Surprises in EIA March Energy Report

Yesterday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) came out with its regular monthly energy report for March 2013. You can learn a lot about energy use in the U.S. browsing this report.

Many belief that if we just plow more money into alternative energy, while shutting down fossil fuels, then we could replace nasty CO2 emitting energy sources in just a few years, and save the planet from the ravages of global warming.

Don’t listen to politicians, environmentalists, climate deniers, global warming alarmists, or energy companies about these things. You’ll never get strait answers from them.

Whatever you do, don’t listen to President Obama! Under his “all-of-the-above” energy policy Obama has done everything but order drone strikes on domestic refineries and pipelines to cut fossil fuel production. In speeches Obama’s only favored fossil fuel is natural gas. But, under his Administration, natural gas production on federal lands has been reduced 33%. Crude oil is down to. Actions speak far louder than words.

Fear not. The March 2013 monthly energy report fact checks the claims.

The look to the future is found reflected in the mirror to the past.

Monthly Energy Report

The BLS puts out a monthly jobs report where everyone ogles and argues over the unemployment rate and job creation figures. The EIA puts out a monthly energy report that doesn’t even rate a yawn. It should get more attention.

Energy production is one of the few bright spots in the economy and the types and amounts of energy used play a vital roll in the global warming discussion.

The report contains charts and graphs and big tables of numbers summarizing all sorts of stuff about U.S. energy production and consumption over the last 40 years, from 1973 through 2012. There is a little something for everyone.

Many energy amounts are listed in units of quadrillions of BTUs. Yup, that’s right! You were wrong all these years. There really IS such a things as a quadrillion. It is a 1 followed by 15 zeros!

1 Quadrillion = 1,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s one big number!)

Primary Energy Overview – 1973-2012

Total energy consumption compared to total renewable energy consumption from 1973 to 2012 (Source: EIA March 2013 Table 1.1)

There is a lot more to it, but for today lets just look at total U.S. energy consumption (the whole enchilada) from every existing energy source compared to renewable energy consumption.

The above graph shows total energy plotted with total renewable energy consumption for the entire United States from 1973 to 2012.

Note that renewable energy has been around for 40 years but, despite nearly $100 billion invested in renewable energy in the last 4 years, it has hardly made a dent in total energy consumption.

From the graph and other monthly report data we find these ‘then and now’ comparisons:

  • In 1973 renewable energy supplied 5.8% of total U.S. energy consumed
  • In 1973 fossil fuels supplied 92.9% of all U.S. energy
  • By 2012, 40 years later, renewable energy production doubled from 4.4 to 8.8 quadrillion BTUs
  • By 2012 total U.S. energy consumption increased by 25% from 75.7 to 95.1 quadrillion BTUs
  • By 2012 renewable energy rose to 9.3% of total energy consumption, up only 3.5% in 40 years
  • By 2012 fossil fuels still supplied 82% of total U.S. energy consumption

The population of the United States increased by 47% between 1973 and 2012. Energy consumption, however, increased by only 25% during that time period due to conservation efforts. That is pretty good, but we can do better.


Conservation and investments in alternative energy sources like wind, solar, hydro, nuclear and biofuels over 40 years only reduced U.S. dependence on fossil fuels about 11% from their heyday in the early 1970s.

Renewables, though doubled in 40 years, still only provide 9.3% of total energy consumption. Renewables have remained down in the 5% to 10% range despite huge investments under Obama.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this month’s energy report, it is that we have a very long way to go before America will be able to wean itself off fossil fuels.

If the human-caused climate change models are right then, based on the last 40 years, the battle to save the planet will be lost before fossil fuel consumption can be ended.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Mar 28, 2013, in Business, Climate, economics, Economy, Energy, environment, Government, news, Opinion, Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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