Revolutions: Coal Liquification

Volume 2 Issue 3 - Extra

US energy policies and practices affect the ability of "We the People" to continue driving our diesel vehicles.

Shortly after World War II, the United States started to import oil in order to meet its growing demand for finished petro-chemical products. The rapid escalation of plastics used in packaging, domestic utensils, automobiles and virtually every aspect of American life added to the increasing demand for petroleum. Electric generating plants that run on diesel have been easy to construct as have steam plants supplied by petroleum. This has added to the ever-increasing demand curve for petroleum. Along the way, US domestic production has increased but it could not keep up with the rapid increase in demand. As a result, petroleum imports surged to ever higher levels. Electric generating plants began to shift to burning domestic coal and natural gas, however, the demand for petroleum has not slackened. Nuclear power plants came on line with great promise. Unfortunately, public hysteria cut short the promise of a nation powered by nuclear generated electricity. Modern clean coal fired generating plants began to replace old less efficient power plants with great promise to use the vast quantities of domestic coal reserves in the US. Again, this promising technology would fall to public hysteria: smaller in number than nuclear opponents, they compensated with fanatic hyping of man-made climate change, global warming.


Transportation, The US’s Primary Energy Consumer

Like the production of electricity, the quest to provide fuel for the huge fleet of vehicles in daily use across America has followed a similar path of frustration. America, so different from the smaller European countries, is a vast nation stretching over 3,000 miles coast-to-coast; this does not even consider the distance to Alaska. These great distances require intricate networks of roads to provide transportation for people and especially for goods. The majority of all products in the US are moved by trucks. Certainly trains and ships move large amounts of products to dropping points but then trucks take over. When the American economy is running full steam the consumption of fuel for transportation is incredible, reaching 14.6 million barrels daily. That is 71% of the 20.6 million barrels of total daily consumption. The pie chart on page 60 shows the breakdown of oil used in the US. It is important to note that 24% is consumed by industrial activities. Again, the petro-chemical industries are the principle constituents in this sector. Why emphasize this statistic? To clarify that reducing transportation consumption will not alleviate our need to utilize crude oil; we use oil in large quantities for numerous other products.

The Country of Origin table relates the sources of US daily consumption of 20.6 million barrels of petroleum oil (Energy Information Administration, US Government). Imports are approximately 70% or 14 million barrels daily.

The 10 countries listed supplied 80% of US petroleum imports. Several other countries supply amounts less than one percent to complete the total oil imported. Domestic production of petroleum has slipped to five million barrels per day and will not likely increase; in fact, it may decrease in the future if drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Bakken Oil Reserves in Montana, North and South Dakota, the most promising areas of exploration for domestic oil production, are not properly exploited.

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