Energy future looking bright for our country
There hasn't been much good news about America's energy future for many years.
But our nation is experiencing a renaissance in energy production that could make it the world's top oil producer in about 15 years, and it could be the world's largest natural gas producer even sooner than that. Our nation may be nearly self-sufficient in energy production two decades after that.
That was the prediction of the International Energy Agency in its recent annual report.
If the prediction turns out to be true — and energy predictions are difficult — it would be a remarkable reversal.
Those who have been around long enough to remember the OPEC oil crisis of the early 1970s know how vulnerable our nation is when our energy supply is threatened. Long lines to get gas and soaring prices were the outcome of a five-month-long oil export embargo by Middle Eastern nations who disagreed with America's support of Israel. Had it continued, it could have staggered our economy.
The embargo was the first use of oil as a “weapon,” and America since then has sought to become more self-sufficient without success. In fact, it became even more dependent on foreign oil.
That dependence turned the issue of energy into a national security issue for America. The necessity of importing a majority of our oil made us vulnerable. We could in effect be held hostage by oil producers, many of them in the unstable Middle East.
So what is reversing that trend?
It is mainly due to new technology that has made it possible to recover natural gas and oil from areas that were once considered impractical or impossible. This has opened up huge potential supplies of gas and oil in our country. An energy boom currently taking place promises to push us toward self-sufficiency and at the same time provide a huge economic boom.
Programs to increase energy efficiency are also working and reducing the demand that would be expected.
More domestic supply and less demand is good news, but it does not mean we can give up on our efforts to encourage development of renewable alternative sources of energy like solar and wind just because we have expanded sources of carbon-based fuels.
Diversity in energy sources is the key to obtaining and maintaining energy self-sufficiency that will keep others from holding us hostage. This is especially true as other nations, like China, increase their demand for energy.