•Cheaper energy from gas provides a powerful economic incentive to develop new technologies to substitute natural gas for gasoline. Cities would convert bus fleets to natural gas. Oil could be replaced in the production of polymers, plastics, and other petrochemicals.
•Nuclear, with its own hazards, would be less of an imperative.
•Furthermore, as technology further improves the efficiency of using natural gas, there will be significant reductions in the environmental burdens of production.
Because of its competitive advantages over oil, wind, nuclear, and solar power, gas may well emerge as the world's dominant fuel for most of the century. We can see the shape of things to come in that soaring natural gas production has already cut our share of oil consumption met by imports from more than 60 percent in 2005 to 47 percent last year.
In short, we have a chance to remake our energy future.
Quite simply, this new supply will make a major contribution toward keeping our lights on and our temperatures down, while addressing three long-standing concerns of the energy business: energy scarcity, energy security, and environmental risks. It is therefore all the more important to deal seriously and convincingly with the so far marginal risks of fracking before it gets bogged down in the kind of wrangling that has plagued the Keystone XL pipeline for feeding Gulf of Mexico refiners with petroleum from Canada's oil sands.
The United States is positioned to be the country with the most to gain from this dramatic new energy source. The tables are turning in our favor.
- See the 10 priciest years in history for gasoline.
- Read: Republicans Grill Obama Administration on Fracking.
- Check out U.S. News's Debate Club.