Fracking Industry Resorts to Crude Caricatures and Economic Nationalism

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The hydraulic fracturing (fracking)  industry is fighting regulations or outright bans against fracking in a variety of states and localities. There are many reasons to oppose government restrictions on fracking, of course. If a fracking operation can arrange to frack on private land and pay market rates (not subsidized rates) for water, then there is no reason why a private company should not be free to do so. If fracking results in polluting a neighbor’s land or water, the fracking organization in question should be liable in the fashion outlined by Rothbard for dealing with polluters.

One reason to not support fracking, though, is because it is good for “energy independence” or economic nationalism. Both concepts have long been dreams of militarists and economic interventionists who believe that investors, consumers, and private citizens should be dictated to by government as to what they can buy, where they should invest, and whom they should be able to work for. Every now and then, one sees a new article coming from nationalists such as Pat Buchanan who claim that it is a matter of “national security” that the United State attempt autarky in food production, energy production, and, of course, production of the machinery of war.  Since capital and labor move constantly to better accommodate consumers and do not respect national borders, such autarky can only be achieved through government regulation, prohibition, and force.

Thus, you can understand my disappointment when I noticed this video from a pro-fracking industry group called Friends for Safe Energy that argues for freedom in fracking, not because freedom or respect for private property are good things, but because fracking is (allegedly) bad for the Russians. In other words, faced with the option of appealing to basic human rights (such as private property) or appealing to rank and crude nationalism, the fracking group decided to go with the latter:

Why bother with a pro-freedom argument when you can employ nationalistic fear-mongering and ethnic stereotypes instead?

As an argument, this is barely a step up from the “If you Ride Alone You Ride With Hitler” propaganda campaign which lectured Americans about not contributing enough to “energy independence.” They didn’t use that term back then, but that’s what they meant. Yes, it’s true that the stated goal (at least on the surface) of “Friends of Safe Energy” is more freedom for frackers and their clients, but is it necessary to make their case by employing inherently statist canards? It’s also true that there’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to carpool, but we all know that to encourage economic nationalism, whether it’s anti-Hitler or anti-Russian, is to posture against free trade, free association, and consumer freedom.

Not that we should be surprised. Numerous major industries, including the oil industry have long had a very bad record on free trade and free markets. From the sugar industry, to steel, all the way back to Jefferson’s trade embargo, many domestic industries have been more than happy to encourage xenophobia and nationalism to help the bottom line.

Friends for Safe Energy is apparently carrying on this tradition, and if they’re the best we can hope for in making the case for free markets, we are in deep trouble indeed.

Comments

  1. Quote: “Not that we should be surprised. Numerous major industries, including the oil industry have long had a very bad record on free trade and free markets. From the sugar industry, to steel, all the way back to Jefferson’s trade embargo, many domestic industries have been more than happy to encourage xenophobia and nationalism to help the bottom line.
    Friends for Safe Energy is apparently carrying on this tradition, and if they’re the best we can hope for in making the case for free markets, we are in deep trouble indeed.”

    You are directly misrepresenting what the video says. It does NOT support protectionism, but an argument for free use of America’s own natural resources. all other industries you mention were supporting tariffs and quotas. This video does not argue for restriction to Russian gas and oil (although that would be reasonable in terms of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine) And the fact that Putin’s corrupt mafiosi are going to suffer economically from the free market in energy in America is just a smart propaganda. The message is : free the energy market in the USA. Instead to castigate those who want to strangle fracking, (democrats, EPA and pretty much all right thinking people in the country) you are offended by people not being respectful enough to Russian thuggish government and its energy monopolies. Nauseating.

  2. This is about the dumbest, most narrowly religious article I can possibly imagine. One of the MANY arguments for producing more natural gas and petroleum through fracking is Nationalism. So you condemn ALL fracking because of its tiny association with Nationalism?? The word “fruitcake” comes to mind. Being Libertarian is one thing. Being actively anti-American is something else.

    Oh, if you’re actually one of the wackos that BELIEVE, in spite of all objective evidence, that fracking causes pollution, ya kinda owe to the readers to announce your bias early in the article, so we can stop reading.

  3. yeah, only a complete moron would like not to depend for his energy on Vladimir Putin’s good will, and his government monopolies in energy. Bad fracking supporters, you are not nice to comrade Vladimir.

    And “Russians”=Putin’s regime, just to remind you. Gasprom, Rosneft and Transneft (all government-run monopolies that Putin uses for political pressures on neighbors) are not “Russia”. It’s that simple.

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