Energy independence has been a goal of the United States ever
since the Nixon Administration and if recent projections are to be
believed, that goal may be on the horizon.
The Wall Street Journal
reports that the U.S. could completely wean itself off fuel from
the Middle East by 2035. In addition, reliance on Middle Eastern
could be cut in half by as soon as 2020.
The primary reason behind this decline is increased production of
in the Western Hemisphere, which has been made possible by the
technological advances, such as hydraulic fracturing, better known
Fracking involves millions of gallons of water laced with sand and
chemicals pumped into shale rock thousands of feet below ground.
This mixture literally cracks the the rock, releasing shale gas,
which is then captured. This process has allowed the U.S. to become
the world's leading producer of
, even though Russia has reserves of the hydrocarbon six times the
size of America's.
In addition to technological advances, declining demand of oil is
expected to lessen America's dependence on Middle Eastern oil. This
will reportedly be accomplished through more efficient car engines
and increased use of renewable energies, such as solar and wind
power, reports the Journal.
"Whereas at one point there were real and serious concerns about
the ability to maintain sustainable access of supplies to the
United States if there were disruptions in the Middle East, that
has changed," Carlos Pascual, the leading energy official with the
State Department, told the news provider.
Specifically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration
anticipates that by the end of the decade half of America's need
for crude oil will be filled by domestic sources. Further, the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries says that by 2035
shipments of oil from the Middle East to North America "could
almost be nonexistent."
One thing that could get in the way of these predictions is public
sentiment turning against the fracking industry. There is already a
large amount of opposition to the practice - particularly in the
Northeast - due to fears that the natural gas extraction process
could contaminate groundwater and cause earthquakes.
While it has yet to be proven that this former fear could come to
pass, a recent report from the National Research Council did link
fracking to two earthquakes. However, these seismic incidents,
which occurred in Oklahoma and England, were both very minor.