Transcript for Wrestling with Uncertainty, segment 15 of 16


This little piece of plastic, the National Assessment CD, contains what we think is the most thorough, best-documented, and most user-friendly assessment of United States oil and gas resources ever assembled, and though it contains a huge amount of information, I think its principal message is fairly clear. The assessment confirms observations that oil production in the United States continues to decline, as it has since nineteen seventy-one. The future is uncertain. The decline will be less steep, for example, if oil prices move higher because this will encourage domestic oil exploration.

The natural gas situation is different. Here production has not yet peaked, and the resource is more plentiful, but the assessment shows that even to maintain delivery at present levels we'll need to increase drilling and address a variety of technological and land use considerations. As we approach the twenty-first century, the world is using more and more energy, much of it from fossil fuels. In the United States a variety of energy sources contributes to meeting our needs. Sometimes they compete vigorously. Over the past two decades we've become increasingly aware that each of these sources carries with it indirect costs, costs such as atmospheric change, health problems, damage to the land, and vulnerability of supply.

Finding solutions to these problems can be a difficult task, one that requires information that's free from political or commercial agendas. The National Assessment provides just such a view of our oil and gas resources. This information is now within your reach on CD and on the Internet.

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