Defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was a key topic during the first and second presidential debates between candidates Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While Trump claimed his plan to fight ISIS was “a secret,” Clinton laid out a more detailed policy plan that included increasing air strikes in Iraq and Syria.
However, a simpler, cheaper, and more effective way to defeat ISIS would be for Clinton and her Democratic Party allies in Congress to defund ISIS by ending the unnecessary and unjustifiable war on hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking.” Contrary to what many environmental zealots say about the alleged dangers of fracking, fracking bans effectively put money into the pockets of terrorist organizations, including ISIS, causing far more harm to human life than fracking ever could.
Oil is the single-largest source of revenue for ISIS. Without oil revenue, ISIS would be severely diminished and unable to finance its costly wars and terrorist activities. According to an article in the Financial Times, “Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’s black flag—it fuels its war machine, provides electricity, and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbors.”
Oil is a global commodity, which means the price of a barrel of oil is more or less the same throughout the entire world. Increasing production in one sector of the globe puts downward pressure on prices in another, and if prices fall, ISIS loses significant funds. Therefore, every barrel of oil produced in the United States exerts downward pressure on the global price of oil while at the same time harming ISIS.
Hydraulic fracturing, coupled with horizontal drilling, is the reason oil production in the United States has grown from about five million barrels a day in 2008 to about 9.4 million barrels per day in 2015, an increase of approximately 85 percent. Fracking is responsible for 51 percent of all domestic oil production, and it is the reason oil production in the United States has increased faster over the past few years than during any other time in history. The dramatic increase in U.S. oil production caused oil prices to crater, falling from more than $100 per barrel in the summer of 2014 to approximately $50 per barrel today, severely impacting the price ISIS can fetch for its oil.
According to the Financial Times article, “Estimates by local traders and engineers put crude production in Isis-held territory at about 34,000–40,000 barrels per day. Oil is sold at the wellhead for between $20 and $45 per barrel, earning the militants an average of $1.5 million per day.” Because ISIS sells oil on the black market at a steep discount, as much as 50 percent less per barrel than the global average, the drop in oil prices from $100 per barrel to $50 per barrel means lower prices cost ISIS up to $1 million every day.
Clinton claims she wants to severely restrict hydraulic fracturing in the United States. For instance, in a Democratic Party debate with Bernie Sanders, Clinton declared, “By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.” Also, during the Democratic convention in June, Clinton advocated for policies that would subject fracking to more federal regulations.
By advocating for regulating and taxing fracking companies out of business, Clinton is effectively supporting, however illogical, a drastic reduction in domestic oil production. Such a policy would put upward pressure on global oil prices, which, in turn, helps ISIS fund its terrorist operations.
Those who would defend Clinton by asserting we can build enough solar or wind capacity to replace oil and natural gas and defund ISIS are suffering from a horrific case of wishful thinking. The Energy Information Administration projects oil and natural gas will account for 33 percent and 29 percent of energy consumption, respectively, in 2040. Meanwhile, renewable energy, which is dominated by hydroelectric power, will only make up 10 percent of energy consumption, meaning we will be reliant on oil and natural gas in the coming decades.
Tough talk about “top secret plans” and bombing ISIS may resonate on the campaign trail, but both candidates have failed to acknowledge the most important weapon the United States has in its arsenal against ISIS is hydraulic fracturing and domestic energy production.
Squandering this incredible opportunity to weaken ISIS and grow the U.S. economy in the name of radical environmentalism is more than foolish; it’s dangerous and irresponsible.