American energy executives and policymakers are basking in the country’s newfound oil production clout. They’re reveling in the comeback story, written by improved techniques for shale oil and gas extraction, that have made the United States the largest oil producer in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia.
But amid the congratulations, some smart people are offering a warning. Being an oil and gasoline giant is nice, they say, but it also presents a problem: It lulls Americans into believing that there’s no harm in relying almost exclusively on gasoline and diesel as transport fuel. Outside of a few wealthy people who can afford an $85,000 Tesla, our transportation sector and ergo our whole economy, they say, is addicted to petroleum. This is why they’re urging U.S. energy policymakers and industrialists to return to the complex work of getting more of us into cars and trucks that can run on alternative fuels.