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All Hail Shale
This Is What Energy Security Looks Like

A decade ago, the outlook on America’s energy security was anything but rosy. The U.S. produced less and less of the energy it consumed, until the ratio of production to consumption hit an all-time low in 2005. Since then, however, our energy prospects have bounced back, with domestic production satisfying 84 percent of our energy needs last year, the EIA reports.

Take a look at this remarkable turnaround in the chart below, which follows the ratio of domestic production to total consumption over the past 64 years:


There are two trends at play here. First and foremost, the dual technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling have unlocked a new bounty of oil and natural gas trapped in previously inaccessible shale rock, leading to a veritable hydrocarbon boom. But there’s another important development worth noting, namely the tapering off of our total energy consumption. Much of that can be laid at the feet of energy efficiency gains, which can be expected to continue as the U.S. moves away from a more energy-intensive manufacturing economy to a leaner information economy.

Those two trends—affecting both U.S. supply and demand of energy—will continue to alter our dependence on foreign sources of energy. True energy independence is a myth, but a decreased reliance on far-off suppliers is good for both our economy and our foreign policy.

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  • Andrew Allison

    There are actually three trends at play. Note the increase in the ratio from 1979-1984: 1979/80 saw the price of energy spike due to the Iranian Revolution. and the economy was in recession for most of 1981-1984. Given the similar pattern since 2007, it appears that the increase in the ratio may have more to do with reduced consumption due to economic factors than increased production or energy efficiency.

  • Fat_Man

    Just imagine what would happen if the President was not trying to stop coal production and prevent oil drilling.

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