U.S. now leading in natural gas, oil production, consultant reports at Rancho Santa Fe event


By Kristina Houck

With the evolution of the United States from an energy importer to an energy exporter, the balance of energy production and geopolitical power has largely tilted, according to James Clad, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and current international energy consultant.

In a presentation before the San Diego Committee on Foreign Relations Oct. 15 at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, Clad explained that the U.S. has taken the world lead in natural gas production. And since being ranked the No. 1 gas producer in the world, the country has become the top oil producer as well.

“The benefit of energy security is both political and economical,” said Clad in a phone interview after the event. “It strengthens our country’s hand and gives us a chance to reindustrialize.”

Clad went on to explain that shale energy, in particular, gives the U.S. economic benefits, even offering leverage in terms of sanctions on major producers such as Russia or Iran.

“We’re now less susceptible to the petro-dictators,” Clad said. “Both directly and indirectly, everybody’s got this memory of the oil embargo in the 1970s, which happened twice in 1973 and 1979.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is the process of drilling and injecting water and chemical compounds into the ground in order to fracture shale rocks and recover the natural gas inside.

“Broadly speaking, I’m for this, because I don’t think the environmental damage is anything like what’s described,” he said, noting that fracking isn’t a new method.

Fracking, in fact, has been used since the 19th century and only now is entering a “manufacturing renaissance era” because of ever-changing new technology, he said.

“Shale revolution, broadly, is a good thing,” Clad said. “It’s changing under our noses and it’s enabled us to catch our breath and preserve our national power, which is an important thing.”

Oct. 15 event photos can be found at: