Earth Day: Hail fossil fuels, energy of the future

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Article Highlights

  • From 1949 to 2040, fossil fuels have provided, and will continue to provide, the vast majority of our energy by far.

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  • Last year, fossil fuels provided almost 84% of America's energy consumption.

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  • Even after billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for renewable energy, renewables last year provided only 7.8% of America's energy

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On Earth Day, according to various advocates, "events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment." As we observe the event Tuesday, it might be a good time to appreciate the fact that Americans get most of their plentiful, affordable energy directly from the Earth's "natural environment" in the form of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum).

It's largely those energy sources that fuel our vehicles and airplanes; heat, cool and light our homes and businesses; power our nation's factories; and in the process significantly raise our standard of living.

Shouldn't that be part of "increasing our awareness and appreciation of Earth's natural environment" — to celebrate Mother Earth's bountiful natural resources in the form of abundant, low-cost fossil fuels?

Fuel of the future

From 1949 to 2040, fossil fuels have provided, and will continue to provide, the vast majority of our energy by far, according to President Obama's Department of Energy. Last year, fossil fuels provided almost 84% of America's energy consumption,nearly unchanged from the 85% fossil-fuel share in the early 1990s.

Despite Obama's dismissal of oil and other fossil fuels as "energy sources of the past," his own DOE forecasts that they will still be the dominant energy source in 2040, providing more than 80% of our needs. They will continue to serve as the dominant energy source to power our vehicles, heat and light our homes, and fuel the U.S. economy.

Solar, wind marginal

Further, Obama's energy policy has been primarily to force taxpayers to "invest" in "energy sources of the future" — renewables like solar and wind — instead of expanding production of oil, natural gas and coal. But again, DOE data tell a much different story.

Even after billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for renewable energy, renewables last year provided only 7.8% of America's energy, which was actually less than the 9.3% share that renewables provided in 1949. That's not a lot of progress for the politically popular, and very expensive, renewables.

When it comes to solar and wind, those two energy sources provided less than 2.3% of America's energy in 2013. Even in 2040, more than a quarter century from now, solar and wind together will account for only 3.9% of America's energy, according to government forecasts, and all renewables together (including hydropower) will provide only 10.4% of our nation's energy.

To further appreciate the Earth's natural environment on Earth Day, we should celebrate the revolutionary technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that have allowed us to access previously inaccessible, natural energy treasures trapped in tight shale rock miles below the Earth's surface.

 

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Mark J.
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