Hard Facts: An Energy Primer

August 29, 2012

The Institute of Energy Research recently published Hard Facts, an energy primer that seeks to correct myths that shroud current debate surrounding energy.

Domestically, the United States has enough of fossil fuels to last for centuries.

  • In 2011, the United States produced 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, making it the world's top producer.
  • In the same year, the United States produced 5.67 million barrels of oil per day, becoming a third largest oil producer.
  • Proved worldwide reserves of conventional oil doubled from 642 billion barrels in 1980 to 1.3 trillion barrels in 2009.
  • The United States has 261 billion tons of coal in proved reserves, making it the most in the world and over 27 percent of the world's proved coal reserves.
  • In addition, the United States has 486 billion tons of coal in demonstrated reserve base, enough to last domestically for 485 years.

Renewable sources of energy get increasing amounts of subsidies despite their relatively small use as sources of energy.

  • Wind power produced 1.2 percent of the energy used in the United States in 2011.
  • Solar power only produced 0.1 percent of the energy used in the United States in 2011.
  • Federal subsidies in fiscal year 2010 for solar-generated energy were $775.64 per megawatt hour and $56.29 per megawatt hour for wind.
  • This is in contrast to the $3.14 per megawatt hour for nuclear energy, $0.64 for conventional coal, and $0.64 for natural gas and petroleum liquids.

The environmental impacts of traditional sources of energy have also been exaggerated.

  • Since 1970, the six criteria pollutants have declined by 63 percent.
  • This is in the face of the 180 percent increase of electricity generation from coal-fired plants, overall energy consumption increase of 40 percent, and the miles traveled by vehicles increasing by 168 percent.
  • Energy use per person in the United States fell from 359 million British thermal units (BTUs) to 317 million BTUs between 1979 and 2010.
  • The United States emitted only 17 percent of the global total of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to China's 24 percent.
  • Furthermore, China's carbon dioxide emissions rose 167 percent from 1999 to 2009, whereas U.S. emissions decreased by 4.4 percent.

Source: "Hard Facts: An Energy Primer," Institute for Energy Research, 2012.

 

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