Watching the horrible events at the Boston Marathon unfold really drove home to me the importance of energy independence. Seeing the smirks on the faces of two people creating evil can stay with one.
Our Commerce Department needs to regularly publish a list of important resources that we are forced to import. This would drive home to all Americans the risks we face in this global, but troubled, world when we rely on other countries for essentials.
Traditionally, topping this list would be oil. However, new technologies may drop this to the bottom (or someday completely off the list!). Deep oil, shale oil and gas are more accessible due to better equipment including horizontal drilling and fracking.
I had the opportunity this year to visit Fort McMurray in Canada and Williston, North Dakota. The former contains the third largest oil reserve in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. This oil that has been bubbling up through surface sands for years can now be scooped up into huge Caterpillar trucks and processed to produce heavy crude.
North Dakota is the second biggest oil producing U.S. state after Texas. Drills can now reach 10,000 feet, turn sideways to follow oil strata, and frack to release oil. This produces light, sweet crude that is easy to refine. Since potable water is never found below 1,000 feet, this horizontal drilling stays far from the water supply.
Developing these resources is not as easy nor as inexpensive as importing oil today from the Middle East.
We need more pipelines like the proposed Keystone to bring these oils to the refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. I, for one, am extremely happy we have the resources in North America to become energy independent.