Maximizing Energy Resources Found Within American Borders
Ever since the gasoline shortages of the 1970s, Americans have worried about energy security. What does this mean? If we can't get the coal, natural gas, petroleum and other fuels we need, we must get them from other parts of the world. Not only does this result in increased energy cost, but it results in complicated geopolitical relationships between our country and others. American companies and electric utilities like your current New York electricity provider are doing their best to pull ever more resources from the earth and make the most of what they've already recovered. With energy prices increasing in all sectors, politicians and businessmen alike will be looking for ways to get more raw energy materials and increase the efficiency of the way we use them.
Although petroleum accounts for only a small amount of the electricity Americans use, oil gets a lot of attention. It seems that every time you pull into the local gas station, the price per gallon has gone up when compared to the day before. Even worse, world oil supplies are thought to be past their peak. In fact, Dr. M. King Hubbert, a geophysicist, accurately predicted the levels of petroleum recovery over the last fifty years of the twentieth century. Now that the Hubbert Peak is in the rear view mirror, competition for petroleum supplies will only become worse.
According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States ran yet another oil deficit. While 2 billion gallons of petroleum were extracted from land within our borders, we still had to import 4.3 billion gallons. Ever since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig failed in 2010, spilling countless gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the government has been reluctant to offer new permits for this kind of petroleum extraction. If energy independence is to be reached, drilling in the Gulf must be capitalized upon even further, as the region accounts for over half of the country's total production. As Angel Gonzalez pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, the oil industry and the President are working toward an agreement to ensure drilling is done, but is done safely.
Natural gas accounts for 23.3% of the electricity generated by American power plants. While natural gas burns cleaner than petroleum or coal, it's still not an ideal solution. Another benefit of natural gas is that it can be used in a lot of different ways. Dave Michaels, a reporter for the Dallas News, points out that T. Boone Pickens and other proponents of natural gas are calling for expanded use of the fuel. In fact, natural gas can be used in place of gasoline or diesel fuel in commercial trucks.
The future outlook for natural gas is pretty bright. The United States boasts a vast supply of reserves; enough to last for decades. According to the Natural Gas Supply Association, there are nearly 2,600 trillion cubic feet of reserves located underneath American soil. As a result of this bounty, Americans don't have to import much of the fuel.
Coal is an extremely important fuel when it comes to electricity generation. In 2009, nearly 45% of our electricity came from burning coal. The vast (and growing) need for the material is primarily satisfied by mining American reserves. In 2010, 980 million tons of coal were extracted from within our borders.
In the past, coal was considered a somewhat dirty fuel. Recent research has resulted in so-called â€œclean coalâ€ technology. In the future, coal-derived electricity will be much better for the environment. Even more importantly, the fact that we have so much coal beneath us means that we won't need to import too much.
Fossil fuels have done so much for the American way of life, but alternative fuels will be the future, particularly when it comes to energy independence. These forms of generating electricity simply don't need to be imported. Solar cells provide power by capturing the energy of sunshine. Tidal electricity is obtained from low-pollution facilities on the coast. Wind turbines have sprouted up across the country, powering the homes around the wind farms.
What is the lesson? Technology and research and American ingenuity will usually provide solutions to our big problems. As we maximize our use of traditional fuels, alternative energies will increase the United States' energy independence thus increasing your independence as an electric New York customer.