There are two sides to every story, and the competing public narratives of energy regulation and politics over energy independence are no exception.

The International Energy Agency made global headlines earlier this year when it predicted that the US, for decades the very epitome of a country dependent on foreign energy sources in a way that warped global politics, is nearing energy independence.

While many in the sector have increasingly preferred the word energy security to independence, because it acknowledges the realities of interdependence in both the context of the globe and the North American context, the stark facts of growing energy production in the US couldn’t be ignored by forecasters.

Many of the potential outcomes for the US, for North America, and arguably for the world, are good ones.

Greater self-reliance in energy cuts down on the need for a foreign policy often influenced by questions of resource access and creates potentially beneficial side effects for everything from monetary policy to manufacturing job growth.

But the numbers have proved a flashpoint for contention inside the energy industry, where multi-billion-dollar businesses have been built on regulatory structures established when the US economy was starving for energy access. The details are important, and while the reserves revisions of recent years are now thought to be “real” and the opportunities potentially enormous, how markets are structured and how infrastructure is permitted and built remain huge open questions.

Two of Breaking Energy’s regular contributors – Felicity Carus and Glenn Williams – recently wrote about the IEA report and their pieces illustrate the two main strands of reaction to the report in the energy business. Their stories are below, and detail both the incredible opportunities and the remarkably complex challenges presented by a “game-changing” resource opportunity.