10 October 2010
Obama’s Domestication of Energy
The United States of America is the world’s biggest consumer and producer of energy. It is also the world’s biggest net importer of natural resources (Shaffer, “The United States” 135). The domestication of energy is the production and consumption of energy from resources found in the home country. Domestic energy can occur from petroleum reserves on public and private lands, from using hydraulic fracturing of shale to make gas, and from the use of renewable resources. It is needed because of how it gives economic stability and securable energy for the citizens of the home country. The domestication of energy and how to produce it is an emerging topic that concerns with the environment and politics that President Barack Obama has many stances on. The domestication of energy production has many effects of the environment. One of these effects is the toll that will happen when America’s petroleum reserves are depleted. “In 1973, the United States imported 35 percent of the oil it consumed; in 2007 it imported close to 60 percent,” (Shaffer, “The United States” 137). The United States also has the world’s largest oil refining capacity. Although the capacity is slowly growing, there have been no new oil refineries in over thirty-five years. This infrastructure has proved its vulnerability in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hindered refineries throughout the Gulf Coast region (Shaffer, “The United States” 137). According to a U.S. Geographical Survey done in 2000, The United States has roughly 362 billion barrels of oil and about 1908 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (Aguilera 145). However, as history indicates, it is not appropriate to assume no new resources will be discovered from areas not assessed, reserve growth, and unconventional resources such as heavy oil, oil sands, and oil shale. “Over time, of course, depletion may force the world to reduce its reliance on conventional petroleum. This, however, does not imply a difficult transition period with sharply higher prices and lower consumption of energy since unconventional sources of petroleum are available in substantial volumes at costs below current market prices,” (Aguilera 158). The depletion of the reserves in the world and the U.S. would cause and exponential increase in prices and taxes, as well as it would also cause negative environmental effects. When the resources are depleted, not only will there be much pollution from the amount of fossil fuels used, but there will also be strain placed on the environment from the exploration of new resources. However, when the said fossil fuels are depleted, the United States of America will hopefully have new technology that will minimize the damage done to the environment (Aguilera 158). The depletion of petroleum reserves is just one way the domestication of energy affects the environment. Fracking is another example of how the domestication of energy affects the environment. Fracking is the process of extracting natural gas from shale. This process is done by using water and toxic chemicals to drill down into the shale deep into the surface of the earth. (Howarth, Ingraffea, and Engelder 271-1). President Obama is in favor of fracking because of its economic benefit as well as his claim of clean energy (“Securing American Energy”). Fracking is environmentally conscious because of its efficiency. Getting natural gas from shale lasts longer and cleaner than does coal and oil. However, the downside to fracking is that it has a potential to harm humans around the drilling sites. Most of the time, the shale is under ground water that is used in wells for drinking water. Therefore, there is a risk for the toxic chemicals used in the drill, as well as the natural gas itself to leak into the water. This usually will cause many harmful effects on the humans (Howarth, Ingraffea, and Engelder 272-3). It is known that in some areas where fracking is...