Republican Issues (Sean Parnell)

THE ISSUES

PROTECT PA JOBS

I will fight to keep taxes as low as possible, protecting your earnings and your freedom, and slash regulations to get DC off the necks of Pennsylvania job creators.

I’m from a union family and understand how important unions have been to middle-class families in Pennsylvania. I will always support middle-class working families and defend their rights in the workplace.

After decades of being beholden to OPEC, we are finally energy independent. A net energy exporter, in fact. We need to keep it this way. Fracking creates jobs and keeps us free. I will support Pennsylvania’s energy workers – and I won’t let my party betray them.

FIGHTING FOR VETERANS

Our veterans are the best of us. When they raise their right hand and volunteer to serve our great nation, they do so knowing that they may give their lives in defense of our freedom. When our veterans come home from distant battlefields, they deserve to be thanked on behalf of a grateful nation, but that gratitude must not stop there. Our leaders need to work relentlessly on their behalf to ensure they’re given a fair deal on the home front. They fought for us; now it’s our turn as American citizens to fight for them.

I will never forget the dedication and sacrifice of our nation’s warriors. Veterans who fought and bled for this country should not have to fight and bleed for the healthcare and benefits they were promised. Veterans willingly chose to serve this nation during a time of war; they deserve the right to choose where to get their healthcare. If you like the care you receive at the VA, great. You can keep it. If you don’t, then it should be your right as a veteran to choose where you want to go.

Veterans who deploy to defend the streets of America should not have to return home to sleep on them. I will fight to ensure our veterans stay off the streets and in jobs where they can provide for their families and live the American Dream that they bled to protect.

Election Integrity

As we look at what happened in 2020, we need to work to make sure the voters never again have a reason not to have faith in our electoral process. We need to increase transparency and security to prevent voter fraud by making sure signature verification is taking place on mail-in ballots and promoting stability in the process. There should be no changes by unelected bureaucrats or activist judges within 60 days of the election. Our election workers have a great deal of responsibility and changing the rules of the game on them by proclamation within 60 days places unnecessary burdens on them.

SUPPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT

There are those who spend their time and energy trying to tear our police officers down. They attack them for the uniform they wear. They use their positions of power to advocate for defunding the police and demonizing them, while every day, our police walk out their door to keep the people of their communities safe from those that wish to do us harm.

THE AMERICAN DREAM

America is still the greatest nation in the history of the world. While the radical left is trying to silence free speech, transform our institutions, and roll back our constitutional rights, I will always fight to defend the country I love.

Strengthening our military

As someone who has served in fierce combat, I know firsthand the importance of making sure our troops are supported and well-funded. We need to ensure our military is the strongest fighting force in the world and is used to defend Americans from our enemies, NOT to police every corner of the earth. At the same time, we need to be fully funding our military budget. China and Russia are not backing down, and we need to be prepared to defend ourselves should the need arise.

SECond amendment

“…The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed…” I will fight like hell to protect the right to keep and bear arms, and I reject the notion that society is somehow guilty because a criminal commits a crime. We do not need more gun control laws, we need to enforce the laws we have and give resources to those whose job is to enforce those laws.

HEALTHCARE

I have a pre-existing condition. This is personal to me. I will always protect people with pre-existing conditions and make sure they have the same access to quality health care.

I want Americans to have the freedom to choose a healthcare plan that fits their needs. The best way to drive healthcare costs down is to get people jobs, allow insurance companies to compete across state lines, and allow small companies to band together to get lower rates.

I will defend the good health benefits Pennsylvania’s labor unions have won through negotiation – and fight the liberals who try to take these benefits away.

I believe the more insurance companies have to compete for your business, the more affordable healthcare will be, and it will ultimately empower all Americans to pick a customizable plan that works best for them.

IMMIGRATION

Securing the border is a national security issue, it’s an illegal drugs and guns issue, and it’s a human trafficking issue. We need leaders to admit this is a crisis. President Biden’s failure to acknowledge the problem he created shows the lack of sincerity in addressing our nation’s border security.

If there are members of either party that are serious about fixing our immigration system, I will gladly work with them. But first, we must secure the border.

I will stand up against those who want to open our border and continue to allow for policies like sanctuary cities that circumvent federal law to exist. Those positions are out of step with what the majority of Pennsylvanians believe, and I will always put Pennsylvania first.

fight for the unborn & the supreme court

I am pro-life, and will always vote to protect the unborn. As a US Senator, I will vote to confirm judges who share that view. I will strongly support pieces of legislation like the Born Alive Act, and believe Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the Mexico City policy undermines our moral leadership worldwide.

