Declining US Fossil Fuel Consumption

The United States has abundant fossil fuel (coal, oil and natural gas) resources. In 1941, the United States was the largest producer and exporter of oil in the world. America became a net importer of oil by 1950, due to the country’s love affair with the automobile.

In 2017, fossil fuels are the dominant fuel to generate electricity in the United States. Natural gas generates 32% and coal 30% of America’s electrical power. Oil generates less than 1% of America’s electrical power, primarily in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

The latest data from the United States Energy Information Agency (EIA) show dramatic changes in the fuels that generate electrical power in our country. Coal consumption has plummeted since 2008. As a result, carbon emissions from power plants fell to the lowest level since 1987, even though power capacity has significantly increased over the past thirty years. Oil consumption for electricity generation also declined to the lowest level since 1949.

The consumption of natural gas has increased, primarily because it is the cheapest fuel to generate electricity. Natural gas power plants also are more energy efficient and have a lower operating cost than coal. Natural gas also has 30% to 40% less carbon emissions than coal as a fuel. The EIA anticipate that natural gas will surpass coal as the largest source of fuel for electrical power in the United States by the end of 2018.

Renewable energy, primarily wind and solar are rapidly growing as a source for electrical power. The EIA anticipates that wind energy could provide more than 20% of America’s electrical power by 2030. I am a proponent of renewable energy. I am also an opponent of America exporting liquified natural gas (LNG). Why? Fossil fuels are not a renewable energy source and the world will eventually deplete the supplies of inexpensive coal, oil and natural gas. It will take decades to fully develop America’s renewable energy resources. Natural gas produces the lowest carbon emissions and is the least expensive fossil fuel. In my opinion, America should take a strategic view of energy and use natural gas as a bridge to a greener future.

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