In 2010, US families spent an average $3,454 on gasoline & oil, fuel oil, and natural gas, and $1,705 more for electric utilities, which rely on coal, oil and natural gas for the bulk of their power generation. Excepting hybrids or battery-only automobile models, our transportation system does not use coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, or solar energy. When we buy a gallon at the pump, 49% of it comes from imports that drain $200 billion/year from the US economy. We pay half of that to unstable or repressive regimes, exposing the US to supply disruptions – no wonder the American consumers vigorously support more domestic exploration and production.
Technical innovations plus opening restricted Federal areas can halt the need to import petroleum and create 1 million new jobs in the US by 2020, or 1.4 million by 2035. Staunching imports from unstable suppliers would allow the US to retain $100 billion each year in the US economy, a stimulus taxpayers won’t need to fund.
Extraction of crude oil from tar sands is now both effective and efficient enough that it will allow the XL pipeline from Alberta to carry up to 0.83 million barrels/day (mbpd) to refiners in Texas. Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is being used to release gas and crude oil trapped in deep rock. Fracking can be used on new wells and on wells once considered “depleted,” generating new supply of 1.4 mbpd of crude and equivalents. Exploration and production from Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico waters and from Alaskan areas could bring the total to 4 mbpd by 2020 and 10 mbpd by 2035.
The XL pipeline and fracking can operate under reasonable regulations that have been in place over the last 2 decades. Likewise, reasonable regulations for operating shallow and deep water exploration have been around for a few decades. If enforced, they can secure safety. The Alaskan ANWR area remains an emotional issue with the public, but it is a small piece of the total potential.
Alan Daley is a retired businessman living in Florida. He follows public policy from the consumer’s perspective