I disagree with packing the court or confirming justices that will legislate from the bench. We are a country of laws, and the judiciary should enforce them as they are written, not create policy.

SOCIAL SECURITY & MEDICARE

It’s simple, Social Security and Medicare should be protected. People have paid into the program their whole lives, and at the end of the day, they have earned it, and they deserve their Social Security and Medicare at retirement.

Coronavirus May Kill Our Fracking Fever Dream

America’s energy independence was an illusion created by cheap debt. All that’s left to tally is the damage.

Ever since the oil shocks of the 1970s, the idea of energy independence, which in its grandest incarnation meant freedom from the world’s oil-rich trouble spots, has been a dream for Democrats and Republicans alike. It once seemed utterly unattainable — until the advent of fracking, which unleashed a torrent of oil. By early 2019, America was the world’s largest producer of crude oil, surpassing both Saudi Arabia and Russia. And President Trump reveled in the rhetoric: We hadn’t merely achieved independence, his administration said, but rather energy dominance.”

Then came Covid-19, and, on March 8, the sudden and vicious end to the truce between Saudi Arabia and Russia, under which both countries limited production to prop up prices. On March 9, the price of oil plunged by almost a third, its steepest one-day drop in almost 30 years.

As a result, the stocks that make up the S.&P. 500 energy sector fell 20 percent, marking the sector’s largest drop on record. There were rumblings that shale companies would seek a federal lifeline. Whiting Petroleum, whose stock once traded for $150 a share, filed for bankruptcy. Tens of thousands of Texans are being laid off in the Permian Basin and other parts of the state, and the whole industry is bracing for worse.

On the surface, it appears that two unforeseeable and random shocks are threatening our dream.

In reality, the dream was always an illusion, and its collapse was already underway. That’s because oil fracking has never been financially viable. America’s energy independence was built on an industry that is the very definition of dependent — dependent on investors to keeping pouring billions upon billions in capital into money-losing companies to fund their drilling. Investors were willing to do this only as long as oil prices, which are not under America’s control, were high — and when they believed that one day, profits would materialize.

Even before the coronavirus crisis, the spigot was drying up. Now, it has been shut off.

The industry’s lack of profits wasn’t exactly a secret. In early 2015, the hedge fund manager David Einhorn announced at an investment conference that he had looked at the financial statements of 16 publicly traded shale producers and found that from 2006 to 2014, they spent $80 billion more than they received from selling oil. The basic reason is that the amount of oil coming out of a fracked well declines steeply after the first yearmore than 50 percent in year two. To keep growing, companies have to keep plowing billions back into the ground.

The industry’s boosters argue that technological gains, such as drilling ever bigger wells, and clustering wells more tightly together to reduce the cost of moving equipment, eventually would lead to a gusher of profits. Fracking, they said, was just manufacturing, in which process and human intelligence could reduce costs and conquer geology.

Actually, no. The key issue is the “parent child problem. When wells are clustered tightly together, with so-called child wells drilled around the parent, the wells interfere with one another, resulting in less oil, not more. (This may not surprise anyone who is attempting to be productive while working in close quarters with their children.)

The promised profits haven’t materialized. In the first half of 2019, when oil was around $55 a barrel, only a few top-tier companies were profitable. “By now, it should be abundantly clear that the current shale oil business model does not work — even for the very best companies in the industry,” the investment firm SailingStone Capital Partners explained in a recent note.

Policymakers who wanted to tout energy independence disregarded all this, even as investors were starting to lose patience. As early as 2018, some investors had begun to tell companies that they wanted to see free cash flow, and that they were tired of compensation models that rewarded executives with rich paydays for increasing production, but failed to take profits into account. As a result, fracking stocks badly underperformed the market.

But with super-low interest rates, investors in search of yield were still willing to buy debt. Over the past 10 years, the entire energy industry has issued over $400 billion in high-yield debt. “They subprimed the American energy ecosystem,” says a longtime energy market observer.

Even as the public equity and debt markets grew cautious, drilling continued. That’s because one big source of funding didn’t dry up: private equity. And why not? Private equity financiers typically get a 2 percent management fee on funds they can raise, so they are incentivized to take all the money that pension funds, desperate for returns to shore up their promises to retirees, have been willing to give them.

In the Haynesville and the Utica Shales, two major natural gas plays, over half of the drilling is being done by private equity-backed companies; in the oil-rich Permian Basin, it’s about a quarter of the drilling. From 2015 through 2019, private equity firms raised almost $80 billion in funds focused mostly on shale production, according to Barclays.

Until the capital markets began to get suspicious, private equity investors could flip companies they had funded to larger, public companies, making a profitable exit regardless of whether or not the underlying business was making money.

