While there’s a lot of talk about green energy sources like wind and solar power, the simple truth is that we aren’t going to be moving exclusively towards these options right away. Moving towards renewable energy is going to require a transitional period where more traditional energy helps fill the gap. And despite a push towards green energy, the oil and gas industry is currently experiencing a boom. Where OPEC once largely held a monopoly on energy resources, the United States has been aggressively forcing its way into the market.

It’s a change largely unprecedented. 2018 was the first time in 75 years that the United States could be seen as a net exporter of petroleum liquids. Between November 20 and December 5, the country exported more of these goods than they imported. That’s a good sign for the industry, but it’s equally important because it indicates that the U.S. has reached a point where they aren’t dependent on other nations to provide them with their energy needs. These numbers cover both crude oil and oil-derived liquids. The latter covers a wide range of different substances ranging from gasoline to diesel. All told, the discrepancy between barrels imported and exported was 211,000. That provision is important. While America is making major moves towards becoming energy independent, it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to sustain ourselves on domestically produced crude oil alone anytime soon.

But that’s not a change that should be underestimated. This change has been unprecedented for three-quarters of a century, and it’s a tide shift from a decade ago. These shifting circumstances are largely predicated on our move towards extracting oil from American shale formations. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a change that’s happened overnight. America has slowly been moving more towards energy independence throughout the last ten years. 2017 saw an all-time high for America’s stockpiling of oil and natural gas reserves in recorded history.

While some might worry that the move towards shale is essentially strip-mining American natural resources, that’s hardly true. The field at Prudhoe Bay – which is the largest oil resource in America but hardly the only one – is estimated to be able to produce crude oil that could cover 6.5 years of total U.S. consumption and natural gas for 12 years of U.S. consumption. America’s reserves won’t be enough to keep us powered into perpetuity, but as we transition to new energy sources, America will at least have a significant stockpile that won’t leave it beholden entirely to foreign interests.