The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

A Clean, Green Non Sequitur

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted April 8, 2011

"These are not your father's windmills," President Obama said this week during a visit to the Gamesa wind turbine plant outside Philadelphia. "This is the future of American energy." (italics added)

That's a strong statement coming from the President of the United States, and it has some critics shaking their heads over the administration's energy policy. As the president has stated, his goal is to reduce oil imports by a third by 2025 and produce 80 percent of America's electricity from alternative and renewable sources by 2035.

Are his objectives realistic? In an Op-Ed published in the Houston Chronicle, Robert L. Bradley Jr. of the Institute for Energy Research says the administration's proposals are not based on "an objective analysis of the facts."

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Image Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

The chart above comes from the U.S. government's own U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is responsible for examining and reporting U.S. energy statistics. As the chart shows, renewables accounted for about 7.7 percent of America's total energy consumption in 2009, and wind power accounted for only 0.7 quadrillion BTUs of the total estimated 90 quadrillion BTUs consumed in the United States that year.

Also, the amount of energy provided by wind and other renewables for transportation is quite small. EIA analysis shows that oil provides 94 percent of U.S. transportation fuels. With an estimated 250 million vehicles in the United States, EIA also forecasts that oil will continue to provide at least a third of U.S. energy supplies by 2035. The majority of cars on the road today will never run on anything but oil products; they won't plug in to use electricity of any sort--wind, coal, solar or nuclear.

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The president also said on Wednesday that "energy should not be a polarizing issue," pitting a "pointy-headed environmentalist type" against the "tough guy" who favors more oil drilling. API agrees that energy policy should be nonpartisan and based on the facts, but the president himself has turned energy policy into a divisive topic of conversation. His administration has a clear record of actions, including an offshore moratorium and permitorium, that have reduced U.S. oil and natural gas development.

The last time we checked, there were some 9.2 million Americans whose jobs were supported by U.S. oil and natural gas industry, including me. If that makes me a tough guy who supports drilling for America's own energy resources, so be it. I'm honored to wear the label.

Information about other tough guys in the industry can be found here.

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.