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North American Oil and Gas Reserves: Prospects and Policy


  • Bailey, Jonathan

    (Harvard University)

  • Lee, Henry

    (Harvard University)


Expanding estimates of North America's supply of accessible shale gas, and more recently, shale oil, have been trumpeted in many circles as the most significant energy resource development since the oil boom in Texas in the late 1920s. How large are these resources? What challenges will need to be overcome if their potential is to be realized? How will they impact U.S. energy policy? To address these questions, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and two of its programs, the Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Geopolitics of Energy Project, convened a group of experts from business, government, and academia on May 1, 2012, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The following report summarizes the major issues discussed at this workshop. Since the discussions were off-the-record, no comments are attributed to any individual. Rather, this report attempts to summarize the arguments on all sides of the issues. The policy implications of significant additional supplies of domestic oil and gas to the United States are far ranging. Due to time constraints, many important issues were not covered in the depth that they deserved. Examples would include the impact of additional oil and gas supplies on existing U.S. efforts to reduce carbon emissions and its historical commitment to support other fuels, such as coal and nuclear power, or newer options, such as wind and solar energy. Further, as one participant pointed out, officials from industry are constrained under U.S. antitrust laws from sharing proprietary information.

Suggested Citation

  • Bailey, Jonathan & Lee, Henry, 2012. "North American Oil and Gas Reserves: Prospects and Policy," Working Paper Series rwp12-039, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-039

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