by Michael Bastasch
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders recently told supporters in New York he would impose a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing — a ban that would effectively wipe out the $120 billion in savings Americans saw at the pumps last year.
“In my view, if we are serious about safe and clean drinking water, if we are serious about clean air,” Sanders said at a campaign rally in New York. “If we are serious about combating climate change, we need to put an end to fracking not only in New York and Vermont, but all over this country.”
While Sanders has long been opposed to fracking, this is a new addition to his campaign stump speech. Sanders added a fracking ban to his platform while talking to voters in New York, where fracking is banned, and Pennsylvania, where the well-stimulation technique is opposed by environmentalists.
“I want to applaud you for standing up to Governor [Andrew] Cuomo,” Sanders said, according to ABC News. “What may have been considered unrealistic or pie in the sky just a few years ago has now been achieved in New York because you made it happen.”
But his support for a fracking ban would likely undo one of the greatest benefits of the U.S. oil boom: low gasoline prices.
Americans saved $120 billion at the pump in 2015 because of historically low gas prices. That comes out to about $565 in savings per licensed driver, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
“Today’s gas price savings are even more significant when compared to a few years ago. For example, the most expensive first quarter ever was in 2012, when prices averaged $3.58 per gallon,” according to AAA. “In comparison to that quarter, Americans have saved about $50 billion or $240 per licensed driver during the first three months this year.”
Gas prices started to collapse in 2014 as booming U.S. and OPEC oil production overloaded global markets. As oil prices fell, so did gas prices, and a decision by Saudi Arabia in November, 2014 not to cut production sent prices plummeting even further.
A gallon of gas currently sits around $2 per gallon, which is about $1.30 cheaper than the same time last year.
Sanders wants to stop oil companies from fracking into shale formations deep underground. Environmentalists have opposed fracking for years, arguing it contaminates drinking water and contributes to global warming. But less fracking means higher prices at the pump.
Sanders doesn’t seem to care. In fact, the Vermont lawmaker wants fossil fuel energy to be more expensive so people use less and, instead, use more green energy from solar panels and wind turbines.
In fact, Sanders has proposed taxing carbon dioxide emissions from oil, gas and coal — which make up most of America’s energy supply — as a way to raise government revenue and curb global warming.
The senator’s tax plan includes a carbon tax that starts at $15 per ton and rises to $73 per ton in 2035. Taken in total, Sanders tax plan would cause the average American to lose 12.4 percent of their after-tax income in 2017.