Now that its election season, candidates have once again decided to focus their attention on oil in an effort to gain political support amongst voters. Just recently, presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich made the claim that if he were elected he could drop gas prices down to $2.50 a gallon. By deregulating on/off shore drilling, building the Keystone pipeline and increasing petroleum production by tapping into the vast amount of oil shale reserves throughout the US, Newt Gingrich could deliver on his promise if he’d were to be elected to the oval office. This plan will also decrease our dependency on foreign oil from unfriendly nations within the Middle East; most notable Iran. Gingrich’s proposal resonates loudly amongst voters who are worried about their saving and high unemployment, but is it practical?
Gingrich’s propositions are mostly based on oil shale extraction called hydraulic fracking, a refinement method that carries enormous ecological repercussions. According to environmental experts fracking can be linked to dozens of ground water contamination resulting in high levels of methane in the affected areas drinking water. Chemical that are used during the extraction process manages to seep into the natural aquifers making the tap water unsuitable for drinking. Residents in and around natural gas pumps post videos of igniting running tap water with a cigarette lighter.
In the end, most analyst discredit Gingrich’s ability to deliver on such a promise. A fact check done by NPR states that, “Gas prices follow oil prices, and oil prices have been rising. The price of the foreign oil that's imported by most U.S. refineries and turned into gasoline and other fuels has risen 11 percent so far this year, to about $119 a barrel, because of tensions with Iran, a cold snap in Europe and rising demand from developing nations. Oil produced in the U.S. and used by refineries in the middle of the country to produce gasoline is up 4 percent to about $103 a barrel, 19 percent higher than a year earlier. No presidential "big idea" can reverse those forces.”