The United States is producing more domestic oil than it has in nearly 15 years. New statistics from the Engergy Information Administration (EIA) indicate that in September of this year the U.S. generated an average of nearly 6.5 billion barrels of oil a day—a level the country hasn’t seen since January of 1998. Much of the jump in production has occurred in the past year—the U.S. produced 900,000 more barrels of oil this September than it did last September—and Colorado has played a significant role in this increase. The jump, according to the EIA, is largely due to the use of horizontal drilling combined with a process known as hydraulic fracturing. In the December issue of 5280, senior editor Julie Dugdale and I examined this process commonly referred to as fracking, as well as many of the issues that surround the controversial procedure. Will fracking lead us to energy independence? Or will it drive us farther down the road to environmental armageddon?

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