Capitol Hill (CNN) – Oil has just hit a 30-month high, Japan is battling with a potential nuclear disaster and this week marks the anniversary of the deadly Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion.
The potential energy crisis of future years may be sending early transmission signals. Yes, last week (you missed this?) President Obama announced a new(er) energy policy. But still no significant action from Congress or Washington.
Where does the U.S. stand with energy? Listen to this week's American Sauce for a highly-efficient look at the major forms of energy we use, how much we have and quick hits of the pros and cons of each. And we also give you a mental map of nuclear energy in America.
Listen here. Or keep reading.
It's not one energy problem, it's (at least) two.
Problem One: Oil. A transportation problem.
-We've covered this one before at American Sauce. But here's the gist.
-The U.S. imports 50-60 percent of the oil it needs now. That is forecast to decrease, then hover around 45% in future decades. (Source: EIA)
-Under current forecasts, the U.S. has just a fraction of the world's proven oil reserves.
-Here's the key: the U.S. primarily uses oil for transportation (cars, trucks, planes).
-Thus, for the U.S., an oil crunch is a transportation crunch.
Problem Two: Electricity. It touches everything.
-The U.S. depends primarily on four sources: coal (45 percent), natural gas (23 percent), nuclear (20 percent) and renewables (10 percent).
-Source for above: The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration.
-Each of those four sources has considerable plusses and minuses. (Listen to them in the podcast, here)
-Quick summary: fossil fuels coal and natural gas are relatively cheap and plentiful. But current technology raises significant concerns and debate about pollution, run-off, emissions and safety. Nuclear power is considered far cleaner when it comes to emissions, but the U.S. has yet to address long term storage of nuclear waste. And renewables, while clean, are not yet able to produce as much power as cheaply as fossil fuels.
What Do You Think? What'd We Miss?
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