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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Geopolitics of United States Energy Independence
by Mukundan, Bhavna, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2014, 94; 10305855
Abstract (Summary)

Oil has always had strong political attributes, playing a vital role in shaping and evolving global geopolitical patterns. Shifts in world energy patterns lead to changes in the global geopolitical map. Beginning with peak domestic oil production in 1972, the United States has felt the severe consequences of being dependent on foreign oil. Critical scholar Michael Klare argues that America faces a dangerous future if its leaders do not separate energy security from its military and foreign policies. Under President Obama, the current administration has turned to natural gas to solve America's energy problems. This thesis uses Michael Klare's critical approach to analyze the geopolitical and geoeconomic impacts of the shale gas boom in the United States.

This study underscores the importance of the shale gas development to United States energy policy and security by drawing upon research from oil and gas companies, policy and scientific organizations on opposite ends of the political spectrum, environmental groups, public opinion polls, and publications released by local, state, and federal bodies. This study finds that the shale gas boom will be transformative in the United States energy sector if it is able to replace petroleum in the transportation sector and deliver rapid job creation, as promised by the industry. This thesis also finds that the success and future of the shale gas industry lie in its ability to effectively solve environmental, safety, and public concerns regarding the hydraulic fracturing process. Through synthesizing the data with Michael Klare's critical method and additionally using Immanuel Wallerstein's World Systems Theory and theorists from the realist paradigm such as Kenneth Waltz and John Mearsheimer to detail the power shift induced by the decline of American hegemony in the 21st century, this thesis reveals that through achieving energy independence, the United States can slowly detach itself from resource related conflicts in the long-term future. Moreover, this thesis concludes that if the shale gas boom can induce long term American energy independence, then the U.S. will have greater autonomy regarding its energy policy decisions, by not rushing to defend its foreign energy sources in the Middle East and shifting away from future conflicts.

Keywords: Energy Security, Shale Gas, U.S. Energy Policy, OPEC, Petroleum, Natural Gas, Hydraulic Fracturing, Hegemony, Realism, World System's Theory

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Golub, Philip
School: The American University of Paris (France)
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations
Keywords: Energy security, Hegemony, Hydraulic fracturing, Natural gas, OPEC, Petroleum, Realism, Shale gas, United States energy policy, World systems theory
Publication Number: 10305855
ISBN: 978-1-369-49419-8
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