Domestic Energy Under President Obama

There seems to be a lot of confusion over the current state of American energy production and trade.  So I thought it might be a good idea to go over some facts regarding the past four years in American energy (which has been a pretty exciting four years!).

Some things to think about:
1)  The recession has had a huge impact on our energy use.  Consumption in 2011 was lower than consumption in 2007.
2)  The natural gas boom has played a large role in our current energy situation.  The glut of natural gas that we have seen will likely soon start to level off (especially if we have a cold winter this year).

Now let’s talk about what has happened.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration has a lot of fun spreadsheets on their website that you can download and play around with.  I would recommend taking a look at their Primary Energy Overview for 1949-2011.  In it you’ll see that Net Imports have dropped for the past four years.  They dropped about 7 quadrillion BTUs from 2008-11 (BTUs are used since these numbers combine various energy sources).  Here are some highlights:

Year Production Net Imports Consumption Renewable Production
73,111,145 25,932,110 99,274,527 7,201,700
72,656,971 22,741,069 94,559,407 7,615,742
74,806,092 21,643,335 97,722,053 8,136,463
78,095,827 18,231,505 97,301,269 9,235,692

There has also been a lot of interest on production on federal lands.  I don’t really know why this matters, but people seem to be pretty keen about it, so here’s the info.

Year Sales of Fossil Fuels Produced on Federal and Indian Lands (Trillion BTU) Sales as Shares of Total U.S. Production
20,429 34.2
20,055 33.6
20,273 33.9
18,953 30.3

Coal is the one issue that I have heard discussed accurately over the past few months.  We’ve discussed coal regulations extensively on this blog, so I’m not going to go in depth here.  Clean Coal technology continues to advance, and our energy needs have been changing rapidly.  Obviously coal is in decline right now, and regulations put in place under the Obama administration have contributed to this decline.  But the decline in consumption and increase in alternate methods of generation have had an impact as well (as well as the glut in natural gas).  Here in Virginia we’ve seen Dominion begin to convert some of their existing coal plants into renewable energy plants; a laudable achievement.

Obviously I’ve missed a lot in this post (it was written fairly quickly, my apologies), so I’ll continue covering this issue for the next couple weeks.  We generally don’t get into “political” coverage here at JECEBlog, but my sense is that there is a lot of misinformation out there on this subject, plus, it’s fun to look back at these bigger trends.  Please comment if you have any information that you’d like to see discussed in a future post.

EIA Annual Energy Review
Energy independence and Security: A Reality Check (Deloitte)

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