The US Energy Information Agency publishes an in-depth Annual Energy Review. Here are a few interesting findings:
• The United States is poised to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. Our oil imports have fallen 18% from their peak in 2005. The increase is from drilling on lands not controlled by the federal government. We would be making a lot faster progress if the federal government got on board with aggressive drilling. One estimate shows lease fees and taxes from increased drilling could close the federal deficit. The report also shows the percent of our energy we get from oil has dropped from 44% in 1970 to 36% today. Half our oil imports are from our friendly neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Building the XL Pipeline would more rapidly reduce our dependence on oil imported from un-friendly, un-stable countries
• Since 1970 energy consumption per dollar of inflation adjusted Gross Domestic Product has been cut in half. We are on track to reduce CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by next year to meet the original Kyoto Protocol targets. The EIA forecast projects US CO2 emissions will barely grow through 2035 despite economic and population growth. The emission levels don’t fully take into account a Princeton University study that shows, unlike other continents, North American forests absorb half the CO2 we emit. Full accounting would show the US and Canada tied with Iceland as the most efficient countries. Iceland gets most of its energy from fortuitous geothermal sources. We can only deduct forest cover increases since 1990 against the Kyoto emissions but US forest acreage has been growing since 1925. At current growth rates, people alive today may see US forest coverage equal to pre-Columbian times.
• From 2000 to 2010 average fuel economy for the entire US vehicle fleet increased 3.5%. It would have improved almost twice as fast if we didn’t add 10% ethanol to our gasoline. Ethanol cuts fuel mileage about 3%. Various studies show it takes almost as much energy to produce ethanol as is saved by adding it to gasoline. Most of the oil we use is for transportation.
• Delaware has the 35th lowest energy consumption per capita. Delaware’s official energy plan cherry picked data from surrounding states to indicate we were big energy wasters and needed to switch to expensive renewable energy sources to save the planet.
• Cooling degree days were at near record levels nationally in 2011. As usual, this was seen as more evidence for global warming. More detail shows the impact was isolated to El Nino induced heat waves in the south and southwest with the rest of the country at normal levels. Heating degree days for the 2010-11 heating season were at near normal levels nationwide.