Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Economic future depends on access to affordable energy

Professor Mark Perry, who blogs at Carpe Diem, recently has written some great pieces about energy.   America’s economic future, he suggests, is fundamentally tied to our ability to secure affordable energy.  And we have lots of it, but most folks probably don’t know that.  And here’s one reason why.

When I was attending Syracuse, I took a class on energy and the environment.  My reading list included “The End of Oil” by Paul Roberts and “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman.  I remember the discussion about how America faced an energy crisis – one brought about by the dwindling supplies of natural resources.  Fossil fuels, I was told, would soon run out and we’d be left in a lurch.  These books, filled with neat charts, half truths, and quotes from the famous geophysicist M. King Hubbert about peak oil, were meant to convince us that we should abandon fossil fuels for so-called green energy.  Failure to do so meant certain doom, and cost was irrelevant.  Other views were rarely tolerated.  Too bad.

Mark Perry has shown on several occasions that advances in drilling technology have caused a revolution within America’s energy industry.  It’s now estimated that America sits atop a 100-year supply of natural gas.  We could soon become a natural gas exporter.  This was unheard of just ten years ago.  Oil, once thought too difficult to extract, is also becoming recoverable thanks to these same technologies.  North Dakota could soon become the largest producer of oil outside of Alaska.  Not only are consumers directly benefiting by enjoying lower energy prices, but this revolution is doing something Washington has never been able to do: create jobs.  In parts of North Dakota, the unemployment rate is below 2%.  And other parts of the country are catching on – places like Ohio and Pennsylvania are beginning to develop their shale gas and oil.

It’s become clear to me that the only impediment to an energy revolution that promises to lower energy prices, increase domestic supplies, and create good jobs is power-hungry politicians and an overbearing government.

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