That, too, is ending, as investors in such funds have become disillusioned.

You can see how all of this is playing out by looking at Occidental Petroleum. In 2019, Oxy, as it’s known, topped a competing bid from Chevron and paid $38 billion to take over Anadarko Petroleum, which is one of the major shale companies. Since that time, Oxy’s stock has plummeted almost 80 percent in part due to fears that the Anadarko acquisition is going to prove so wildly unprofitable that it sinks the company.

On March 10, the company announced that it would slash its dividend for the first time since the early 1990s, when Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait sent oil prices plummeting.

Occidental is just one piece of the puzzle. In April, the Energy Information Administration cut its forecast for U.S. oil production, estimating that it will fall both this year and next — suggesting that the days of huge growth in production from shale are over.

On March 10, Scott Sheffield, the chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources, a major driller in the Permian Basin, told Bloomberg that U.S. oil output could fall by more than two million barrels per day by next year if prices remain where they are today.

“This is late ’80s bad,” a close observer of the industry says.

After the United States engaged in a high-stakes negotiation with Russia and Saudi Arabia to curtail production, a tentative deal was struck on Thursday. Certainly, President Trump, who has staked so much on the American shale industry, wants to save it. “We really need Trump to do something or he’s going to lose all the energy states in this election,” Mr. Sheffield told CNBC in late March.

A deal, and higher oil prices, might help the industry. But they won’t fix its fundamental problem with profitability. Energy independence was a fever dream, fed by cheap debt and frothy capital markets.

All that’s left to tally is the environmental and financial damage. In the five years ending in April, there were 215 bankruptcies for oil and gas companies, involving $130 billion in debt, according to the law firm Haynes and Boone. Moody’s, the rating agency, said that in the third quarter of 2019, 91 percent of defaulted U.S. corporate debt was due to oil and gas companies. And North American oil and gas drillers have almost $100 billion of debt that is set to mature in the next four years.

It’s still unclear where most of this debt is held. Some of it has been packaged into so-called collateralized loan obligations, pieces of which are held by hedge funds. Some of it may be on bank balance sheets. Investors in the equity of these companies have already seen the value of their holdings decimated. Pension funds that have poured money into private equity firms may take a hit soon, too. All we know for sure is that fracking company executives and private equity financiers have made a fortune by touting the myth of energy independence — and they won’t be the ones who have to pick up the pieces.

Frackers Face Harsh Reality as Wall Street Backs Away

Key lifeline for smaller operators fades, as losses pile up and prospects dim for big investment returns

The once-powerful partnership between fracking companies and Wall Street is fraying as the industry struggles to attract investors after nearly a decade of losing money.

Frequent infusions of Wall Street capital have sustained the U.S. shale boom. But that largess is running out. New bond and equity deals have dwindled to the lowest level since 2007. Companies raised about $22 billion from equity and debt financing in 2018, less than half the total in 2016 and almost one-third of what they raised in 2012, according to Dealogic.

The loss of that lifeline is forcing shale companies—which have helped to turn the U.S. into an energy superpower—to reduce spending and face the prospect of slower growth. More than a dozen companies have announced spending reductions so far this year, even as crude-oil prices have rallied more than 20% from December lows. More are expected to tighten budgets as they release earnings in coming weeks.

The drop in financial backing is especially being felt by smaller, more indebted drillers. But even larger, better-capitalized frackers are facing renewed investor skepticism about whether they can keep spending in check and still hit growth and cash-flow targets.

Bethany McLean | Saudi America

Bethany McLean discusses her new book which you can purchase here: https://www.strandbooks.com/product/s… The technology of fracking in shale rock — particularly in the Permian Basin in Texas — has transformed America into the world’s top producer of both oil and natural gas. The U.S. is expected to be “energy independent” and a “net exporter” in less than a decade, a move that will upend global politics, destabilize Saudi Arabia, crush Russia’s chokehold over Europe, and finally bolster American power again. Or Will it?

Investigative journalist and bestselling author Bethany McLean digs deep into the cycles of boom and bust that has plagued the American oil industry for the past decade, from the financial wizardry and mysterious death of fracking pioneer Aubrey McClendon, to the speculators who are betting on America’s ascendance and the collapse of OPEC in the great game of geopolitics. McLean finds that fracking is a business built on attracting ever-more gigantic amounts of capital investment, while promises of huge returns have often not borne out. Overeagerness in partaking in a boom can lead to all types of problems and just as she did with the Enron story, in Saudi America McLean points out the reality and the risks of the inflated promises of the fracking boom.