Less than 10 years ago, America's energy future looked bleak.
World oil prices in 2008 had spiked to more than $100 per barrel of crude.
"Peak oil" -- the theory that the world had already extracted more crude oil than was still left in the ground -- was America's supposed bleak fate. Ten years ago, rising gas prices, spiraling trade deficits and ongoing war in the oil-rich
Despite news of a radically improved but relatively old technology called "fracking" -- drilling into shale rock and injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to hydraulically "fracture" the rock and create seams from which petroleum and natural gas are released -- few saw much hope.
In 2012, when gas prices were hitting $4 a gallon in some areas,
Obama barred new oil and gas permits on federal lands.
But over the last five years, frackers have refined their craft on private properties, finding ever cheaper and more efficient ways to extract huge amounts of crude oil and natural gas from shale rock.
In 2017, despite millions of square miles being off-limits to drillers, America is close to reaching 10 million barrels of crude oil production per day, the highest level in the nation's history. The
When American natural gas (about 20 percent of the world total) and coal (the largest reserves in the world) are factored into the fossil fuel equation, the
While environmentalists worry about polluting the water table and heightening seismic activity through hydraulic fracturing, fracking seems to become more environmentally sensitive each year.
From 2014 to 2016, fracking helped cut the price of gasoline by $1.50 a gallon, saving American drivers an average of more than $1,000 per year.
Due to the fracking of natural gas,
Fracking and cheaper gas are allowing a critical breathing space for strapped American consumers, as alternative energy production and transportation slowly become more efficient and competitive.
Fracking has created a national savings of about 5 million barrels of imported oil per day over the last decade. That translates to roughly $100 billion in annual savings by avoiding foreign oil.
Fracking has allowed the
Fracking has given America virtual energy independence, freeing it from the leverage of unstable and often hostile
Fracking has reduced oil prices and radically weakened America's rivals and enemies. Desperate oil exporters like
What so far constrains Russian President
Until recently, the combination of sanctions (lifted by the Obama administration) and crashing oil prices had nearly bankrupted would-be nuclear power
Friends such as
Fracking is not easy. It requires legally protected property and mineral rights, a natural entrepreneurial spirit, environmental concern and a free-market. In other words, it is an American way of doing business.