Editorial | The energy boom

Editorial | The energy boom

The U.S. economy continues to do well, the best evidence being the 4.1 percent annual Gross Domestic Product growth rate in the most recent economic quarter. It would be great to keep that kind of strong economic growth going.

After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.

But if the overall U.S. economy is doing well, what's there to say about the energy sector.

It's going gangbusters, with oil production at record levels and oil exports reaching a new high — 3 million barrels a day, according to government data.

That's a lot of oil, but readers may not realize just how much it is.

U.S. exports are more than most of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries produce reach day. The U.S. only trails two OPEC countries — Saudi Arabia and Iraq — in exports.

It doesn't seem all that long ago that a permanent energy crisis dogged this nation's heels, putting us at a financial and national security disadvantage with respect to the Middle East.

Thanks to more sophisticated drilling techniques, including fracking, and major discoveries in states like Texas and North Dakota, those days are long gone.

It's just too bad that energy exploration, including fracking, hasn't taken off in southern Illinois, as some suggested it might. Thanks to oil price fluctuations and legislative impediments complicating drilling, nothing much has happened in an area of the state that desperately needs an economic boost.

Oil exports may be a big story on the economic scene, but they're not the whole story. Oil and oil-related products, like diesel and gasoline, combine for exports totaling 8.5 million barrels a day. That's an all-time high, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Indeed, the numbers just keep getting larger on the oil front.

For example, U.S. oil production is running at a record pace of 10.9 million barrels a day. That level of production is why U.S. refineries are taking in record quantities of oil.

Oil is a funny business, the future of which remains unclear.

For example, even as the U.S. exports millions of barrels of its oil to other countries, it imports about 3.5 millions barrels a day from Canada.

Maintaining a proper U.S. energy supply is and will continue to be a serious issue, mostly because worldwide demand continues to grow even in the face of dramatic conservation measures in countries like the U.S. As countries across the globe pursue the economic growth that will mean a better life for their citizens, so, too, will their appetite for the energy that drives their economies and powers their creature comforts. That means that prices will likely remain high, although not as high as they have been, and continue to fluctuate in the face of demand issues. Nonetheless, it's a whole different ballgame on the energy front, and that's all to the good for the U.S.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Topics (1):Environment