Nogee, former clean energy program director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, noted polls show Americans overwhelmingly support renewable options such as wind or solar power.
Currently, renewables provide 8 percent of the country's energy, and such options typically are dismissed by oil and natural gas industry officials because of reliability concerns, but Nogee pointed to a recent Department of Energy study that found the U.S. could derive as much as 90 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2050.
That study, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, concluded a reliable electric grid powered by renewable energy can be developed using existing technology, with incremental improvements over time.
“Breakthroughs would be terrific and we should increase funding for research and development, but the fact is that we don't make good use of the technologies that we already have that can help meet our energy needs affordably and cleanly with domestic resources,” Nogee said.
Even though Chesapeake has invested in Sundrop Fuels, a company working to produce “green gasoline” from natural gas and waste plant matter, McClendon insists traditional energy sources are the keys to independence.
“Domestic oil and natural gas will be the foundation of our nation's energy independence,” he said. “The supply is available and it can meet our country's fueling and power needs right now.
Continental Resources Inc. has been at the forefront of America's rebirth as an oil producer. CEO Harold Hamm is certain the U.S. and rest of North America can produce enough oil to make imports unnecessary. Hamm is an adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
U.S. oil imports peaked at more than 60 percent of the country's consumption in 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Imports dipped to 49.3 percent in 2010, making the first time in a decade that the U.S. had reached that threshold. Imports fell to 45 percent in 2011.
“I'm convinced; I am 100 percent sure that we can be energy independent in North America,” Hamm said. “We're estimating in the next 10 years we can be there. It might come sooner than that.
“I didn't think we'd be less than 50 percent imports as quickly as we've gotten here. I thought it would be four or five more years before we reached that.”
CONTRIBUTING: ADAM WILMOTH, ENERGY EDITOR