Energy independence depends in part on policy

John Felmy

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Technological advancements in producing oil and natural gas have positioned North America to achieve energy independence within perhaps a dozen years.

But that prospect still depends on an energy policy based on facts, not assertions or myths, said John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute. “If there’s anything we need right now, it’s facts.”

Speaking at the Energy Forum & Expo in Grand Junction, Felmy covered a wide range of issues related to energy production.

Hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and the ability to extract oil from tar sands and deep water locations all have bolstered prospects of energy independence in North America while increasing capital investments and hiring, Felmy said.

Increased natural gas production also bodes well for the manufacturing of plastics and chemicals, he said.

Realizing energy self-sufficiency depends, though, on federal energy policy, he said.

Hydraulic fracturing, for example, already is well regulated by states even though there’s never been a demonstrated case of water contamination linked to the process, Additional federal regulations aren’t needed, he said.

Energy policy also should allow access to vast energy resources on public lands, not keep those resources off limits, he said.

As for the proposed Keystone pipeline to transport oil from Canada to U.S. refineries, Felmy said if the U.S. doesn’t allow the pipeline, it will be routed elsewhere and the oil will go somewhere else — likely to Asia. Canadian oil imports are doubly beneficial because 90 cents of every dollar spent on then comes back to the U.S. in trade, he added. “It’s a win-win.”