In July 2014, the United States passed Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s biggest oil producer for the first time since 1970. This dramatic turn of events marked the end of an era in U.S. energy policy—an era that began in the 1970s with two oil embargoes, soaring gas prices, and growing dependence on imported oil, especially from the Middle East.
For better or worse—and some environmentalists think it’s definitely for worse—America unexpectedly finds itself richly endowed with fossil fuels again. The question now is how can we take advantage of this new energy abundance without accelerating global warming?
The answer, in PPI’s view, lies in a balanced national energy strategy that promotes both economic growth and a healthy environment. Such a strategy would capitalize on the domestic shale oil and gas boom while also enabling America to meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are two ways to square that circle. One is to boost public investment in energy-related research and development. The other is to price carbon accurately, which will spur more investment in efficiency, clean tech innovation, and renewable and nuclear energy.
This approach steers a pragmatic course between “drill baby drill” conservatives, who ignore or deny the overwhelming scientific evidence for climate change, and extreme environmentalists who imagine that Americans will go along with their demands to keep the nation’s shale bounty “in the ground.”