The oil and gas revolutions have become the cause of an emotional debate in the United States, and the debate grows more polarized by the day. Depending on which side of the media you follow, there are pictures of oil-slicked birds, communities in economic despair and mothers fighting for their children’s futures.
Domestic production, not just of oil but of natural gas as well, has opened the door to U.S. energy self-sufficiency. Prolific shales could provide energy to Americans for the next 100 years. While that may not seem so long, the time will be essential for developing other energy sources through new and advancing technologies in an effort to reduce our dependency on natural resources.
We don’t want hydraulic fracturing, but we want to be able to keep driving our cars. It’s a Catch-22. The reality is that Americans consume something developed from natural resources from the moment they wake up. There are thousands of products outside of gasoline for the car that have been created from petroleum, including water pipes and clothing. The entire industry functions as a product of our needs and desires.
Unfortunately there is a disconnect between the public and the entire energy industry. Companies make decisions and operate in a wholesale marketplace — buying and selling among upstream, midstream and downstream markets that are affected by worldwide supply and demand, politics and even weather. Outside of production, these companies are working to create new technologies that will enhance current production. Consumers however, have made it very clear that jobs and economic importance should not trump environmental standards.
While wind, solar and hydro can provide electricity, they cannot be a substitute for products produced from petroleum. So while nobody wants to be dependent, companies and individuals alike need to support each other while we find new sources of energy and an alternative for petroleum.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.