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Blame Government and the Greens for Europe's Energy Crisis

There are reasons why European Union member countries never embraced the shale fracking revolution that played such an important role in moving the United States toward energy independence. Most of those reasons had to do with politics and policies, not access to natural resources. Those ill-considered decisions have left Europe in a very difficult position, both politically and economically. It didn’t have to be that way.
But it would be that way in the United States if Barack Obama, Joe Biden and the progressives and environmentalists had gotten—or may yet get—their way.
Wilkes University political science Associate Professor Andreea Maierean published a paper in 2021—before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and decision to push Europe into an energy crisis—highlighting why the shale fracking revolution never caught on in Europe, and particularly Eastern Europe. She writes:

“[I]n Europe, the shale story is one of much talk and little action. In Britain, drilling efforts have run into the skepticism of local planning departments as well as sporadic protests. France has kept a ban on fracking. Germany has not yet agreed to allow the exploration necessary to confirm whether the country’s geology is promising.”

However, Maierean notes, “Eastern Europe looked like the region with the best opportunity in Europe to put the lessons learned in the United States to work in relation to the exploitation of fracking resources.” But even there energy companies willing to apply fracking technology hit roadblocks and obstacles, and eventually pulled out.

It’s easy to see why fracking exploded in the United States. “In short, American regulation and legislation follow process and reward market development, but the outcome differed from state to state.” Thus, “decentralization played an important role in promoting shale development as local and state governments are at the forefront of energy regulation.”

By contrast: “In Eastern Europe, decentralization did not play a major role in fracking regulation as countries in the region are unitary states where most of the competences lie with the central government and only minor issues are within the authority of regions or cities. Natural resources are public property, but the use of proceeds and a lack of transparency when allocating concessions have plagued several projects …”

She concludes, “In the end, aside from the differences in physical characteristics, political and social factors prevented the American experience from being replicable in Eastern Europe. In the near future, the prospects of shale gas exploration in Eastern Europe are slim.”
If the U.S. anti-fracking movement—which we’ve discussed elsewhere—had been more successful, the United States might be facing similar energy challenges as Europe. Instead, we may be part of the solution to Europe’s energy needs.