Energy. Environment. Economy.

Expert: without fracking boom, U.S. would face oil crisis

Daniel Yergin speaking at the U.S. Energy Information Conference in Washington D.C. Monday. His book, "The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power" won the Pulitzer Prize and is often cited as one of the definitive histories of the oil industry.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Daniel Yergin speaking in Washington D.C. Monday. His book, "The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power" won the Pulitzer Prize and is often cited as one of the definitive histories of the oil industry.

Energy expert and oil historian Daniel Yergin says without the recent domestic boom in oil production, the United States would be in trouble.

“I’m convinced–were it not for what’s happened these last few years– we’d be looking at an oil crisis,” he said. “We’d have panic in the public. We’d have angry motorists. We’d have inflamed congressional hearings and we’d have the U.S. economy falling back into a recession.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Vice Chairman of global consulting firm IHS spoke Monday at the annual conference of the U.S. Energy Information Administration– the statistics arm of the federal Department of Energy.

“We still call them unconventional, but they’re becoming pretty conventional,” Yergin said of recent increases in domestic oil and gas production. “U.S. natural gas production’s up 34 percent since 2005. Recoverable reserves have doubled. Crude oil production is up 66 percent since 2008. We’re seeing a re-balancing of world oil.”

Given this changing energy landscape, Yergin says the United States should lift its ban on crude oil exports– rules imposed after the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s.

“There would be foreign policy positives,” he said. “It would be a message to the world about a commitment to markets to energy security. For so many decades, the U.S. has preached to other countries, ‘Free flow of resources.’”

As for the carbon footprint of fossil fuels, Yergin says their use will be determined by global demand, and he’s talking instead about a supply issue.

“This does not affect demand in any significant way,” he said. “Demand is going to be shaped by other factors. The question really is who produces the oil and whether the financial and security benefits flow to the United States or to other countries”

IHS recently issued a special report– largely funded by the oil and gas industry– touting the benefits of lifting the crude oil export ban.


  • kenneth weir

    Mr. Yergin is nothing more than a shill for the industry. Why is what he says relevant to any discussion on this issue?. He is a true hack in every sense of the word. His ideas are bought, rehearsed and paid for by the extraction industry. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

    • Roger Wiggin

      Ah, Kenneth. Playing that tired “shill for industry” card again, eh?

      • kenneth weir

        yes, I suppose something’s just never get old. History and “experts” just seem to always repeat themselves.

  • Celia Janosik

    I am speaking for all those negatively affected women, fetuses, children and men who are and will continue to endure bad health and decrease of wealth due to the fossil fuel extraction industry.
    I will also speak on behalf of our watersheds, air, wildlife and fauna that is mutilated by this industry.
    We knew many years ago about the shortage of reliable energy but our government, politicians and industrialists promoted and researched for more extraction of fossil fuels instead of putting our resources to renewables. I remember the 70′s and tried to do my share buying a Dodge Colt, recycling and using organic methods in my garden. We have not progressed towards sustainable living in the decades since so we now will pay with bad health, water, air and many more special needs children etc. Living near heavy industrial activity is hell, ask someone who does. Living within 1/2 mile is a sure way to shorten ones life. Ask drillers where they live with their families.
    Man thinks itself so clever and that we can solve all the problems we create. The waste created by the fossil fuel and nuclear industries is becoming harder by the day to dispose of. One only has to look at the numerous earthquakes and Fukushima for verification.
    Daniel Yergin is looking at the money and also public opinion, as the latter loves money & convenience also. When will life mean more than money? Seems to me we are in the biggest crap shoot of all time.

    • Stephen Harris

      I am sorry, but this rant appears to be from someone who is essentially un-hinged from reality…and typical of the diatribes you hear from the professional protesters. It seems every time two or more folks get together over a cause they know really nothing about, they are always saying their intent is to protect us form fellow humans and to save the planet. I do thank this lady by posting a perfect example of what modern civilization has to deal with and why it is sometimes so difficult to try to insert even common sense into the public discourse. Does this lady, who resorts to attacking “drillers” personally think that oilmen and women and other employees of the petroleum industry would tolerate unsafe living conditions for their families? Such arrogance and inane worthless ignorance is truly offensive on many levels.

  • rickw

    i will answer for some of the drillers(no one can speak for all) , in the oil and gas patch with tank batteries and wells.

  • Stephen Harris

    A very poignant and appropriate observation by one of the leading writers of our times. While Mr. Yergin has written many books and studies of various industries, his book, “The Prize” is considered required reading for anyone that studies history, and how civilization got to where it is today. As for the uber left anti-oil, anti-business and generally anti-American folks and professional protesters I might remind those Luddites that environmental fatalities since the dawn of our ability to “crack” the code with “fossil” fuels have decreased by 98% as outlined in a recent USC paper. I would suggest those that think carbon is bad, the element that separates life forms from rocks, please study your topic before mouthing off and sounding like the idiots that are a product of 40 years of our schools being hijacked by ultra-leftists anti-business and anti-capitalist teachers (most divorced from reality anyway). Very good observation Mr. Yergin and I for one thank you for your objective research you and your associates continue to put out for those of us that at least can still read intelligently and think for themselves.

    • kenneth weir

      Stephen, you must have always been the big man on campus. A true American hero. In the words of the immortal seargent Schultz” you know nothing”

  • Chris

    Its not that I think exporting things are wrong or anything I mean its great to export, but what on earth is the point of exporting something we don’t even have enough of ourselves, just so we can turn around and have to import it from somewhere else to satisfy our own need. It’s like selling my groceries to my neighbor so I can in return go buy the groceries I need from my other neighbor. WTF Why not just use the damn groceries I have in the first place and save the extra cost of shipping things back and forth around the world just to say we do… NOw if we produced 28 million barrels of oil and only used 20 then great export the other 8 for sure…

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »