By Keith Mauck

Today's headlines are fearsome. Yet amid the bad news, there is hope for greater U.S. security through energy. 

Gone are the days of stressing over OPEC and oil-supply disruptions; that 40-year nightmare is over. Today, we're experiencing an oil and natural gas boom that promises to strengthen the country. 

Rising U.S. crude production generates huge economic benefits. Oil production is 8.87 million barrels a day — up from 5 million barrels in 2008. The energy trade deficit has declined, U.S. energy investments are growing and new jobs are being created. By next year, look for only 21 percent of our liquid fuel needs to be imported, down from 60 percent in less than a decade. 

Hydraulic fracturing is reducing greenhouse gases from oil and natural gas operations. A September U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study found a 12-percent decline in methane emissions since 2011. The largest reductions come from fracked wells. And the use of clean natural gas to generate electricity also lowers carbon dioxide emissions. 

So why don't our politicians and regulators recognize the geo-political, economic and environmental benefits of producing oil and gas right here? Many do, but certainly not all. 

Pennsylvania — now a major gas producer — is considering a new extraction tax, which would raise costs for producers and increase natural gas prices, harming consumers and businesses. President Obama continues to delay the Keystone XL pipeline while Congress moves at a snail's pace to approve exports of U.S. natural gas and oil. 

It's time for our leaders to accept the new energy reality and encourage the growth of the oil and natural gas industry. 

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