The big engine manufacturers are developing long-haul trucks to operate on liquefied natural gas.
Eighty percent of future electricity generating capacity is expected to be from natural gas and many coal-fired plants may be shifted to gas. The market incentives are already there and jobs are flourishing.
Government could throw gas on this economic fire by allowing facilitation, better coordination and cutting of red tape between federal and state agencies. Working together, government at all levels can set clear standards that protect both people and profits, yet speed the approval process to create more jobs at a faster pace.
The industry, too, needs to cooperate by disclosing the nature of the fluids they are injecting during the fracking process, and by limiting emissions from the thousands of wells they will drill to alleviate some environmental concerns.
Environmentalists should recognize the longer-term benefits of abundant gas supplies -- burning gas emits a lot less carbon than burning oil and coal, and extracting it is far cleaner than extracting oil from Canadian tar sands -- and work to achieve a compromise that allows rapid development with the necessary safeguards.
And President Barack Obama should help promote a cleaner fossil fuel that shows such promise and is already creating new jobs.
But government support isn't the main problem. Drilling is being authorized today at rates that exceed the industry's capacity to drill. The real problem is that drilling for shale gas and oil could be slowed or stopped if disputes over fracking are not resolved in a way that addresses the public's concerns. Activity has already been suspended in some promising areas.
Cheap gas may not be enough to offset the drag of a slowing global economy this year, but it will boost long-term investment, help the beleaguered manufacturing sector and increase exports.
Building petrochemical plants could suddenly become attractive in the United States. Manufacturers will "reshore" production to take advantage of low natural gas and electricity prices. Energy costs will be lower for a long time, giving a competitive advantage to companies that invest in America, and also helping American consumers who get hit hard when energy prices spike.
Other countries like China will attempt to replicate America's good luck, but will fail because they lack the unique legal, political and market institutions which have led to our success.