The American Petroleum Institute and the oil and gas industry celebrated a milestone March 17: the 65th birthday of hydraulic fracturing. In those decades, the technology has helped the United States become a world leader in natural gas production.

“Americans have long been energy pioneers, from the 1800s when the first wells were drilled to today,” said Erik Milito, API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations. “As part of that history, on March 17, 1949, we developed the technology to safely unlock shale and other tight formations, and now the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas.”

“Thanks to fracking, we can produce more energy, with a smaller environmental footprint—changing America’s energy trajectory from scarcity to abundance. This is a birthday worth celebrating.”

The group celebrated the occasion with a social media campaign, even posting birthday cards to the website Pinterest.

Fracking, combined with horizontal drilling, is expected to fuel a rise of 44 percent in U.S. natural gas production from 2011 to 2040, as National Driller has written before. The practice is not without controversy or critics, but it has led to jobs booms for states as diverse as Texas, North Dakota and Pennsylvania.

API, quoting a report by IHS, says that in 2012 hydraulic fracturing supported 2.1 million U.S. jobs and contributed $284 billion to the gross domestic product. The report projects up to 3.9 million jobs by 2025, including 515,000 in manufacturing.

The American Petroleum Institute represents hundreds of members in the oil and natural gas industry, including exploration and production companies, refiners and others. For more information, visit