During President Barack Obama’s impromptu press conference on Tuesday, he mentioned the GOP attempt to attach language promoting more oil drilling, among other things, to the government funding bill, but ironically the shutdown caused by the very lawmakers clamoring for more oil was precluding permit approvals.
In addition, Obama noted the US has been producing more oil and gas than at any other time in its history, which is considered rather unusual bragging rights for a president determined to tackle climate change.
However, thanks to the ever-increasing and controversial use of fracking (a fusion of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) the United States will wrap up 2013 in the top position over Russia and Saudi Arabia for production of petroleum and natural gas, according to the Energy Information Administration on Friday.
US production is estimated to hit 25 million barrels a day.
Jim Probasco notes in MSN Money, “This, of course, doesn’t mean that the rate of production will remain constant. Production rates are a product of available technology and the cost of developing that technology. Profitability is also a major factor. Public sentiment is another. Fracking is controversial.”
So, why have gas prices remained so high?
According to Ken Hersh, chief executive of the NGP Energy Capital Management LLC, "It is not a supply question anymore. It is about demand and the cost of production. Those are the two drivers."
Nonetheless, Wall Street Journal reports that a Pew poll indicates fracking is opposed publicly by almost 50 percent of Americans. Environmentalists indicate a desire to see more investment in renewables, like wind, solar and biofuels.
The president has also committed to renewable energy sources, but he faces a block of stubborn opposition from ultra-conservative Republicans on everything he wants to accomplish.
Environment America is calling for a complete ban on fracking, because the entire process destroys the land, causes pollution and uses huge amounts of water.
Environment America describes the dilemma in these terms:
“As fracking expands rapidly across the country, there are a growing number of documented cases of drinking water contamination and illness among nearby residents. Yet it has often been difficult for the public to grasp the scale and scope of these and other fracking threats. Fracking is already underway in 17 states, with more than 80,000 wells drilled or permitted since 2005. Moreover, the oil and gas industry is aggressively seeking to expand fracking to new states—from New York to California to North Carolina—and to areas that provide drinking water to millions of Americans.”
Experts predict the US achievement as top producer may not last long and question whether Americans will be the main benefactors of the oil boom.
Just as Canadian oil transported by the Keystone XL pipeline, if it were approved by the president, would all be exported.