America's historic gusher

  @FortuneMagazine September 5, 2013: 10:53 AM ET
EDD16 energy boom

Have you really considered what a massive game changer America's newly exploitable 100-year supply of oil and gas is? We're only beginning to feel the implications -- I'll get to some early effects in a minute -- but imagine what the world will look like in 50 years when we're in the sweet spot of the boom.

First, two major challenges: We need to be able to extract this abundance safely. And second, we must also transition to sustainable energy sources and reduce greenhouse emissions. I believe we can do both. We're already fracking every day in this country, and though it's not risk-free, clearly it can be done. As for the second problem -- that these new sources of oil and gas might sideline efforts to develop renewables -- that's a much tougher nut. I still feel sanguine, though, because nat gas (which is much of the resource) is cleaner than other fossil fuels (how much is debatable), and through technology is getting cleaner. And because awareness of global warming is growing -- rising sea levels in New York and Florida will do that -- meaning this high-profile issue is unlikely to abate.

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