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Secretary Kerry: Shale Development a “Game Changer” for U.S. Diplomacy

At a recent Harvard forum, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States’ boom in shale production, and the low energy prices that came with it, have been a “game changer” for the United States in international relations. As Kerry stated:

“[Oil has] created incredible new possibilities…it has had a profound impact on the budgets and choices of countries that have been creating some problems.”

Even Secretary Kerry, who has long pushed for a bigger shift to renewable energy, acknowledged in his talk at Harvard that the United States is going to need oil for foreseeable future. As Kerry put it,

“[W]e’re going to be using oil for years and years to come in one fashion or another. Plastics and even drugs, other things – you know better than anybody – so it has multiple uses.”

Over the course of a few short years, shale development has helped the United States achieve what few had thought was possible: Not only have we substantially reduced our dependence on foreign energy sources, but we have also gained the ability to influence the world price of oil – shifting the global balance of power to our advantage in the process. As the New York Times explained in a recent article,

“The center of the oil world has spun from the sands of Saudi Arabia to the shale oil fields of Texas and North Dakota, a giant new oil patch some wildcatters have begun to call ‘Cowboyistan.’”

This isn’t the first time Secretary Kerry has acknowledged the benefits of the domestic energy boom, either.  In a 2013 speech, he noted that natural gas is a key element in our country’s contribution to combating climate change. He said:

“If we harness the power of the wind in Mexico and the biomass in Brazil, the sunshine in Chile and Peru, the natural gas in the United States and Argentine, then the enormous benefits for local economies, public health, and of course climate change mitigation could reach beyond every corner of the Americas and beyond.”

According to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. is already leading the world in carbon emission reductions because of natural gas. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy said recently, “Hydrofracking has certainly changed the energy dynamic considerably.  She noted that it has been “enormously beneficial from a clean air perspective, as well as from a climate perspective.”

Furthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes clear that due to fracking and natural gas, our country has been able to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

“[The] rapid deployment of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies, which has increased and diversified the gas supply…is an important reason for a reduction of GHG emissions in the United States.”

In acknowledging the diplomatic and climate benefits of natural gas, Secretary Kerry joins President Obama, other Administration officials, as well as the nation’s top scientists and regulators in understanding that the oil and gas industry has an important role to play in our energy future.

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