“Why can’t the energy industry overcome public concern over fracking?”
The question hung in the air like a half-filled balloon before one of the panelists popped it.
“Most people just don’t understand the process and how advanced the technology has become. They don’t understand how low the risk is. And they don’t appreciate what it means economically, not just at a local level but at a national and global level.”
This candid exchange was one of several I participated in as Saxum hosted the PRWeek Energy Roundtable in Oklahoma City earlier this year. An article based on the roundtable discussion is published in the June issue of PRWeek.
What an awesome experience, sitting around a table of people charged with telling one of the most exciting stories in America today — the story of energy independence. After nearly 50 years of paying lip service to the idea that our country can and should wean itself from its addiction to foreign sources of energy, according the folks in that room that day, we’re actually doing it.
That fact became even more evident as Saxum’s Digital team completed the #USofEnergy map project it had been working on in the run-up to the event. Surveying data on available resources and known deposits among nearly every vertical in the energy sector — oil, natural gas, coal, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass and nuclear — our team discovered that the United States is in the first phase of what will hopefully become a trend toward self-reliance.
Of course, developing more energy resources at home doesn’t necessarily mean total energy independence. The United States will continue to rely on energy, petroleum in particular, from other parts of the world. Our growing demand is simply too great to be sustained by domestic resources alone. But even shifting toward a more balanced national energy portfolio carries with it tremendous geopolitical implications. Simply put, an America less reliant on foreign oil (read: OPEC) is an America less beholden to nations and leaders who exhibit anti-American behavior or harbor those who do.
Energy independence means fewer wars.
It also means the renewal of several regions of our country hardest hit by the outsourcing of American manufacturing. In Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have helped unlock trillions of cubic feet of natural gas once thought unreachable. Millions of dollars flow with it, straight into the hands of rural residents in the form of royalty payments. This money is used to rebuild farms, local businesses and churches. Companies operating in these communities donate millions to charitable causes, improving the support network for those in need.
From the oil fields of North Dakota to the windy prairies of Kansas to the sun-soaked valleys of Arizona, the American energy industry is soaring, and local communities are soaring with it.
This makes our job even more fun. As energy industry communicators, we have the unique opportunity to contribute to the defining dialogue of our time. It isn’t always easy — environmental and political issues still abound — but it’s worth every ounce of time and energy spent.
Bad news may sell, but news this good is priceless.Featured image credit: PRWeek