A new report from the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) debunks ten common myths about energy in America. PRI is a free market think tank based in San Francisco. According to Thomas Tanton, senior fellow in Energy Studies at PRI, this report challenges conventional discourse about energy propagated by politicians, celebrities, and the media. Using data from the US Department of Energy and the Energy Information Administration, the report outlines the types of fuel most used in the US — where they come from, the risks involved, and the potential for alternative technologies. The point of the report, according to PRI is to put accurate information into the public domain that might inform those who will be involved in marking up the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act in the US Senate. The press release says this is a critical time for people to understand the facts behind America’s energy sources, uses, and risks. “Energy policy must be based on facts, not myths,” Tanton said. “If based on myths, energy policy could easily curtail our energy supply, drive up prices, and even increase pollution, all without an increase in energy security. “Contrary to common belief, new technology has greatly reduced the environmental risk of oil extraction, and renewable energies such as solar and wind will not increase our energy security,” Tanton said. “There is a plethora of unexplored options for securing energy in America through domestic sources, but misled confidence in renewable technologies and increased efficiency are hampering common-sense energy policy.” In short, if the country’s goal is to lower prices, trim emissions, and sustain access to energy, then policy makers, the media, and the public should reject energy myths and stick to the path of facts and reality. Since I agree, I thought I would share PRI’s comments with E&P readers. The list of top ten myths in the report is: Myth: Most of our energy comes from oil. Reality: Oil represents less than 40% of our energy use. Myth: Most of our oil comes from the Middle East. Reality: Two-thirds of our oil comes from North America. Myth: We have no choice but to import vast quantities of oil and natural gas. Reality: The US could significantly reduce imports by expanding domestic production. Myth: Offshore oil production poses environmental risks. Reality: New technology has greatly reduced the risk of oil spills. Reducing oil reservoir pressure through extraction of petroleum will decrease the amount of oil pollution from natural seepage. Myth: Reducing our petroleum use through alternative energies will increase US energy security. Reality: Reducing petroleum use will first reduce domestic production, not production in unstable regions. Renewable technologies are subject to import and price security concerns as well. Myth: Energy companies will not invest in clean reliable energy so we need government programs to do so. Reality: Energy companies are investing huge sums of money to develop cleaner and more reliable sources of energy. Myth: Renewable energies will soon replace most conventional energy sources. Reality: While growing fast in percentage terms, renewable energies are a very small fraction of our energy mix and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Myth: The US consumes large amounts of energy and thus emits a disproportionate amount of the world’s greenhouse gases. Reality: The US uses energy and emits a large portion of the world’s emissions because it produces a large portion of the world’s goods and services. Myth: Federal mandates for higher-mileage cars means less energy consumption. Reality: Increased energy efficiency leads to increased energy use. Myth: Forcing drivers to use alternative fuels will help solve global warming. Reality: Alternative fuels do not necessarily result in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
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