Can The U.S. Really Become Energy Independent?

The short answer is yes, according to this NPR report that includes interviews with energy experts. The boom in shale fracking for oil and natural gas and the zeal of small energy companies is to credit. But UC Berkeley's Don Kammen has his doubts.

2 minute read

March 7, 2012, 2:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid

John Ydstie presents a surprisingly optimistic forecast from some experts.

"Energy self-sufficiency is now in sight," says energy economist Phil Verleger. He believes that within a decade, the U.S. will no longer need to import crude oil and will be a natural gas exporter. It's not the result of government policy or drilling by big oil...but small energy companies using such controversial techniques as hydraulic fracturing, along with horizontal drilling, unlocking vast oil and natural gas deposits".

In agreement is Amy Myers Jaffe, of Rice University's Baker Institute.

Considering that according to the Energy Information Agency, "the United States imported about 49% of the petroleum... that we consumed during 2010", Verleger's forecast might seem unreasonably optimistic.

Another expert interviewed, while agreeing with Verleger, uses the term "energy security" rather than independence "because most oil imports will come from Canada, not unstable places like the Middle East."

Also interviewed is Dan Kammen, a professor in the energy and resource group at the University of California, Berkeley, who would prefer to see increased use of renewable sources of energy rather than increased mining of domestic fossil fuels.

Not reported is the often quoted factoid that "America owns 3 percent of the world's oil but consumes 25 percent of its global reserves" (Rep. Gerry Connolly, House floor speech, May 3, 2011). In fact, according to Truth-O-Meter of the Tampa Bay Times, it's 1.5% and 22%, respectively.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 in NPR

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