Energy supply issues have been nettlesome at least since the Nixon administration, often producing long gasoline lines, sluggish economic growth, dependence on unstable foreign regimes and even backlash at the ballot box. Most policy solutions — including government subsidies, exotic fuel mandates, even restructuring the Department of Energy — were all oriented around this scarcity paradigm.
That was then. Today, technological innovations like horizontal drilling, better seismic imaging and hydraulic fracturing have done what new laws and regulations never could. We now produce massive amounts of North American energy that will lower prices for consumers, create a domestic manufacturing renaissance and even influence geopolitical alignments.
Policymakers in the 1970s and ‘80s never envisioned “tight oil” or “shale gas.” Colossal energy reserves in places like Bakken in North Dakota, the Niobrara in Colorado, the Eagle-Ford in Texas, the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and the Utica in Ohio were unthinkable 10 years ago. Conventional wisdom insisted we were running out of oil and natural gas.
But energy scarcity was yesterday’s conundrum. Today, we face a new challenge: How to overcome government-imposed roadblocks to building the infrastructure and unleashing the innovation necessary to harness our new energy abundance.