Energy – For Life, Liberty and Happiness
Posted July 3, 2014
Happy Fourth of July, America!
Celebrating Independence Day takes many forms – cookouts, fireworks, community parades, family gatherings and more. It’s also celebrating the uniqueness of America, founded on the notion that all are deserving of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness …”
This being an energy blog, let’s connect energy and the elements enshrined in the Declaration. Many things combine to produce and protect our liberty, our freedom. Secure energy is one of them, and America’s energy revolution, built on surging production of domestic oil and natural gas, is making energy security a reality. Supporting facts:
- In March of 2014 U.S. crude oil production was at its highest level since May of 1988. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that by next year the U.S. will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia in crude oil output.
- U.S. natural gas production in 2013 was at its highest level ever.
- U.S. net imports of crude oil and petroleum products in 2013 were at their lowest level since 1988.
- Domestic production satisfied 84 percent of total U.S. energy demand in 2013.
That 84 percent stat and the net crude imports stat, both from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), are significant. Energy self-sufficiency is within view. That’s the point where U.S. reliance on imports virtually disappears. We say virtually because the U.S. always will be involved in the global crude market. Yet, as EIA notes, net imports as a percentage share of overall petroleum and other liquids use could approach zero by 2040 – visible in the bottom line of this EIA chart:
Another exciting point: With the right energy decisions, we could see 100 percent of our liquid fuel needs supplied by North American sources by 2024.
Energy security means opportunity for Americans to pursue jobs, careers and dreams – free of the constraints dictated by limited energy resources. That’s liberty in a very real sense, starkly contrasted with the reality of scarcity Americans faced before this energy revolution was launched. It was launched and continues to this day largely because the marriage of advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has unlocked vast oil and natural gas reserves held in shale and other tight-rock formations. It’s seen in projections by IEA, EIA and others.
These fuels are dominant now and will be in the future because, simply, they’re the most affordable, abundant and reliable energy sources in the world. They make modern living possible. Our economy and standard of living are based on oil and natural gas because they’re energy-rich and mobile. They create opportunity for safer, healthier lives by taking us where we need to go, by heating and cooling our homes, by making possible the manufacture of modern medicines and health-care equipment. They make our environment livable, and natural gas use, in particular, is helping make our air cleaner.
American energy means liberty in an individual sense as well. The oil and natural gas industry supports 9.8 million jobs and is a robust job creator in the post-recession economy. These are well-paying jobs along promising career paths, especially for women and minorities. A good job, a good career, can be the very heart of economic liberty and a facilitator of happiness.
Besides jobs, U.S. energy is helping individuals and families, with studies pointing to an increase in disposable income for the average American household and billions in savings to local school districts and state and local governments.
In a very real sense life, liberty and happiness are nearer to every American because of the energy gains we’ve made, and these gains can continue if we choose energy. That means policy choices that increase access to domestic oil and natural gas reserves and that spur investment in needed energy infrastructure. Developing our energy wealth will provide Americans with more opportunity and make us freer and more secure in the world. It’s our choice to make.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.
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