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After decades of anxiety that began with the “oil crisis” of the 1970s, the United States achieved what few believed it could. In 2008, it became the world’s No. 1 producer of oil and gas.

Overtaking oil-producing giants like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada and the UAE was made possible largely by introducing fracking as a new extraction technique. Fracking has been around since 1949, but advancing technology started making it more viable in the late 1980s.

Since then, fracking has grown increasingly sophisticated and has become a powerful method for improving the flow of oil and gas from shale deposits locked deep beneath the earth’s surface.

However, fracking is extremely controversial. It’s the bane of environmentalists who call the technique unsafe and blame it for everything from polluting underground water aquafers to potentially causing earthquakes.

The pushback against fracking has been enormous, so much so that most modern nations have banned the practice. Only four nations allow it. They are the United States, Canada, China, and Argentina.

President Joe Biden is under enormous pressure to join the rest of the world in banning hydraulic fracking, especially from the progressive wing of his own party.

Biden has opted for a compromise approach for now. His position is that fracking must ultimately be phased out but that it’s necessary for the meantime to provide a bridge leading from a fossil fuel-based economy to a green technology system of the future.

Political observers point out that it would have been impossible for Biden to win the state of Pennsylvania if he had come out for an all-out ban on fracking. Without Pennsylvania, it’s doubtful he would have been elected President.

Where does that leave fracking today?

Industry analysts agree that a U.S. ban on fracking any time soon is extremely unlikely. The reasons are several and complex. Those who favor fracking point out that the method has actually helped in the battle against climate change. That’s because most fracking is done to extract natural gas. The latter is 40% less polluting than other forms of fossil fuels.

Second, without fracking, the U.S. would instantly lose one of its most productive sources of relatively low-cost energy. The “easy oil” of the traditional sweet crude wells has since been vastly depleted within U.S. territory.

Losing the ability to frack for gas and oil would return the U.S. to an era of dependence on foreign oil and hit the average citizen hard in the form of higher prices at the pump and heating products for homes.