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Editorial: Energy Independence Within Our Reach

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The future for U.S. energy independence looks brighter than ever.

A Paris-based energy watchdog predicts the U.S. will become the world’s top producer of oil by 2020, a net exporter of oil around 2030 and nearly self-sufficient in energy by 2035.

The predictions by the International Energy Agency could mean the U.S. has a chance to change the geopolitical landscape — and get out from under the thumbs of foreign oil exporters — like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela — that traditionally have been the fossil fuel supermarkets for U.S. energy consumers.

That is, if we don’t blow it with overregulation and unnecessary governmental roadblocks. Yes, the biggest threat to American energy independence and a better world is us.

Currently, the U.S. imports about 42 percent of its crude oil and 20 percent of its overall energy needs. But newer technologies — such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to extract deposits buried in rock formations — has increased oil, shale gas and bioenergy production fueling an “energy renaissance” in the United States.

Drilling is booming in North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma and other locations. Annual production in southeastern New Mexico’s oil patch is up 21 percent from 2005 to 2011. Oil deposits buried in the hard-rock Mancos Shale bed in northwestern New Mexico are potential targets for hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven says.

Obviously there must be regulation, but eliminating those more burdensome than helpful will help move the country toward true energy independence. And we should resist regulation by subterfuge that is designed to simply make energy more expensive and less available in the attempt to promote renewables. At the same time, the U.S. must not forgo developing alternative forms of energy that have a lower carbon footprint and are renewable where fossil fuels are not.

This is a dream time for the U.S. oil and gas industry, and that dream must be pursued, albeit responsibly and with wise stewardship of the resources uppermost.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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