Our nation’s energy prospects have taken a dramatic turn for the better. We are now the world’s largest producer of natural gas and soon will become the world’s largest producer of oil. Those of us who remember the Arab oil embargo and our desperate dependence on imported oil do not take this dramatic reversal of fortunes for granted.
Yet, there are many Americans who would have us abandon fracking with the thought that renewables would fill the gap. Although it is possible to imagine a day when we will rely primarily on renewable energy, that day is far away. The technology is getting better, but we have a long way to go before renewable energy alone can be a significant source of baseline energy. Turning our backs on today's technology will not usher in a new era of “clean” energy, as much as some would like to believe. It will only put our country at the mercy of foreign governments and preclude us from softening Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.
This becomes even more evident as we peer into the future and attempt to predict our ever-growing need for energy. Renewable energy technologies should continue to be developed, but a belief that we can or should halt the development of our shale resources is naïve at best.
Crain's Cleveland Business recently published an article about our future energy needs called More people will need more energy — but how much? And where will it come from? The article was written by Bill Bowen, a professor of public administration and urban studies at Cleveland State University. His predictions about our future energy needs based on the U.S. Census Bureau's population projections over the next several decades should make it clear to everyone that the safe development of our oil and gas resources is critical to our collective well-being and that of future generations.