Last year, the United States became the world's biggest oil- and gas-producing nation. It seemed to bring the country within reach of a goal proclaimed by presidents since Richard Nixon: energy independence.
Now that it seems like a realistic prospect, experts are warning that energy independence could come with disadvantages.
One of them is a possible threat to the market for renewable sources of energy. Another is that foreign countries rely on their energy exports, a reliance that could lead to instability abroad.
"For the first time in decades, pundits are talking seriously about U.S. energy independence," writes energy expert Michael Levi at CNBC.com. "Yet ... The United States is more entangled in the global energy system than it has ever been — and ever-rising world demand for energy will remain at the root of transformations in American energy for years to come."
The Daily Circuit looks at the dramatic change in America's status as an energy-producing nation and what that change could mean for our future.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ENERGY INDEPENDENCE:
The Dark Side of Energy Independence
Last March, President Obama said that new energy sources and technologies would make America "less dependent on what's going on in the Middle East." The Romney campaign, meanwhile, argued that energy independence would mean that "the nation's security is no longer beholden to unstable but oil-rich regions halfway around the world."
But that is a fantasy. While the latest energy revolution will be a boon to America's economy, it will in no way allow the United States to turn its back on the rest of the world. That's because America's oil and gas bonanza will drive down global energy prices, undercutting the foundations of petrostates everywhere. (Benjamin Alter and Edward Fishman, writing in the New York Times)
American energy independence: the great shake-up
Yet as this once unimaginable prospect becomes a realistic possibility, it's far from clear that it will solve all the problems it was supposed to. As much as boosters hope otherwise, energy independence isn't likely to free America from its foreign policy entanglements. And at worst, say some skeptics who specialize in energy markets, it might create a whole new host of them, subjecting America to the same economic buffeting that plagues most oil exporters, and handing China even more global influence as the world's behemoth consumer. (Thanassis Cambanis, writing in the Boston Globe)
• Congratulations, America. You're (Almost) Energy Independent.
For four decades, whenever the American political debate turned to energy, the discussion was all about shortage and scarcity, a reality that haunted the United States ever since the global oil crises of the 1970s. That conversation is over. And now the unconventional energy revolution--newly accessible supplies of shale gas and oil--is creating a new discourse on energy that is changing politics and policies. All of this represents what Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz calls a "new mentality" about America's energy position, with a new political language to match. (Daniel Yergin, writing in Politico)