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Liam Denning

Fracking Needs a Shakeout, Not a Bailout

Propping up shale wells despite vanishing demand would expose the fallacy of Trump’s “energy dominance” goal.

They don’t need a bailout.

They don’t need a bailout.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

Calls for the Trump administration to provide financial aid for frackers have drawn denunciations of socialism. If anything, with oil trading around just $31 a barrel, the critics don’t go far enough. Because directing state resources into producing yet more of a thing manifestly not in demand isn’t just socialism; it’s the Soviet-grade, tractor-quota good stuff.

There is nothing wrong per se with government stepping in as a last resort when crisis threatens a vital segment of the economy. But you need a clear understanding of what the crisis is, what’s vital and what the objectives are.