Horizontal drilling and fracking have made oil shale and tar sands rich sources of oil and natural gas, so much so that the United States may prove to possess the largest store of fossil fuel reserves in the world — in theory, soon with enough gas, oil and coal never to need any imported Middle Eastern energy again.
“Peak oil” is suddenly an anachronism. Widespread American use of cheap natural gas will do more to clean the planet than thousands of Solyndras. If the U.S. utilizes its resources, then its present pathologies — massive budget and trade deficits, mounting debt, strategic vulnerability — will start to subside.
These new breakthroughs in petroleum engineering are largely American phenomena, reminding us that there is still something exceptional in the American experience that periodically offers the world cutting-edge technologies and protocols — such as those pioneered by Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks and Walmart.