The best hope heading into 2014 may be our country's move toward energy independence. The only obstacle may be ourselves.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration's 2014 Energy Outlook anticipates a surge in energy production, thanks to hydraulic fracturing, that will continue through 2040. Because so much of the yield will be clean-burning natural gas, carbon emissions levels should remain below those of 2005 for decades into the future.
"Advanced technologies for crude oil and natural gas production are continuing to increase domestic supply and reshape the U.S. energy economy as well as expand the potential for U.S. natural gas exports," said Adam Sieminski, EIA Administrator.
The study predicts a whopping 56 percent rise in natural gas production before 2040. Researchers expect crude production will rise by 2020 to match levels seen in 1970.
This, of course, is extraordinary news. It means fewer entanglements with hostile foreign oil-rich dictatorships that cost the lives and limbs of young Americans who could otherwise provide for families and move our economy forward. It means lower overhead for all sorts of constructive endeavors in the United States that will create good jobs. It means households and businesses will spend less on energy and more on goods and services that improve the standard of living.
It means cleaner air, as natural gas may provide more than one third of the country's electric power between now and 2040.
All that stands between this golden age of natural gas and domestic crude is our culture's tendency to consume gobs of power while reacting with revulsion to the sights and sounds of energy production. We don't like foreign dependence and the wars they sometimes cause. We don't like high and unstable energy prices. Yet, we think energy production should occur in some faraway desert we only see on TV. We are unrealistic and spoiled.
Right here in oil-and-gas rich Colorado, four communities voted last month to ban or severely restrict oil and gas production. Because such bans violate the Colorado Constitution, which protects private property rights, a movement has begun to amend the Constitution in such manner as to allow widespread bans of oil and gas production. State Senate President Morgan Carroll, who will replace recalled Senate President John Morse when the legislature convenes in January, told The Gazette's editorial board she will support a referendum to make Colorado more hostile for oil and gas production.
For anti-energy activists, this is an easy fight. They have on their side the inclination of Americans to say "not in my backyard." They have in their arsenals the easy misuse of faulty information to arouse fear of progress. They have the advantage of our culture's strange loathing of the companies that provide goods, services and commodities we want, need and happily pay for.
"Colorado was the continuation of trends we're seeing across the country for some time," wrote Richard Levick, for Forbes, two days after Coloradans imposed the four new anti-oil-and-gas measures.
It's not just oil and gas the anti-energy activists attack. Try to establish windmills or solar farms and they protest with concerns about aesthetics, "shadow flickers" and the whirring sound caused by turbine blades. We saw anti-wind activism Dec. 19, when El Paso County commissioners approved 147 wind turbines on private property southeast of Calhan after a heated 10-hour meeting.
Wealth isn't a product of government. It results from constructive endeavors, all of which require energy from the earth, wind or sun. We have the chance to greatly improve our standard of living, if only we accept new opportunities to better energize our lives.