The notion that world oil production had reached its summit and would soon begin a decline—bringing with it shortages, economic collapse, resource wars, and general ruination—was in great vogue not so long ago. Well, writes A. Barton Hinkle, here we are at summer, 2012. The Chicago Tribune reports that the nationwide price for a gallon of regular "has fallen well below $4 a gallon." The term "peak oil" seems to have been completely forgotten. Not only that—it is beginning to look as though the U.S. could largely cease to depend on the Middle East as its principal supplier.