he past half-century witnessed radical shifts in America's
energy profile. Fifty years ago, the nation was nearly self-sufficient
in petroleum and was a net exporter of natural gas. Only 17 percent
of our coal was used to produce electricity. Nuclear electricity
was just a gleam in physicists' eyes. Now, on the eve of the
new century, America imports more than half of its petroleum
and 15 percent of its natural gas. Ninety percent of our coal
is consumed to create electricity, and nuclear electricity accounts
for about a fifth of our electricity supply.
are a few of the changes chronicled in the Annual Energy Review
1998, a statistical history of US energy since 1949 that
was released in July by the Energy Information Administration
(EIA). Other salient trends and milestones in the report include:
- The number of Americans grew by 82 percent
from 1949 through 1998, but energy consumption expanded by 194
percent. As energy became increasingly accessible, the average
amount used per person rose 62 percent over the period. At the
same time, the amount of energy required to produce a dollar's
worth of goods and services fell by 42 percent.
- Throughout the period, the industrial sector
was the largest energy consuming sector of the economy; however,
its share of the total has fallen. In 1949, the sector shares
were: 46 percent industrial; 29 percent residential and commercial;
and 25 percent transportation. In 1998, the shares were: 38 percent
industrial; 36 percent residential and commercial; and 27 percent
- Coal use dominated the industrial sector
in the early years but gave way to natural gas and petroleum,
which became the leading resources in the sector. Electricity
(and the generation, transmission, and distribution losses associated
with its production) grew rapidly as a source of energy in the
- Coal was also the leading fuel consumed in
the residential and commercial sector at the beginning of the
period, but its usage rapidly fell to only incidental levels.
Natural gas became a major resource and electricity's usage soared.
- Petroleum's domination of the transportation
sector rose from 77 percent of all resources used in the sector
in 1949 to 97 percent in 1998.
- The US petroleum industry evolved from one
of near self-sufficiency to heavy dependence on imports. US oil
production peaked at 11 million barrels per day in 1970. In 1998,
the nation produced 8 million barrels of oil per day, while it
consumed 19 million barrels per day and Imported 10 million barrels
- Natural gas supply and demand were in relative
balance in the United States until the mid-1980s, when a production-consumption
gap developed. In 1998, US production was 19 trillion cubic feet;
consumption was 21 trillion cubic feet; and imports were 3 trillion
cubic feet. While the number of wells producing natural gas in
the United States grew 263 percent over the 50 years, the average
output per well fell by 55 percent.
- In 1949, the United States exported 7 percent
of its coal production; in 1998, the Nation still exported 7
percent of its coal production. The industry shifted from 75
percent underground mines and 25 percent surface mines in 1949
to 39 percent underground and 61 percent surface in 1998. In
1949, only 8 percent of US coal was produced west of the Mississippi;
by 1998, 49 percent came from the West. Productivity rose from
0.7 short ton per miner hour in 1949 to 6.0 short tons per miner
hour in 1998.
- Nuclear electric power did not exist in this
country until 1957. The new industry expanded rapidly and, by
1995, reached a peak share of 22 percent of utilities' generation.
The number of operable nuclear units peaked at 112 in 1990. As
fewer new units came on line and old units began to shut down,
the number of operable units fell to 104 in 1998.
1998 edition of the "Annual Energy Review" includes
an updated and expanded introductory essay that puts US energy
use in historical perspective, as well as a glossary of energy-related
terms. It is available electronically at: www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/
on EIA's Internet Web Site. Printed copes of the report are available
from the US Government Printing Office, (202) 512-1800, or through
EIA's National Energy Information Center, (202) 586-8800.
1998 missions of CO2 from fossil fuels up slightly
dioxide emissions rose at their lowest level in 1998 since 1991.
Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels rose by 0.4 percent
in 1998, said the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The
small emissions increase occurred, despite economic growth of
3.9 percent in 1998. EIA said the increase of energy consumption
during the hotter-than-normal summer were "more than offset
by a much warmer-than-normal winter, which reduced consumption
of heating fuels," in its preliminary estimate of greenhouse
gas emissions. Fossil energy consumption emissions amounted to
1,484 million metric tons in 1998, which was a slight increase
over the 1,479 million metric tons in 1997. Fossil emissions
in 1998 accounted for 635 million metric tons from petroleum,
540 million metric tons from coal, and 309 million metric tons
came from natural gas. One sector that saw an increase in emissions
was the electric utilities, whose emissions rose by 3.2 percent
in 1998 from 1997. EIA said, the warm weather "created a
higher demand for residential electricity thus contributing to
emissions growth." EIA's preliminary estimate is available