Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2013

Center/Program

Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy

Abstract

The United States has surpassed Russia as the world's top natural gas producer,1 and according to the world's most respected energy forecaster, the U.S. will also overtake Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer by 2020.2 This surge in U.S. oil and gas production would have seemed wildly improbable a decade ago. It flows from a revolution in U.S. oil and gas production. Energy companies have learned to tap previously inaccessible oil and gas in shale and other impermeable (or "tight") rock formations.3 To do so, they use "hydraulic fracturing" ("fracturing" or "fracking"), pumping fluid into shale at high pressure to crack the rock and release gas and oil trapped inside. This "shale revolution" has created high-paying drilling jobs, revived the petrochemicals industry as well as other domestic manufacturing, improved our balance of payments, and increased the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy. It has also reduced our reliance on energy imports and enhanced our energy security. In addition, the shale revolution has enabled the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the past seven years-the largest reduction anywhere- by substituting natural gas for coal.

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