Tag Archives: U.S. energy policy

More good news to share: oil

That doggone good news just keeps piling up. Why, I just don’t know what to do with myself as I look at this stuff.

Did you know, for example, that by the end of 2014 the United States of America likely will be the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas?


All those pump jacks you see bobbing along the vast West Texas landscape suggest to me that hundred-dollar-per-barrel oil is paying some dividends for the U.S. of A.

Bloomberg reports that American oil production surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia earlier this year. We’ll be No. 1 soon, according to the business news outlet.

Let’s add natural gas to the mix. Oil production is up 49 percent since 2008, according to Bloomberg. Adding natural gas to the mix boosts the increase way beyond even that impressive figure.

On the flip side, there’s even more good news. We’re using less fossil fuel because of more fuel-efficient motor vehicles. Hmmm. Interesting, yes? Is that because that big, mean old government has required vehicles to burn fuel more efficiently?

And what about all this doom-and-gloom talk about how the feds were intent on “destroying the oil industry” by making it so difficult to explore for these fuels? Has the destruction occurred? Not by a long shot.

A favorite mantra among politicians of all stripes is the need to rid this nation of its dependence on foreign fossil fuel, particularly the fuel that comes from those crazy places like the Middle East.

Let’s see. I think we’re doing that.

The Bakken Field in North Dakota and Montana appears to contain the largest reserve in world history. Canada continues to be our friend by producing copious quantities of fossil fuel. However, let’s be mindful of yet another cheerful development: We’re importing a smaller amount of our oil — from friend and foe alike — than at any time in our history.

Gosh, I hate be the bearer of good news when we’re frothing over all these foreign crises.

Oh, I’m just kidding. I kind of like trying to add a little fuller context to the gloominess that seems to energize so many Americans.

Share the credit over good energy news

Politics by definition is a competitive sport of sorts, with folks on one side trying to get the advantage over those on the other side.

So it is with the news about U.S. energy production.


Republicans say they deserve credit for their hands-off policies that have allowed energy producers to explore for fossil fuels on private lands. Democrats hail their policies that have promoted more renewable energy resources, decreasing the demand on fossil fuels.

Who gets the credit for some good energy news?

Both sides deserve a share of it. Why not spread the good cheer around?

Oh, I forgot. Politics gets in the way.

My Republican friends here in the Texas Panhandle aren’t willing to give those blasted Democrats any credit for anything. They contend that Democrats have worked to stifle energy production by seeking to ban exploration on public lands and by creating a tax environment that makes it cost prohibitive for energy producers to, well, produce energy.

Some of that criticism is fair. Some of it isn’t.

Democrats, led by the president of the United States, have sought to incentivize exploration and production of alternative energy. Wind, solar and hydro power are replacing fossil fuel-driven energy plants.

Automakers are getting smarter about building more fuel-efficient motor vehicles.

It’s not that we’re no longer drilling for oil and natural gas. The Energy Information Administration reports that the U.S. energy producers developed 7.7 million barrels per day in October, which means that the country produced more oil than it imported for the first time since 1995.

All of this news, taken together, gives all the principals a hand in this relatively good news.

The Obama administration has helped it along with its push toward greater use of alternative energy sources. Republicans have done their part by pursuing greater exploration for domestic fossil fuel.

There. Share the credit.

‘Energy independence’ gets a little closer

Let’s look back about, oh, two years.

Gasoline prices were rocketing skyward. The U.S. government was under fire for failing to do more to encourage domestic oil exploration and production. Republicans across the land were lampooning the Democratic president for his abject failure to draw us closer to the day when we wouldn’t have to depend on foreign sources to run our industries and fuel our vehicles.

Now comes word that the Gross Domestic Product grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent, which is greater than what economists predicted. The cause of that spike in GDP growth? Domestic oil production.


Interesting, don’t you think?

Domestic oil production is at a 17-year high, according to White House economists. Are they being objective? Well, no neutral observer has questioned the numbers.

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence in West Texas to make the point. The Permian Basin boasts the lowest jobless rate in the state. The reason? The huge demand for oil-related jobs.

I’ve been talking to friends and acquaintances with business interests in the Midland-Odessa area and they all say the same thing: You can’t get housing there; hotel rooms are booked up; those high-rise Midland skyscrapers, the ones built in the 1970s that went vacant when the oil industry crashed in the mid-1980s, have filled up again with tenants.

But don’t rely on that kind of chatter. There appears to be plenty of hard evidence of a turnaround.

All of this bodes pretty well for the United States as Americans watch with intense interest in developments in the Middle East. Egypt looked on the verge of exploding once again. Syria remains a serious question mark for the United States. No one can predict with any certainty what will happen in a region of the world from which we still get a lot of our oil.

Meanwhile, the pump jacks are still working hard here at home. North Dakota is becoming the next “Texas” and/or “Alaska.” Reports indicate an oil field discovery there that will dwarf the reserves known to lie under the Saudi sand.

And I haven’t even mentioned all the “alternative energy” sources being developed, such as the Panhandle wind farms.

Why are the critics so quiet these days?

Boone has an energy plan

Boone Pickens is such a promoter.

He is especially enamored of natural gas, the rights to which he owns in abundance all across the United States, and that surely includes the Texas Panhandle, where he still lives part of the time.


He says yet again that the recent spike in gasoline prices is caused by our nation’s habit of importing oil from overseas. He mentions specifically Venezuela and the Middle East. How does the nation bring down the price of gasoline? We need to invest in more natural gas development, the fossil fuel magnate says.

OK, he’s got a point. He trumpets the cleanliness of natural gas. Pickens says it’s plentiful. He’s indicated that natural gas reserves will outlast by a good bit the oil reserves that sit beneath the sand of, say, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

I’m willing to set aside Pickens’s vested interest in natural gas development. He stands to make a bundle — as if the gazillionaire needs more money — if we do more to develop gas reserves.

Pickens has been arguing for many years about the need to convert large-vehicle fleets — comprising long-haul trucks and buses — to natural gas. It does make sense.

People in very high places ought to take this fellow seriously. Boone Pickens does have some baggage. He’s been a controversial figure for many years. He’s made — and lost — many fortunes. But he knows the energy business better than most of us.

Yes, he’s got an enormous stake in natural gas development. That investment does not make his ideas on how to repair our nation’s energy policy any less worthwhile.