Sometimes history changes so quietly, few notice. I believe we are living in such times. In just the last few years, new technologies have made it possible for our nation to become energy independent. For a generation now, we've made economic and political decisions based on the stark reality that the oil we needed to drive our cars was controlled by countries who exploited our dependence. In 2011, we spent $450.8 billion to buy foreign oil — nearly $1,500 for every American.
Now in places with names like Barnett, Haynesville, Eagle Ford and Marcellus, we have discovered enough natural gas to meet the needs of our nation for the next 100 years. Our discoveries have been so significant that the price of natural gas has dropped to record lows. One can now envision a future in which natural gas allows our nation to become energy independent with a fuel source that is less expensive and cleaner than foreign oil.
In my role as president of the Longview Chamber of Commerce, it was my pleasure yesterday to lead a delegation from our city including City of Longview Mayor Jay Dean and Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt to Mansfield, Louisiana, where we toured a facility and learned more about the conversion of autos from gasoline to CNG (compressed natural gas). Honda, Ford, Chevy and Chrysler are all building vehicles now that are adapted to run on CNG and for good reason: yesterday I saw customers filling their tanks with CNG for $1.79 per gallon rather than the $3.50+ most of us are paying for gasoline. Eventually, we will have a CNG fueling station in Longview to save local drivers money and create jobs in our region where much of our natural gas reserves have been found.
All this is really good news and we are blessed here at LeTourneau University to be in the middle of it all. From our Texas home, we will have exciting opportunities in the years to come as history changes, and cheap, clean energy fuels economic expansion and national security.