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Energy Myths and Facts
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  1. Energy Myths and Facts “Everything we consume or use—our homes, their contents, our cars and the roads we travel, the clothes we wear, and the food we eat—requires energy to produce and package, to distribute to shops or front doors, to operate, and then to get rid of.” Worldwatch Institute

  2. Fuel is not getting any cheaper.. . . . but confusion abounds as to what, if anything, we can do about the rising cost of energy

  3. Without fossil fuels, the U.S. economy would collapse/unemployment would sky-rocket • We should switch to using more natural gas because it is a “clean” fossil fuel • Renewable energies aren’t economically viable without huge subsidies • Compact fluorescent bulbs are bad because they contain mercury • Wind turbines are basically noisy bird-blenders • Ethanol will ruin your car’s engine

  4. Gulf of Mexico Economics: Industry Annual Revenue (billions) Jobs (estimate) Oil & gas $62.7 107,000 Tourism $38.1 524,000 Commercial Fishing $0.7 14,000

  5. Approximately 50% of the electricity in the U.S. is generated by coal-burning power plants

  6. The Coal Industry • There are approximately 174,000 blue-collar, full-time, permanent jobs related to coal in the U.S. • mining (83,000; about 58% in underground mines, and 43% in surface mining) • transportation (31,000) • power plant employment (60,000) • In the early 1900s, some 500,000+ people were employed by the coal industry • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average earnings of nonsupervisory coal workers is about $55,000 annually

  7. Coal Mining Deaths YEAR U.S. CHINA 1907 3,242 2000 38 5,300 2001 42 5,670 2002 27 5,791 2003 30 7,200 2004 28 6,027 2005 23 5,986 2006 47 4,746 2007 28 3,786 2008 30 3,215 2009 18 2,631 2010 48 600+? Although China mines about 2x as much coal annually as the U.S., the death rate of miners in China is about 37x that in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mining is the second deadliest occupation in the U.S. (those who make a living in agriculture, fishing, and forestry have the highest death rate per 100,000 employees)

  8. The Wind Industry Less than about 2% of the electricity in the U.S. is generated by wind turbines In the U.S., wind industry technician jobs surpassed coal mining jobs in 2008. Wind employment increased by 70% from 50,000 in 2007 to 85,000 in 2009 Median annual salary for wind turbine technicians (high school education + special training) is about $45,000 Since 1975, 44 deaths world-wide have been attributed to wind energy – mostly from accidents during installation of large turbines

  9. Without fossil fuels, the U.S. economy would collapse/unemployment would sky-rocket We should switch to using more natural gas because it is a “clean” fossil fuel Renewable energies aren’t economically viable without huge subsidies Compact fluorescent bulbs are bad because they contain mercury Wind turbines are basically noisy bird-blenders Ethanol will ruin your car’s engine

  10. Natural gas is often described as the cleanest fuel, producing less carbon dioxide per joule delivered than either coal or oil In particular, when compared to the energy-equivalent amount of coal: Pollutant Natural gas Coal Carbon dioxide 117,000 ppm 208,000 ppm Carbon monoxide 40 ppm 208 ppm Nitrogen oxides 92 ppm 457 ppm Sulfur dioxide 1 ppm 2,591 ppm Mercury 0 0.016 Particulates 7 ppm 2,744 ppm However, natural gas itself is a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere

  11. In addition: Cornell scientist Robert Howarth recently completed a study that concludes: Natural gas has a far greater carbon footprint than oil, and could even be more harmful to climate than coal. The Reason? All of the associated activities involved with recovering fossil natural gas: energy for digging the pipeline, laying the pipe, trucking the water, hydraulic fracturing – in addition to methane leakage from all of these activities Howarth’s take-home message is that natural gas is going to accelerate global warming if we use it as a replacement for oil. The hidden climate costs of natural gas: Emissions are measured in g C of CO2 per million joules of energy.

