Crude Awakening

New supplies of oil mean the U.S. is inching toward energy independence

It may be hard to believe as gas prices break new records, but the U.S. is actually in the midst of an energy boom. In 2011 domestic oil production reached its highest level since 2003, and one state--shale-oil-shilling North Dakota--pumped more crude than entire OPEC countries like Ecuador. For the first time in more than 60 years, we're selling more petroleum products than we buy. (See timeline at right.)

That's great news for the domestic oil and gas industry--and the roughnecks and engineers it employs--but the rest of us won't reap many rewards. President Obama recently vowed to "reduce our nation's...

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