Meanwhile, the IEA expects that much-improved vehicle fuel efficiency will slowly reduce U.S. oil demand.
The Obama administration has adopted rules raising fuel efficiency for new cars to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 - roughly double the present standard.
Together, rising oil production and shrinking demand should dramatically reduce U.S. imports, says the IEA. In 2011, they had already fallen to 9.5 million barrels a day (mbd), roughly half of U.S. consumption.
But by 2035, the IEA expects net imports of only 3.4 mbd. The decline is split roughly between higher production - including biofuels - and savings from greater fuel efficiency.
The IEA sees profound consequences. For starters, the long-standing U.S. trade deficit will narrow and might disappear. In 2011, oil imports represented two-thirds of the deficit in goods.
While the United States will use less imported oil, it should also become a substantial exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Until a few years ago, it "was expected to become a major importer of LNG."
Abundant and cheap natural gas should support a manufacturing revival by attracting energy-intensive industries such as "aluminum, paper or iron and steel, or . . . petrochemicals . . . where feedstock costs can represent over 80 percent of total operating expenses."
Within a few decades, the United States could attain Nixon's once-impossible goal. However, the IEA warns that growing independence won't insulate the United States entirely from global markets.
"Oil prices are set globally," the IEA reminds, "so consumers in the United States will continue to feel the effects of worldwide price fluctuations."