[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Energy.]
By Mike Sommers
Real Clear Energy
Fifty years ago, oil producers in the Middle East stopped exporting petroleum to the U.S., leading to high gas prices, lengthy waits at filling stations, and a nationwide economic malaise that overshadowed Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Our dependence on foreign energy gave rise to that crisis. But that problem is now history, thanks to a U.S. energy industry that harnessed innovation in fracking, horizontal drilling, efficiency, and other breakthroughs. By 2019, America led the world in natural gas and oil production, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. For the first time ever, the U.S. was a net energy exporter.
But memories of the 1970s recently surfaced when a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline temporarily blocked America’s longest fuels artery. The shutdown of a cross-country pipeline once again demonstrated the essential nature of U.S. energy. Fear and panic-buying occurred at the pump when motorists assumed that there would not be enough gasoline to meet demand. Some service stations reported selling days’ worth of fuel in a few hours, leading to temporary outages. The Colonial Pipeline and truckers, marketers, and local operators worked 24/7 with government at all levels to overcome logistical challenges that stood in the way of transporting fuels that supply military bases, airports, distribution centers, and more.