobs nationwide.
The American Petroleum Institute (API), citing Department of Energy data, said up to 95 percent of new wells in the United States employ fracking.
This accounts “for two-thirds of total U.S. marketed natural gas production and about half of U.S. crude oil production,” API said.
According to the Energy Information Administration, an estimated 2.8 billion barrels of oil, the equivalent of 7.8 million barrels per day, were extracted from fracking in 2022.
Roughly 67 percent of all domestically-produced crude oil, which is the basis of petroleum products like plastics, is derived from fracking.
Fracking has also led to a boom in U.S. natural gas production over the last decade, with monthly dry shale gas production skyrocketing from about 5 billion cubic feet per day to more than 80 billion cubic feet a day.
RFK Plans To Reduce Plastic Waste By Halting Fracking
Mr. Kennedy posted his 10-point plan to fix the plastics pollution crisis on Sept. 15 to X, formerly known as Twitter, .
He said that as president, he would first support an extensive international plastics treaty and push legislation to restrict hazardous plastics and chemicals.
The presidential candidate said he would promote a national bottle bill, set up an Extended Producer Responsibility system for packaging, and move to modernize recycling facilities.
He also intends to improve closed-loop recycling systems, limit the construction and expansion of plastic production facilities, end subsidies for plastics makers, and order a major national study to examine all sources of plastic waste.
Mr. Kennedy noted that fracking provides the base elements for the bulk of domestically-produced plastics, largely from crude oil and natural gas byproducts.
“I will ban fracking, which provides the feedstock for most of the plastics produced in the U.S.,” Mr. Kennedy said in his post.
“Fracking has proven to be devastating for rural communities, poisoning water tables.”
“Industry has had 20 years to demonstrate that they can frack safely and responsibly, but has failed to do so,” he added.
Several Democrat-controlled states have already banned fracking, including Vermont, Washington, and Maryland.
In 2021, the New York State legislature approved a bill to codify a ban on fracking despite having one of the largest reserves of frackable lands.
New York is a net importer of natural gas, most of which is piped in from Pennsylvania, even though the Marcellus Shale one of the nation’s largest natural gas formation. It runs through the western part of the state, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Natural gas provided more than 45 percent of the New York’s electricity in 2021, making it the largest source of energy for the Empire State.
Critics Call Fracking Ban Economic Suicide
Meanwhile, critics have raised concerns about Mr. Kennedy’s suggestion to halt fracking, arguing that it would spell the end of U.S. oil exports and lead to higher fuel prices.
The suggestion brought fresh criticism on social media, even from some supporters.
Several social media commentators posted that a ban on fracking was a “dealbreaker” that would lose Mr. Kennedy their vote.
Supporters of fracking say that such bans are a threat to America’s energy independence and would drive the price of oil nationwide above $150 per barrel, while impoverishing state economies reliant on energy resource extraction for revenue.
Anas Alhajji, an oil analyst based in Dallas, said on X that a potential fracking ban would cause crude oil and gas prices to more than double from current levels, with natural gas prices potentially quadrupling.
He said a U.S. fracking ban would result in oil prices spiking to $200 per barrel, gas to $9 per gallon, and natural gas surging to between $9 to $14.
The energy analyst said Mr. Kennedy’s proposal would lead to the complete destruction of the U.S. LNG sector and the total loss of all political and foreign policy gains from America’s role as the world’s largest oil and gas producer.
Most U.S. oil exports would vanish and oil imports would double from a fracking ban.
Mr. Alhajji warned that the United States would then become heavily dependent on foreign countries, including Russia, and oil cartels like OPEC.
This would then result in the deterioration of America’s trade balance and further weaken the U.S. dollar, he said.
“Nothing will make Russia, Iran, and China happier than a fracking ban!” Mr Alhajji wrote, while adding a hashtag to Mr. Kennedy.
He asked whether the presidential hopeful “realizes these issues,” adding “I suggest he asks the experts.”
Another energy expert, Alex Epstein, called Mr. Kennedy “anti-freedom” in an X post, adding, “Banning fracking would immediately plunge the US into a depression. And [Robert Kennedy Jr.] would do it to ‘solve’ an amorphous ‘plastics crisis.'”
DOE Report Supports Deep Drilling Technology
In 2021, former Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette concluded in a DOE report that “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.”