America's energy production and reserves are soaring and emissions are falling. The boom is fueling tremendous job creation as hundreds of billions of dollars are spent to keep production growing and to use cheaper American energy in manufacturing. This is fueling additional tax revenue for governments, while making millions of Americans rich and saving the rest of us a lot of money on our energy bills.
Clearly, the energy boom is doing a lot of good. However, not every part of the boom is positive. Produced water from fracking is thought to cause earthquakes, while overall water usage for fracking is impacting already parched areas of the country.
Worse yet, there's an ugly side of the boom. Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK), for example, has been accused of collusion to keep lease prices down in Michigan by avoiding price competition with another oil and gas competitor. The company is also accused of shortchanging landowners on oil and gas royalties in Pennsylvania. On top of that, companies such as Kodiak Oil & Gas (UNKNOWN:KOG.DL) have incinerated hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of natural gas in North Dakota. Lack of pipeline infrastructure leaves these companies with no choice but to flare excess gas instead of venting it into the atmosphere, which would be much worse for the environment.
The industry and the nation undoubtedly have a lot of work left to make America's energy boom even better. The problem is that both sides of the debate tend to refuse to look at each other's considerations, which is hindering real progress. I created the slide show below to help put the boom into better total perspective. It shows all the good the industry is doing while also highlighting some areas of weakness that need to be addressed.