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U.S. Oil Independence

The U.S. will rid itself of the long-standing dependence on Saudi Arabian oil within the next decade by increasing domestic oil and gas production, but there is the inherent risk, and rising likelihood, of worsening global warming.

In a report released on Monday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the United States will benefit from “unconventional” sources of oil and gas, including shale gas and oil, derived from blasting rocks apart to release the fossil fuels trapped within, i.e. fracking.

Hydraulic fracturing has been linked to increases in seismic activity, but it has been difficult for geologists and seismologists to pinpoint whether fracking is the direct cause for earthquakes, or if it is the indirect consequences of fracking which lead to the increase in seismic activity, such as the wastewater contributing to geologic faults to slip.

These sources could fuel the United States’ energy independence and make the country the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017.

However, if pursued at the planned rate, they would also lead to large increases in greenhouse gas emissions, curbing hopes of decreasing climate change. If this happens, not only will the United States be the most responsible for dangerous emissions, but it will likely result in more than 90% of oil and gas from the Middle East being sold to Asia, chiefly to rapidly developing countries such as China within the same timeframe.

Energy independence is a crucially important goal for the United States for a variety of reasons, but mainly national security and fiscal reasons.

There must be responsible energy independence though, and despite the most logical solution incorporating an “all-of-the-above” strategy, which the Obama administration has supported, the emphasis cannot be placed on fossil fuels. If it is, then there is no feasible way in which the United States can be part of an effort to cut down on carbon emissions and combat climate change.

Further, if both the United States and China are going to be utilizing fossil fuels to power the countries, the likelihood of combating climate change on a global change are even smaller.

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