Jane Van Ryan
Posted November 29, 2010
Before anyone--including each U.S. lawmaker--engages in a meaningful discussion about energy policy, it's important to understand the facts. Although this might seem to be an obvious point, it's one that shouldn't be overlooked especially during this fall's lame duck congressional session.
To drive this point home, three API representatives held a roundtable briefing with reporters today. Rayola Dougher, API's senior policy advisor (pictured above), opened the discussion with an overview of world and U.S. energy data and explained how energy demand has evolved during the past 150 years.
Rayola used this above slide from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing the government's projection for world energy demand between 2008 and 2035. Note that energy demand is expected to climb by 49 percent, and that oil and natural gas will continue to represent more than half of the energy used in the world in 2035. This slide alone explains why it is critically important to continue developing oil and natural gas in the United States in coming decades.
This slide from ExxonMobil shows how the United States has altered its energy consumption since Col. Drake drilled the first successful oil well in Pennsylvania in 1859. At the time, biofuels (in the form of wood) comprised the largest share of the nation's energy for cooking and heating. The Industrial Revolution and the advent of the automobile brought huge changes to America, including the opportunity for motorized personal mobility, an improved standard of living and the increased consumption of oil and natural gas.
How quickly can America move away from oil to other, more technically advanced forms of energy? Studies have indicated it could take decades. Furthermore, history tells us that government edicts and legislation favoring one form of energy over another don't work very well. They tend to raise costs, reduce the standard of living and distort the marketplace where energy innovations can occur.
In developing energy policy, U.S. lawmakers should help their constituents by planning for a secure energy future that embraces all forms of energy, including oil and natural gas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.