Ohio Republican Claims Proposed Plastics Ban Would Collapse Oil and Gas Industry

May 24, 2021 Updated: May 25, 2021

A three-year ban on plastics production in legislation being pushed by congressional Democrats would collapse the oil and gas industry, causing major national economic damage, according to Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio).

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to achieve a ban on hydraulic fracturing,” Johnson told The Epoch Times on May 24 regarding Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm’s recent statement that the Biden administration supports a ban on hydraulic fracking for fossil fuels on all public lands. She made the statement in response to a question from the Ohio Republican at an Energy Subcommittee Hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Granholm’s statement has prompted confusion because Biden has previously said he only supports a temporary moratorium of fracking on public lands, rather than a permanent ban.

Fracking is an innovative technology in which horizontal drilling and injection of highly pressurized fluids are employed to access rich stores of petroleum and natural gas that were previously unreachable.

The widespread adoption of the technology by domestic private oil and gas exploration companies in the previous decade was the main factor in making the U.S. energy independent and the world’s top producer of petroleum.

“One way is to outright ban it. A temporary ban or moratorium is just a precursor to what’s coming,” Johnson said. “But you can achieve the same thing by collapsing the oil and gas market so that nobody will hydraulically fracture for the resource.

“Section 902 of the Clean Future Act that is being pushed through the House and Senate by Democrats right now places a three-year moratorium on new permitting for plastics manufacturing.

“If you put a moratorium on plastics manufacturing, what is the feedstock for that? It’s all of the resource that comes up when you are hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.”

A summary prepared by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the bill says Section 902 “places a temporary pause on new permits for facilities that produce plastics, or the raw materials used to produce plastics (such as ethylene and propylene), as well as facilities that repolymerize plastics into chemical feedstocks.”

The section also directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue strict new emissions and production regulations on facilities involved in plastics manufacturing.

An energy department official speaking on background told The Epoch Times: “Secretary Granholm was referring to the [Biden] administration’s temporary pause on new oil and natural gas leasing on public lands and offshore waters, concurrent with a comprehensive review of the federal oil and gas program. This pause doesn’t affect any currently permitted activities.”

Granholm is a former governor of Michigan.

Johnson represents a district in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio that has benefited immensely from fracking-enabled exploration and production of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation of the eastern United States. His district borders Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

But fracking is used nationwide, with 318 of the 358 new wells being drilled last week using the technology, according to Dan Kish, vice president of the Institute for Energy Research, citing data from Princeton Energy Advisors.

“This is crazy what they are going about doing,” Johnson said. “If you collapse the market for oil and gas, that has all kinds of ramifications. You’re talking about thousands and thousands of everyday products Americans use in their daily lives.”

Johnson pointed out that Electric Vehicles (EVs) are heavily dependent upon plastics manufacturing. “So how are you going to make an all-electric vehicle if you ban plastics manufacturing?”

A 2019 analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute projected catastrophic economic damage if fracking is banned in the United States.

“Simply put, a ban on fracking in the United States would be catastrophic for our economy. Our analysis shows that if such a ban were imposed in 2021, by 2025 it would eliminate 19 million jobs and reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $7.1 trillion,” the report states.

“Job losses in major energy producing states would be immediate and severe; in Texas alone, more than three million jobs would be lost. Tax revenue at the local, state, and federal levels would decline by nearly a combined $1.9 trillion, as the ban cuts off a critical source of funding for schools, first responders, infrastructure, and other critical public services.

“Energy prices would also skyrocket under a fracking ban. Natural gas prices would leap by 324 percent, causing household energy bills to more than quadruple. By 2025, motorists would pay twice as much at the pump for gasoline as oil prices spike to $130 per barrel.”

Kish said the widespread use of fracking in U.S. fossil fuel exploration and production demonstrates that advocates of fracking bans are ultimately seeking to end all such energy production.

“When they’re attacking fracking, they’re really attacking drilling. Their focus groups must say more people think fracking is bad than drilling, so that’s what they use,” he said.

Congressional correspondent Mark Tapscott may be reached at mark.tapscott@epochtimes.nyc