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Profile: HKS Professor Addresses Energy Policies, Global Politics

With global energy policies and challenges requiring both real world experience and academic creativity, Harvard Kennedy School profiles Meghan O’Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: "Less than 10 years ago, the United States was still wallowing in the depths of a long decline in oil and gas production. Today, as technological breakthroughs have opened up newly accessible supplies of shale gas and oil, the country is seemingly awash with black gold. From the long-tapped fields of Alaska and Texas, to the more recently procurable reserves in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota, production is booming. Indeed, according to the Federal Energy Information Administration, the fall of 2013 marked a major turning point; in September, the United States produced more oil than it had in any one month in the previous 24 years, and in October, that amount exceeded the amount of oil the country imported, for the first time in 20 years. Transformation in the gas sector has been equally, or even more, dramatic."  

"The implications of this boom are many, for the United States and for its allies and rivals around the world. Since the 1970s, the political discussion about America’s energy profile has centered around shortages, reliance on other countries, and the complex relation-ships demanded by oil imports. But as evidence of a new possibility of energy independence—or significantly less dependence—emerges, that discourse is expanding to include the wide-reaching geopolitical consequences of such a shift. Meghan O’Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is at the forefront of this debate, helping policymakers respond to the new realities of an unexpected energy revolution."