The American energy revolution

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.

stephen moore
scottsdale, arizona

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.

  • pjh789

    Wind and solar energy also have their downsides. We would be substituting the environmental negatives of one for another. When balancing the scales to see which of the options have the least environmental impact, I would vote for natural gas. Environmentalists never weigh the impact of manufacturing, servicing, replacement, servicing dangers, or blight on the landscape when talking about wind and solar. They never look at problems in energy storage or the economics. At least the surface drill pad is reclaimed with a gas well and several years later you don’t even know it is there. Don’t argue the point of hydraulic fracturing as a source of aquifer polluting because that has been investigated and disproven. Don’t argue about surface pollution, because a driller cannot drop a spot of diesel fuel on the ground during refueling without getting fined by the DEP. There has never been so much oversight in drilling as there is today.

  • Archibald_Bomwitz

    The shale oil and gas boom means that ALL research into alternative fuel technologies will stop! American companies are ot going to “throw away money” on something that is not needed as there is an abundance of oil and gas! Instead American companies will pay huge dividends to their shareholders and REALLY fat bonuses to their managers! And the shareholders will use these dividends to invest in securitized loans given to people, who are broke, to buy something they can’t afford!

  • David Budka

    Somebody is getting the big picture. Our dependency on fossil fuels is not going to just disappear as some environmental advocates would like to think. That means the United States has to maintain and occasional rebuild the existing infrastructure. It also means we have to find domestic sources of fossil fuels to protect our economy and national security. Let’s face reality, armies, navies, and air forces run on fossil fuels, even if they do have a few nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers. Furthermore, without a satisfactory supply and delivery infrastructure, it takes very little in terms of disasters to overwhelm them. Yes, we need to continue developing solar, wind, and biofuel technologies, but to leave fossil fuels out of our energy portfolio is foolish. Lastly, there is a lot we as a society can do to reduce greenhouse emissions, but we don’t have to trash the economy in the effort.