Several industry executives believe that the U.S. can become energy independent, spurred by technological breakthroughs in drilling that have helped boost oil and natural gas production. "It's been estimated by the Energy Information Agency that we could be the No. 1 oil producer in the world by 2020, surpassing Saudi Arabia. So this is a big deal. It's a game-changing opportunity, and it's of historic proportions," said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.

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