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Council on Foreign Relations


8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Economics, Civics, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Article

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States

How the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry Works

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  • This article explains how the United States' oil and gas industry operates, how oil and gas are produced, how the industry is organized, and many impacts of mining and burning fossil fuels.
  • Students will learn what the future may hold for American oil and gas, see comparisons of energy sources in numerous graphs, and connect the war in Ukraine to the energy debate.
Teaching Tips


  • This article contains a wealth of information about many facets of the American oil and gas industry.
  • The article utilizes several text structures and features and will enhance student understanding and comprehension.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be able to read several types of charts and graphs. 


  • Connections can be made in math classes using real-world data to inform their calculations or discussing data analysis and graphs.
  • Before reading, use the question subheadings on the left side of the page as a guide. Post each question around the room and have students jot down answers to each of the questions then circulate to read the responses and discuss.
  • After reading, have students discuss solutions and issues that may be of top importance to address climate change swiftly.
  • Social studies classes can discuss ways to address climate change and a conversion away from fossil fuels in a just manner.
Scientist Notes
This article walks readers through how oil and gas are produced, how the U.S. oil industry is structured and works, how the government and the oil industry are connected, and finally what impacts using oil and gas have on the climate. The article does include some basic science around fossil fuels, what they are, and how they affect the climate. It also includes a lot of information about how oil and gas are intertwined with business and the government, domestically and internationally. Overall, the article is a great introduction to fossil fuels and their importance in society, as well as how complicated it is to divest from them. Links and resources to other information are included. These resources are largely from the U.S. government, U.N., or other CFR articles. The science presented is accurate. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.14.6-8 Compare historical and contemporary means of changing societies, and promoting the common good.
      • D2.Civ.1.9-12 Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of local, state, tribal, national, and international civic and political institutions.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.9-12 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
    • Dimension 2: History
      • D2.His.1.9-12 Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.10 By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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