DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The oil boom is back. Local experts say in just a few short years, the United States will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia. But, some of the technological advances that boost production are often controversial in our communities– for example: fracking.
Last year, homeowners in Flower Mound packed community meetings to voice their concerns, and ask questions.
“There were several heated discussions about it,” says Flower Mound mother of four, Nicole Warren. “People ‘for’ it, people ‘against’ it. Moms wanted to know if the water is safe, if the air is safe.”
Since then, Warren says education and time has helped soothe nerves. “I attended a couple of meetings, got the information. I feel a little better about it.”
Warren’s relief is well timed. Experts say hydraulic fracturing—more commonly known as ‘fracking’—is one of the factors credited with dramatic gains in oil, shale gas and bio-energy production in the US.
“This revolution that we’re seeing that’s making this growth in US production possible… started right here in North Texas,” says Bruce Bullock, Director of the Maguire Energy Institute at SMU’s Cox School of Business. “This change in our energy picture is clearly one of the most significant economic and industrial events of the last 20-30 years. It’s huge.”
Just this week, the International Energy Agency predicted that the U.S. is on track to become the top oil producer in the world—and it could happen within five years.
By increasing production at home, Bullock says all of those dollars that are now spent on foreign oil, will fuel the US economy. “We get the benefit of those jobs. Over this period of time between now and about 2020, it’s about two or three million jobs to the U.S. Economy, and 2%-3% in additions to the GDP, gross domestic product.”
Warren says she was shocked to learn that America’s dependence on foreign oil is waning faster than expected—but, echoes the opinions of many when she says it’s a “good thing.”
Still, a word of caution: experts say a number of factors could derail this forward progress in energy production—including increased regulation, inadequate infrastructure, and a manpower shortage.
And as for fracking, Warren says, “We’re all involved. We have to have gas, we have to keep going… and if we can do it in the safest way possible, that would be great for all concerned.”
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