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Economic gusher

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Crude oil production in the United States in 2012 rose more than 1 million barrels a day or 14 percent over the previous year, the largest increase in our history, resulting in the reduction of oil imports to the lowest level since the mid-1990s. Oil production in Canada rose 7 percent year over year, according the Statistical Review of World Energy, an analysis of oil industry trends published for 60 years.

The North American petroleum spigot is filled by oil retrieved using sophisticated hydraulic fracturing technology developed by the innovative American oil extraction industry. North Dakota and Texas sit over vast pools of oil densely packed into shale. The same technology is providing plentiful quantities of natural gas, which is finding its way to the furnaces of American homes and to electric generating stations switching their fuel source from coal to natural gas.

That transformation resulted in a reduction of 200 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions — the source of what many scientists describe as global warming. U.S. emissions fell 3.8 percent to the lowest level since the mid-1990s, according to the World Energy Outlook report of the International Energy Agency. In the rest of the world, carbon dioxide pollution rose 1.4 percent.

America again leads the way in finding innovative solutions to what many have argued are intractable problems. It seems like just yesterday that doomsayers proclaimed the supply of petroleum and natural gas was on the decline worldwide, igniting a rush of government investment in solar, wind power and electric automobiles. The record of the alternative energy investments has been abysmal. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in solar and battery companies that have failed to successfully exploit their promises, with the federal money disappearing into bankruptcy petitions. Washington has invested billions in wind generation, with the result that the industry produces electricity at above-market rates despite the subsidies from taxpayers. Electric cars have not sparked consumer interest, even with generous government help.

The demand for clean energy has resulted in better techniques to extract energy from the earth, more efficient use of energy by automobiles, home heating and industry. Last year, U.S. oil consumption declined. Those North American extraction techniques will create a strong American export as the technology is used in other areas of the world, such as Russia and Argentina, where geologists have found what they believe are vast pools of petroleum.

What has lagged behind this gusher of innovation and oil is the infrastructure to ship oil to markets. The lack of government approval of pipelines, such as the Keystone XL line from Canada to Texas through Dakotas, keeps oil and natural gas away from consumers, who are always looking for less expensive fuel. However, America’s innovators are at work finding ways to use America’s railways to bring oil to market.

Just as significant as the advancement of technology is that the oil and gas industry has created booming economies in North Dakota, Wyoming, Texas and Pennsylvania and significant growth in Ohio and Illinois. American workers are moving to states with these high-paying jobs, enjoying the fruits of innovation to support their families.

It is a shame that upstate New Yorkers are being deprived of the option to stay at home to work extracting gas and oil from the Marcellus shale beneath New York’s Southern Tier while the state dithers on whether to allow hydraulic fracturing.

The U.S. is on course to supply its need for petroleum with North American oil. New Yorkers deserve a chance to help free the nation from its dependency on foreign oil and to improve their standard of living at the same time.

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