by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Here is a news lead that begins with a bang and ends with a whimper: “The strike on the heartland of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including damage to the world’s biggest petroleum-processing facility, has driven oil prices to their highest level in” — here, Reuters should have used some ellipses of irony — “nearly four months.”
If the United States declines to go to war against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia, our increasingly troublesome client state, one of the reasons for that happy development will be: because we do not need to. It is no longer the case that the world sneezes when the Saudis catch a cold. U.S. interests and Saudi interests remain aligned, broadly, but they are severable.
The high-tech method of mining shale formations for oil and gas colloquially known as “fracking” — though hydraulic fracturing is only a part of it — has been a game-changer for more than one game. While countries such as Germany set headline-grabbing, politics-driven carbon-reduction targets only to woefully fail to achieve them (it is very difficult to greenwash 170 million tons of brown coal), the United States has been relatively successful on that front, reducing energy-related carbon emissions by 14 percent from 2005 to 2017, thanks to natural gas; put another way, fracking has helped the United States to what climate activists ought to consider one of its greatest environmental victories.
When the United States intensified its attention to the Middle East in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the country was heavily dependent on petroleum imports. Today, the United States is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum — thanks to fracking.