In a related article, I described how even Progressive Europe recognizes the retreat of the US from the global stage and from our responsibilities as a major power. Yet we have the economic and resource capacity to do so much better, as Spiegel International Online notices. Fracking provides an example of both our capacity and of our willful impotence.
The United States is sitting on massive natural gas and oil reserves that have the potential to shift the geopolitical balance in its favor. Worries are increasing in Russia and the Arab states of waning influence and falling market prices.
American drilling experts began using a method called “fracking,” with which oil and gas molecules can be extracted from dense shale rock formations. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the United States will replace Russia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas in only two years. The Americans could also become the world’s top petroleum producers by 2017.
…the boom could generate 600,000 new jobs, and some experts even believe that up to 3 million new jobs could be created in the coming years.
…the United States will benefit the most from the development of shale gas and oil resources. …the political threat potential of oil producers like Iran will decline. Optimists assume that, in about 15 years, the United States will no longer have to send any aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf to guarantee that oil tankers can pass unhindered through the Strait of Hormuz….
However. There’s always a however.
President Barack Obama’s EPA continues to manufacture “investigations” of ground water pollution from fracking where none exists—their Wyoming fiasco, for instance. His EPA continues its war on oil, gas, and coal by instituting output regulations that Congress already had rejected.
Obama continues to slow-walk oil and gas drilling permits on Federal lands and at offshore sites. He has moved to cancel unused oil leases, never caring that the lessees had been reluctant to act on their leases due to uncertainty over Obama’s handling of hydrocarbons generally.
Obama even is slow-walking approval (and that approval is not a foregone conclusion, even now) of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, now that all environmental objections have been cleared with Nebraska’s approval of an alternate route. This pipeline doesn’t directly address the resource explosion that fracking provides, but it remains symptomatic of his administration’s disdain for practical energy self-sufficiency.
It’s very unclear whether we will be allowed to realize the fruits of this technology and to bring into use these vast energy resources.