Oil may not be favorite fuel, but it’s still what gets us around

As expected, the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has inspired a debate about where the United States should get its petroleum and how much petroleum the country is using.

Click above to enlarge.

A smart article in the New York Times’ Week in Review section on Sunday laid out the conundrum facing the country — many people don’t like domestic drilling for oil, yet the nation’s appetite for oil has increased. Excerpt:

Much has changed since [the Santa Barbara oil spill in] 1969. The nation’s demand for oil has surged, rising more than 35 percent over the past four decades, while domestic production has declined by a third. Oil imports have doubled, and the United States now buys more than 12 million barrels of oil a day from other countries, about two-thirds of its needs.

I found a trio charts on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website that graphically show the issue when it comes to transportation. As the above chart shows, the transportation industry relies almost wholly on petroleum for its energy and petroleum use, until recently, has been climbing. Sixty-four percent of all petroleum used went for motor gasoline, according to the EIA.

The charts at right and at bottom show how big a role petroleum plays in the United States’ overall energy picture.

What to do about it? Here’s a link to a recent post about how mass transit produces far less greenhouse gas emissions than cars carrying a single occupant. Greenhouse gases are a byproduct of burning fossil fuels such as gasoline and while mass transit relies on some fossil fuels — natural gas to power buses, coal burned to produce electricity for rail, to name two examples — the evidence suggests that transit uses those fossil fuels a lot more efficiently.

Categories: Policy & Funding

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