Fossil Fuel Facts
- In 2010, the United States produced 22.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas,[i] making it the world’s largest natural gas producer. [ii]
- In 2011, the United States produced 5.67 million barrels of oil per day, making it the world’s third largest oil producer. [iii]
- Proved conventional oil reserves worldwide more than doubled from 642 billion barrels in 1980 to more than 1.3 trillion barrels in 2009. [iv]
- The United States is home to the richest oil shale deposits in the world—estimates are there are about 1 trillion barrels of recoverable oil in U.S. oil shale deposits, nearly four times that of Saudi Arabia’s proved oil reserves.[v]
- The United States has 261 billion tons of coal in its proved coal reserves. These are the world’s largest coal reserves and over 27 percent of the world’s proved coal reserves.[vi]
- The United States produces nearly 1.1 billion short tons of coal a year, making it the world’s second largest coal producer.[vii] China produces over 3.5 billion short tons a year.
- The United States has 486 billion tons of coal in its demonstrated reserve base, enough domestic coal to use for the next 465 years at current rates of consumption. These estimates do not include Alaska’s coal resources, which according to government estimates, are larger than those in the lower 48 states.[viii]
- The federal government leases less than 3 percent of federal lands for oil and natural gas production–2.2 percent of federal offshore areas[ix] and less than 5.4 percent of federal onshore lands.[x]
- The world could hold more than 700 quadrillion (700,000 trillion) cubic feet of methane hydrates—more energy than all other fossil fuels combined.[xi]
Renewables and Nuclear
- In 2010, wind power produced 0.9 percent of the energy used in the United States.[xii]
- In 2010, solar power produced 0.1 percent of the energy used in the United States.[xiii]
- Total federal subsidies in fiscal year 2007 were $24.34 per megawatt hour for solar-generated electricity and $23.37 per megawatt hour for wind, compared with $1.59 for nuclear, $0.67 for hydroelectric power, $0.44 for conventional coal, and $0.25 for natural gas and petroleum liquids.[xiv]In fiscal year 2010, the subsidies were even higher. For solar power, they were $775.64 per megawatt hour, for wind $56.29, for nuclear $3.14, for hydroelectric power $0.82, for coal $0.64 and for natural gas and petroleum liquids $0.64.[xv]
- In 2010, hydroelectric power contributed 3 percent of the energy used in the United States and 6.3 percent of the electricity.[xvi]
- Today, there are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States and construction began for all of these reactors prior to 1974.[xvii]
Energy Efficiency and Environmental Indicators
- Since 1970, the six so-called “criteria pollutants” have declined by 63 percent, even though the generation of electricity from coal-fired plants has increased by over 180 percent, gross domestic product has increased by 204 percent, energy consumption has increased by 40 percent, and vehicle miles traveled have increased by 168 percent.[xviii]
- Energy use per person in the United States fell 12 percent between 1979 and 2010 from 359 million BTUs to 317 million BTUs per person.[xix]
- Energy intensity—energy consumption per dollar of GDP—fell by 52 percent between 1973 and 2010.[xx]
- In 2010, China was responsible for 24 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In comparison, the United States, the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, emitted 17 percent of the global total.
- China’s CO2 emissions increased by 167 percent between 1999 and 2009, while CO2 emissions from the United States decreased by 4.4 percent over the same 10-year period.[xxi]
[i] Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review, Table 4.1, http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec4_3.pdf
[ii] BP, Statistical Review of Energy 2011, p. 22, http://www.bp.com/assets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/reports_and_publications/statistical_energy_review_2011/STAGING/local_assets/pdf/statistical_review_of_world_energy_full_report_2011.pdf.
[iii]Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy review, Table 3.1, http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec3_3.pdf
[iv] Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics: Crude Oil Proved Reserves, http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=5&pid=57&aid=6&cid=regions&syid=1980&eyid=2010&unit=BB .
