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US Energy Independence No Longer A Pipe Dream

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by zenMachine, May 16, 2012.

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  1. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    Makes complete financial sense for US as a whole, just not for individuals. So the answer is for the US as a whole to make it worthwhile and do both nation and citizens a lot of good.

    US oil imports ($500B per year) and US military spending ($500B for the oil wars portion) are costing US $1T a year, $15T in oil trade deficit taxes and $14T in US oil war debt over last 30 years.

    Take that $1T per year we waste on oil imports and oil wars, apply it to each US home providing solar hot water and solar electric panels, it would cut US energy us by 20-30% for the one year's cost of trade deficit and oil wars.

    That's a one year payback nationally vs. a 20 year pay back individually.
  2. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    World coal production (metric tons)
    China 3,162
    US 932
  3. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    That is interesting, does not bode well for CO2.
    However, from what I can see, USA has 3x the coal reserves of China. If true this invalidates your original argument.
  4. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    IIRC the US has 22% of researves China 11%. China is mining theirs much faster than the US. They also along with Japan are big coal importers.
  5. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    China will have to work quite a while to equal climate damage US has done over the years. Consider that China's PER CAPITA energy use and CO2 emissions are 25% that of US.



    No. The fact is US recoverable coal reserves have been marked down by 60% by US Academy of Sciences. Add to that the fact that "recoverable" is a potential that requires destruction of much of the US water supply, massive air pollution and increase in CO2 emissions when US needs to be cutting CO2 emissions.

    The trend of marking down the US reserves based on better science, usage patterns and technology facts has been fairly constant over last 40 years with the recent reduction part of that trend. We've gone from 250 years to 100 years to 60 years "recoverable" coal over the last 30 years.

    The facts are US needs to increase its energy efficiency to world standards of Europe/Japan, 50% better than US currently does. Focusing on cutting oil use (oil trade deficit, oil war costs) first and building non-fossil energy sources. Putting solar water heaters and solar panels on every home using the $1T a year wasted by oil use cuts US energy use 20-30%.
  6. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    US, like Japan and China is big energy importer. Oil with its added military and national security costs is US's biggest problem stemming from US energy inefficiency, just 50% that of Europe and Japan.
  7. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    We were talking about coal reserves, you mistakenly, as you often do, thought it was only coal production.

    The US does indeed have much higher coal reserves than china, and exports coal. China and Japan are the biggest coal importers. China is going through their smaller coal resources much faster than the US. That is fairly clear from the facts.

    Depending on what you are talking about some things in the us are much more efficient than europe, like food distribution, and some things less. In the last 40 years america's efficiency per capita has increased faster than europes. Spouting that meaningless 50% number without context has gotten grating. Please stop, or at least say what you think is more efficient.
  8. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    Side note: a 4.3M earthquake has just hit East Texas, the second quake in as many weeks. Some say hydraulic fracturing could be partly to blame. We'll see.
  9. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    I was simply responding to Mojo's comment that he was all for solar if "it made financial sense"

    Icarus
  10. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    When we talk about reserves, we need to be clear about the type of reserves. For example, the U.S. contains vast amounts of Rare Earth ores, but most of it is unrecoverable due to being diffused over vast areas.

    With coal there is a huge difference between total reserves and recoverable reserves. The recoverable figure is subject to interpretation, depending on how much damage we are willing to suffer to get at the coal.

    On the one hand we have environmental groups unwilling to sustain any environmental damage, on the other energy hawks willing to strip mine everything east of the Mississippi. A useful and workable number lies somewhere in between.

    Tom
  11. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    I am not aware that fracking causes this ever.
    Disposal of the waste water (from fracking) has been implicated.
  12. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    I consider disposal of waste water from fracking part of the fracking process, and in common use the term "fracking" comprises the entire process.

    Tom
    1 person likes this.
  13. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    Yup. That's why I wrote "partly to blame".
  14. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    Fracking-Linked Earthquakes Spurring State Regulations - Bloomberg



    Seems like common sense, but the government probably needs to actually write a law to enforce the common sense. Anderson is the local edf guy here, and can probably help get regulation through in Texas, but these laws are state by state.

    There is risk of oil fracking causing seismic activity in California on fault lines, which just seems crazy without strong regulation.
  15. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    As far as petroleum based energy independence?

    I think you can tweak stats and projections to make optimistic claims.
    I think you can tweak stats and projections to make pessimistic claims.

    What you cannot "tweak", is the reality that gas and oil are finite resources. To believe energy independence based on those resources can be maintained infinitely, not only by the US but by the world? Is a very large pipe dream.
  16. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    As keynes wrote, "in the long run, we are all dead". Since the resources are limited, by definition at some point we will be oil independant, since no one will be able to sell it to us.

    In the mean time Americans can cut back to the oil available in North America. That seems prudent now doesn't it? As it gets more scarce, economics would dictate that we substitute other things for oil. We might as well start now.

    In 100 years, I don't see a mad max world. Its likely we can power vehicles on a combination of renewable electricity and biofuels.
  17. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    +1


    Oh, sorry, I agree with that sentiment. I would amend that to be long run financial sense:D It does now for a small percentage of the nations power. We can easily afford that investment. In many places it even makes sense in the short run. In the future as prices continue to drop, it will be able to make financial sense for a larger percentage of power. Wind, geothermal, biomass, and biogass also make sense for renewable electricity and heat.



    No matter what number you look at the US has more coal than china. That doesn't mean we should burn or export it any time soon or ever. I would prefer it if the US was already past peak coal production because we decided to use less for environmental reasons. The researves will still be there if we need them. In the future cleaner coal tech like we, the chinese, and germans are experimenting with IGCC with CCS may allow us to extract it and burn it in an environmentally more sensitive way.
  18. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    True, but the Chinese may be willing to do more environmental damage to extract and burn their coal. That also skews the numbers.

    Tom
  19. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    I'm not sure what the point is. If you have $2000 and Chung has $1000 if Chung spends $50/year and you spend $15, it doesn't mean Chung has more money.

    All I am saying is the US has more coal than China based on estimates. That does not mean the US will mine it or burn it as fast. In fact if there is increased North American mining of coal, it will likely be shipped and sold to Asia.

    Coal export terminals and China: Should the U.S. ship its dirty coal to China? - Slate Magazine

    I don't really want to try to be the saudi arabia of coal, only reserves. I definitely don't want to act like the saudis and have the money go to the weathy few who use some of it to support terrorism and human rights abuses.
  20. ProximalSuns

    ProximalSuns Senior Member

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    US has been and will forever be oil import dependent and by a significant amount (4B barrels a year) and at significant cost ($500B oil trade deficit, $500B military cost) until it reduces its oil usage.

    US can be energy independent but it has nothing to do with oil, gas or coal companies production and everything to do with US upgrading its infrastructure and transport systems to world standards which are 50% more energy efficient that US. That makes US energy independent. Add to that push for wind, solar, waste generated power and US can end energy imports and meet Kyoto emissions goals by 2050.
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