For those of us old enough to remember the 1973 oil crisis, the current North American oil-and-gas boom has a slightly surreal quality: The familiar problem of high energy demand and low supply is being flipped on its head.
Forty years ago, oil was so scarce that the U.S. government was forced to turn to rationing and price controls. In 1974, the 24 Hours of Daytona race was canceled and newspapers carried public-service announcements with taglines such as “Last Out, Lights Out: Don’t Be Fuelish.” Some futurists predicted that the world oil supply would be exhausted within our lifetimes, and so we had better start building backyard windmills.
Those fears seem antiquated. In North America, new oil and gas discoveries -- coupled with the development of technologies for extracting hydrocarbons from rock formations and Canadian oil sands deposits -- have created a surge in fossil-fuel extraction. Natural gas is now so
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