We’re more than a decade into the U.S. shale revolution and abundant gas supplies are still paying dividends for American consumers and the economy. Since 2008, U.S. shale gas production, made possible by advancements in hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking) technology, has skyrocketed by more than 60%. The U.S. is now the world’s leader in gas production by a wide margin, with second place Russia producing 25% less natural gas than we do.
The good news for consumers, as Energy Fairness has explained before, is that the shale revolution shows no signs of letting up anytime soon.
Gas prices have reached a 20-year low and more energy supplies has meant low prices not just at the gas pump, but at the power meter. One analysis found that fracking saved the average American family more than $1,000 in 2016.
An often underreported story is the positive impact of the shale boom on renewable power sources. The fact is that more natural gas on the market has helped to facilitate the integration of intermittent renewable energy into our power grid. The ability of natural gas to ramp up and down quickly makes it an ideal backup for wind and solar power, paving the way for more utility scale renewable power.
There are broader economic implications to the shale boom, too. Consider that U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG) exports are also growing rapidly. Over the past 3 years the U.S. has become the world’s third largest LNG supplier, currently supplying 12-14% of the world’s LNG, an amazing achievement for such a short time frame. The International Energy Agency expects the U.S. to become the world largest exporter of LNG within just 5 years. This will be vital to the ability of developing nations to gain access to reliable power. And for our allies in Europe, it means less dependence on Russia for natural gas, helping keep a major international political rival in check.
More work is left to do, of course. Regulation must constantly be fine-tuned to acknowledge new realities in the exploration and extraction process, more pipelines must be permitted and built to bring gas supplies to market, and officials should consider the vast potential of offshore oil and gas supplies that could invigorate economies and fuel for the American economy for decades to come.
Securing America’s energy sources and using them to our advantage is key to helping customers and maintaining our competitive advantage. The shale revolution is already helping to make that happen. If we’re smart, and if we harness the power of American energy instead of restrain it, abundant U.S. energy supplies can keep creating benefits here at home and around the world.