Tom Flake puts up a post at my place that's more than a little eye-opening:
You may have heard some say that we are the Saudi Arabia of coal. It turns out that the data shows we are also the Saudi Arabia of oil. Note: The headings on the columns are in Millions of Barrels and Trillions of Cubic Feet. This means that the USGS estimates that the United States has 1.5 Trillion Barrels of oil and 45 Billion Barrels of liquid natural gas resources. For comparison, Saudi Arabia has about 260 Billion Barrels of reserves, about 1/5 the United States! And according to Wikileaks, those may have been overstated by as much as 40%, to encourage foreign investment. It is possible that Saudi Arabia has only 1/9 as much oil as the United States!
BTW my estimate is conservative because it doesn't include Canadian oil shale or tar sands, both of which have quantities greater than the Canadians are ever likely to use, thus selling to us makes great sense for them and further alleviates our need for oil from outside North America.
Admittedly, the lion's share of the U.S deposits reside in the Green River Formation located in the western region of the lower 48, in the form of oil shale, which is difficult to extract and only economical to recover above the $70 per barrel price. Every time an oil company THINKS about developing the Green River, the world price for crude mysteriously (or not) lowers to below the economical level of development. In the world of private enterprise, uncertainty is a killer when you are trying to raise capital to finance a project making this an area the government ought to intervene as a matter of national security. Its location makes it more attractive on the other hand, because it is in the lower 48 making it more difficult for those who wish us ill to cut the supply lines by sinking tankers or blocking the Suez canal.
Think about it this way. How many jobs would be created in drilling the wells, creating the processing facilities, the refineries, the pipelines, and the ancillary industries, trucks, drill heads, piping etc.? AND at $100 per barrel we are spending $730 Billion dollars per year overseas. If we could keep that money in the domestic economy and tax it, how much better off would the federal budget be? Finally, most of this oil sits on Federal land, if the government charged $20 per barrel in royalties to the oil companies, how much of the national debt could we pay down? 1.4 Trillion Barrels x $20 = More than enough.
Lots more where that came from, with charts and links.