Dunn and McClelland, 13 – Professor of International Politics and Head of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham AND Associate Director for North America at the risk analytics consultancy Maplecroft in charge of energy policy (David and Mark, “Shale gas and the revival of American power: debunking decline?,” The Royal Institute of International Affairs, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2346.12081/abstract)//eek
One of the obstacles to good scholarship that all observers of contemporary affairs face is the temptation to exaggerate the impact of recently occurring events in relation to either established patterns of behaviour or longer-term systemic trends. Economists refer to this as ‘present bias’. As the dominant power in the international system, the United States is open to more such speculation than any other nation. Following costly military interventions and questionable economic policies, America’s relative decline has been widely announced, especially given dramatic economic growth in China. Those who have defended the durability of US power have often chosen to take the fight to the declinists on somewhat intangible grounds, stressing soft power, the importance of liberal democratic norms and the changing nature of power itself. This article, however, takes a different approach and suggests that there are still sufficient grounds for defending the resil- ience of American power on material grounds: namely, that the revolution in shale gas production calls for a fundamental reassessment of the material basis of American power. While significant caveats remain regarding environmental issues, the lifespans of shale gas wells and the utility of energy independence, the more optimistic assessments of the potential of US shale basins indicate an energy future for the United States that is markedly different from the one envisaged only five years ago, when LNG terminals were being developed in the United States to process large imports. The revolution in shale gas production now offers the alluring prospect for US policy-makers of a far greater retention of American wealth than previously envisaged, and hundreds of billions of dollars every year— which would have been spent on energy imports—available for more produc- tive use in the American economy. When Canadian energy reserves are factored into future forecasts, and the North American market is seen more broadly, the future situation looks even better for the United States. There are likely to be much greater dollar inflows back into the United States from Canada than if those same petrodollars were being spent, as they are now, in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia or Qatar. On top of the benefits generated by falling energy imports, shale gas production has caused the price of natural gas to plummet, reducing costs for both US consumers and US industrial and manufacturing interests.