ELLIOT: The war America is winning

We hear plenty about the wars America is losing — ISIS, the war on drugs, the war on poverty, getting the Kardashians off television, etc. But there’s also a war America is winning. Although it is being largely ignored in the presidential campaigns, the United States is winning a very important war, one that affects all of us, every day of our lives, and will for generations.America is winning the energy war. We are winning against the steepest odds and against the most powerful adversaries. We are winning it with a technology, hydraulic fracturing, that has unleashed previously unavailable reserves of oil and natural gas from shale deposits, making the U.S. the world’s leader for both fuels. It is a turnaround so dramatic that it is rightly called the “shale revolution.”The most powerful adversaries against us are the legacy oil-producing countries around the globe, especially the OPEC cartel. The biggest competitor, Saudi Arabia, developed a high-risk strategy almost two years ago to deal with America’s oil resurgence: flood the market to depress oil prices and drive American producers out of business.It was a gamble, and initially it worked: the number of U.S. rigs in production plummeted; many smaller producers left the field. But the ones who remained have made existing wells more productive. In the past, the take from U.S. wells declined by about 90 percent after just four months. Now that figure is 18 percent. Other production costs are falling as well; North American producers can be profitable at far lower prices than just three years ago.Like a Major League Baseball strike, this “war” may sound like a contest between millionaires and billionaires. But in reality the winners are diverse and significant.The most important winners of the shale revolution have been American consumers and workers. Everyone buys gasoline at the pump and buys food, medicine, and other goods that were transported by diesel-powered trains, trucks, or ships. It is exceedingly difficult to consume something in the American household that does not have the price of oil or natural gas baked into the purchase price.Why aren’t Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton talking about it? For Trump, it doesn’t fit into his narrative of America needing his help to be “great again.” In fact, when Trump does talk about energy, he says he will “unleash” America from the Obama administration’s “energy restrictions.” Here Trump means coal, not oil and gas.His focus is on coal for two reasons. First, coal has been hit hard by plunging natural gas prices and Obama’s attacks from an environmental angle. And second, Trump’s attention is on coal workers because when your opponent says politically stupid things like “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” it becomes really, really easy to switch those former Obama voters to Trump.For Clinton, she won’t talk about the energy revolution because, like President Obama, she likes to take credit for the benefits without mentioning the source. Gasoline under $2 a gallon, lower home energy bills, boosts to domestic manufacturing — those are all things that have kept the economy out of the disaster zone. But Clinton’s environmentalist base hates “fracking,” so the Obama administration takes high-profile stands such as opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline while basking in the benefits of the energy boom.Regardless of whether it’s a political talking point on the campaign trail, all of us should know about the century’s signature accomplishment. Our fellow Americans — unaided by a centrally planned economy or even a NASA-like driving agency — have changed our lives for the better. From the gas pump to geopolitics, the energy revolution has turned the world on its head, and America has come out on top.