In a recent poll, Americans ranked ‘energy dependence’ as their second greatest concern, after the Iraq war. That is hardly surprising. It is now a well-publicized fact that the United States imports 65 percent of the oil it consumes-much of it from unsavory, hostile countries. But the situation is even tougher than most people think. The United States is not only dependent on foreign oil, it is also increasingly dependent on foreign sources of natural gas-a fuel that provides 20 percent of America’s electricity and heats more than half of U.S. homes (including 70 percent of all new homes). Natural gas is popular because it is the world’s cleanest-burning fossil fuel. It produces fewer emissions and pollutants than either coal or oil. Since the early 1970s, worldwide reserves of natural gas have increased steadily, at an annual rate of around 5 percent. The number of countries with known reserves has increased from around 40 in 1960 to more than 85 today. There is virtually no overlap in the United States today between the uses for oil, almost all of which goes to transportation, and uses for natural gas, most of which goes to heating and electricity production. With […]

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