The New York Times, National Journal, and other outlets recently reported on the prospect that the US’ newfound wealth of natural gas could have serious geopolitical implications, specifically in alleviating the reliance of European countries such as Germany, Turkey, and notably Ukraine on Russia for their gas imports. In turning the resource into a political weapon against Russia, the US could potentially establish itself as a net energy exporter while shrinking its debt.
This is an interesting departure from the often-invoked controversy regarding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process, which could heavily pollute groundwater sources, takes a backseat to issues like national energy security and international political influence, certainly important trade-offs for many Americans. The Washington Post lets a little air out of the bubble, however, in pointing out various obstacles including transportation, price fluctuation, and perhaps most importantly, time, needed to build infrastructure.
I think in rallying Americans around the idea that they can kill several birds with one stone is clever to shift the focus away from the environmentally hazardous implications of gas extraction, but it may come at the cost of investment in renewable energy. It begs the question, if we keep exploiting non-renewable resources for social and economic reasons, to what extent will the environment suffer? There is no argument that we can live off of fossil fuels for several generations to come, but the costs to us and to generations even further in the future will continue to mount. There will continue be an easy way out, but the difficult road to a cleaner energy future is inevitable.