With each year the efficiency of fracking has improved and estimates of

With each year the efficiency of fracking has

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production grew from 5 percent to 45 percent. With each year, the efficiency of fracking has improved, and estimates of recoverable reserves of shale gas have nearly doubled. Driven by the production of tight oil made possible by fracking, U.S. crude oil production has also soared in the last five years, following four decades of decline. In 2013, the United States overtook Russia as the world's leading producer of oil and gas. Within two years it is likely to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest crude oil producer. U.S. imports of oil and gas have fallen steeply in the last five years, reducing the trade deficit. The United States will soon be a net exporter of energy. The economic boost from the so-called "North American energy revolution" has already been profound. Natural gas prices in the United States have plummeted, both in absolute terms and relative to other markets around the world. Consequently, the United States is now uniquely advantaged in industries, such as petrochemical production, that require massive amounts of energy. Billions of dollars of investment capital have flowed into the United States, thereby helping to revitalize the manufacturing sector. Energy analyst Daniel Yergin has linked the creation of 2 million jobs to the development of shale energy, and other reports suggest that the renewal of the energy industry (and associated manufacturing and support services) is pumping hundreds of billions of additional dollars into the U.S. economy every year. The energy boom has also significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, even as the emissions from other, more traditionally "green" states, like Germany, have increased. A large part of this shift has been driven by the rapid transition from coal to less expensive and less emissions-intensive gas-powered electricity. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2012 alone, a year in which U.S. GDP grew nearly 3 percent, the country's energy-related carbon emissions fell almost 4 percent, to their lowest level since 1994 and 12 percent below their 2007 peak. Admittedly, some enthusiasts have overhyped the strategic implications of this revolution. True energy "independence" -- defined as isolation from shocks to global energy markets -- is impossible. And the United States has not gained newfound leverage over energy producers such as Russia. Nonetheless, the energy revolution has given the United States an important strategic capability. In 2011, the growth in U.S. and Canadian production helped moderate global oil prices when supplies from Libya were interrupted during that country's revolution. Going forward, the United States will be better able to help allies by diversifying their energy options and, in some cases, offering them more secure supply lines. To Japan, for example, energy
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flowing from North America is vastly preferable to Middle Eastern supplies that must transit the South China Sea.
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