When it comes to U.S. energy policy, I am as big a fan as anyone in weaning ourselves from the frenzied feeding at the udder of big oil. Anybody around during the Carter administration can hardly forget the images of long gas lines during the fuel shortages of the late 1970s. As a nation, dependence on oil to run our cars, trucks, buses, trains, planes and ships has eased a bit, but oil still dominates. The U.S. industrial sector, though more energy-diverse than transportation, still depends significantly on oil.
The domestic energy profile in 2012 was such that we consumed 95 quadrillion BTUs of energy. Petroleum is still our largest energy source at 37% of that total; natural gas 28%; coal 18%; renewables (including hydropower, wood and waste biomass, biofuels, wind, geothermal, solar and photovoltaics) 9%; and nuclear 8%. The good news is that domestic consumption of renewable energy forms has increased by about 33% in the last five years. The other good news is that our consumption of petroleum has fallen by 12% during the same period.