Speaker: New energy sources transform U.S.

The unconventional energy revolution has sharply lessened the United States’ dependence on imported oil, but the advance could be negated by political backtracking, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official said.

The United States in 2005 imported two-thirds of the crude oil it used, but as a result of unconventional oil advances, it now imports half of the nation’s needs, said Christopher Guith, vice president for policy of the chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

Guith spoke Wednesday at the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce energy briefing.

Unconventional energy also has fattened family checkbooks, both by increasing employment and in providing less expensive energy, Guith said.

The effect of hydraulic fracturing has been “beyond transformative,” Guith said.

A study by IHS, a global information company, showed that reduced electricity costs attributable to natural gas have saved American families on average $1,200 a year, Guith said.

And while total employment fell 2.6 percent during the Great Recession, employment in the oil and gas industry leaped by 39 percent, Guith said. The United States has increased by 50 percent the amount of oil it produced in 2005.

Still, “We can step in and screw this up,” Guith said, noting that there have been at least 375 local bans proposed on hydraulic fracturing, not including the four municipal bans voters considered last week in Front Range Colorado cities.

Three of those four bans were approved by voters, prompting Guith to note the need for the business community to prepare for the possibility of more extensive bans, including the possibility of a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing on the November 2014 ballot.

Such bans could hinder what Guith said was $130 billion in domestic investment dependent on increasing availability of natural gas for use as fuel and as a feedstock for plastics and other products, Guith said.


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