Don’t ban our oil bounty — manage it sustainably

James Coleman

Oil is the commodity that built the modern world and is the most important driver of the world’s economy. That also means oil is our economy’s biggest risk factor: All but one U.S. recession in the past 80 years came after a spike in oil prices. Last week’s attack on Saudi Arabia and the prospect of escalating violence among the Middle East’s oil powers is a dire risk to the world’s prosperity.

We can be thankful that the U.S. oil boom, the biggest the world has ever seen, gives us a tool to manage both the economic and environmental risks of oil production. But the Democratic presidential frontrunners’ plans to simply ban American oil would throw this tool away, endangering world prosperity. Former Vice President Joe Biden says as president he’ll ban new wells on public lands, which produce one-fifth of American oil. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says she’ll ban fracking, which produces two-thirds of American oil. These policies would take nearly all U.S. production off-line. They would be far more devastating to the world economy than any oil crisis the world has seen in decades.

The global economy is more dependent than ever on oil. We are using more oil than ever and nearly all producers are going flat out to meet the needs of a growing economy. Saudi Arabia reports that it can repair the damage from the recent attack and draw down its stockpiles to maintain its oil exports. But more attacks are coming — whether Saudi Arabia retaliates or not, its enemies seem determined to escalate their attacks.

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