[v] Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels, Development of America’s Strategic Unconventional Fuels Resources—Initial Report to the President and the Congress of the United States (Sept. 2006), p. 5, http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/reserves/npr/publications/sec369h_report_epact.pdf; US Geological Survey, Oil Shale and Nahcolite Resources of the Piceance Basin, Colorado p. 1, Oct. 2010, http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-069/dds-069-y/. The Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels estimated that U.S. oil shale resources were 2.1 trillion barrels. In 2010, the USGS estimated that in-place resources in the Piceance Basin were 50 percent larger than previously estimated (1.5 trillion barrels versus 1.0 trillion barrels). The addition of these 0.5 trillion barrels makes U.S. in-place oil shale resources a total of 2.6 trillion barrels. Previous estimates put the total economically recoverable oil shale resources at 800 billion barrels. Assuming the same rate of recovery for these additional 0.5 trillion barrels brings the total recoverable resources to 982 billion barrels of oil resources.
[vi] Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics, http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=1&pid=7&aid=6
[vii] Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics-Coal-Production, http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=1&pid=7&aid=1&cid=regions&syid=2000&eyid=2010&unit=TST.
[viii] Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review 2010, Table 4.11, http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/sec4_23.pdf a U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Coal Geology, Resources, and Coalbed Methane Potential, Nov. 2005, http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-077/.
[ix] See Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Offshore Energy and Minerals Management, http://www.boemre.gov/offshore/. According to the administration’s website, the outer continental shelf is 1.76 billion acres (http://www.boemre.gov/ld/PDFs/GreenBook-LeasingDocument.pdf page 1) and only 38 million acres are leased (Department of Interior, Oil and Gas Lease Utilization – Onshore and Offshore, http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=239255 page 4). That is a mere 2.16% of the entire Outer Continental Shelf.
[x] According to the Department of Interior, 38 million acres of onshore lands are leased for oil and natural gas production. See Table 3 in Department of Interior, Oil and Gas Lease Utilization – Onshore and Offshore, http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=239255 According to the Congressional Research Service, the federal government owns just over 650 million acres of land. See Appendix A. Congressional Research Service, Major Federal Land Management Agencies: Management of Our Nation’s Lands and Resources, May 15, 1995, http://www.ncseonline.org/nle/crsreports/natural/nrgen-3.cfm. The federal government also controls an additional 58 million acres of federal mineral estate below privately owned surface estate. See Bureau of Land Management, Split Estate, http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/MINERALS__REALTY__AND_RESOURCE_PROTECTION_/bmps.Par.98100.File.dat/SplitEstate08finalWeb.pdf. The federal government owns mineral rights on 708,000,000 acres onshore and leases 38,000,000 acres, a mere 5.4% of federal onshore lands.
[xi] U.S. Geological Survey, Natural Gas Hydrates-Vast Resource, Uncertain Future, http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs021-01/fs021-01.pdf and Department of Interior, Gas Hydrates on Alaska’s North Slope Hold One of Nation’s Largest Deposits of Technically Recoverable Natural Gas , Nov.12, 2008, http://www.doi.gov/archive/news/08_News_Releases/111208.html.
[xii] Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review, http://www.eia.gov/mer/pdf/pages/sec1_7.pdf
[xiv] Energy Information Administration, Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy Markets 2007- Chapter 5: Electricity Subsidies Per Unit of Production (April 2008), p. 106, http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/chap5.pdf. See also Institute for Energy Research, Subsidizing American Energy: A Breakdown By Source, July 30, 2008, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2008/07/30/energy-subsidies-study/.
[xv] Energy Information Administration, Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2010, July 2011, http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf and https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2011/08/03/eia-releases-new-subsidy-report-subsidies-for-renewables-increase-186-percent/
[xvii] Matthew L. Wald, Nuclear ‘Renaissance’ Is Short on Largess, New York Times, Dec. 7, 2010, http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/nuclear-renaissance-is-short-on-largess/.
[xviii] Environmental Protection Agency, Air Quality Trends, http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/aqtrends.html.
[xix] Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review p. 13, Table 1.5, http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/sec1_13.pdf
[xx] Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review, http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec1_16.pdf
[xxi] Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics, http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=90&pid=44&aid=8.