  12. Without fossil fuels, the U.S. economy would collapse/unemployment would sky-rocket We should switch to using more natural gas because it is a “clean” fossil fuel Renewable energies aren’t economically viable without huge subsidies Compact fluorescent bulbs are bad because they contain mercury Wind turbines are basically noisy bird-blenders Ethanol will ruin your car’s engine

  13. The history of coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power shows that no energy sector has been developed without subsidies • The US federal government paid US$74 billion in energy subsidies to support R&D for nuclear power and fossil fuels from 1973 to 2003 • According to Donald Lubick, the U.S. Department of Treasury's former Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, the petroleum industry "probably has larger tax incentives relative to its size than any other industry in the country” • Analysts say the U.S. is more generous to oil companies than most other countries, demanding a smaller share of revenues than others that let private companies drill on public lands and in public waters • In the U.S., the government’s take works out to be about 40% of revenue from oil and gas produced on federal property. By contrast, the worldwide average government take is about 60 - 65%

  14. Rankings of subsidies based on absolute amount of direct subsidies and amounts per megawatt-hour of generation differ widely, reflecting substantial differences in the amount of generation across fuels. Subsidies and Support to Electric Production by Selected Primary Energy Sources FY 2007 Net Subsidies Subsidies Generation (million FY 2007 (dollars (billion kWh) dollars) per MWh) Natural Gas and Petroleum Liquids 919 227 0.25 Coal 1,946 854 0.44 Hydroelectric 258 174 0.67 Biomass 40 36 0.89 Geothermal 15 14 0.92 Nuclear 794 1,267 1.59 Wind 31 724 23.37 Solar 1 174 24.34 Refined Coal 72 2,156 29.81 Energy Information Administration, Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy Markets 2007, SR/CNEAF/2008-1 (Washington, DC, 2008).

  15. Some groups feel that the petroleum industry benefits from not having to pay the full price of environmental damage and human health issues. • What would oil cost if the industry had to pay to protect its shipments, completely clean up its spills, and restore the environment? • In 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons of oil along 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline (this is only the 30th largest oil spill in the world). • Exxon spent more than $3.8 billion in clean up costs, fines and compensation • In the case of Baker v. Exxon, a jury awarded $287 million for actual damages and $5 billion for punitive damages. The punitive damages amount was equal to a single year's profit by Exxon at that time. • After many appeals (over more than 10 years) by Exxon, judgment by the U.S. Supreme Court will limit punitive damages to $507.5 million. • While the appeals were taking place, it is estimated that Exxon earned nearly $800 million a year in interest on the original $5 billion • Exxon recovered a significant portion of clean-up and legal expenses through insurance claims associated with the grounding of the Exxon Valdez

  16. Deepwater Horizon – Spring 2010 • On 20 April 2010, a blowout at a BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico starting releasing something like an Exxon Valdez-worth of oil into the water every four days • By November, BP was reporting profits even with an estimated $40 billion price tag for the response to its blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico • BP said that costs related to the April 20 oil spill dragged down its third-quarter profit by more than 60 percent • The London-based company earned $1.79 billion from July through September, compared with $5.3 billion a year earlier

  17. Without fossil fuels, the U.S. economy would collapse/unemployment would sky-rocket We should switch to using more natural gas because it is a “clean” fossil fuel Renewable energies aren’t economically viable without huge subsidies Compact fluorescent bulbs are bad because they contain mercury Wind turbines are basically noisy bird-blenders Ethanol will ruin your car’s engine

  18. Each CFB contains about 5 milligrams (mg) of mercury • No mercury is released by the bulb when in use or being handled • On the other hand, about 50% of the electricity produced in the U.S. is generated by coal-fired power plants. • mercury is naturally contained in coal, and when coal is burned it releases that mercury into the air • a coal-burning power plant releases about 0.02 mg of mercury into the air for every kWh of electricity used.

  19. Without fossil fuels, the U.S. economy would collapse/unemployment would sky-rocket We should switch to using more natural gas because it is a “clean” fossil fuel Renewable energies aren’t economically viable without huge subsidies Compact fluorescent bulbs are bad because they contain mercury Wind turbines are basically noisy bird-blenders Ethanol will ruin your car’s engine

  20. Impacts of Wind Power:Noise • Modern turbines are relatively quiet • Rule of thumb – stay about 3x hub-height away from houses

  21. For every 10,000 birds killed by human activities, less than one is caused by a wind turbine The impact of wind turbines on wildlife is low compared to other forms of human and industrial activity

  22. Wind Turbines vs. Radar • Large wind turbines have the potential to interfere with both commercial air traffic control and military radar, as well as weather radar • Wind towers, nacelles, and blades all reflect radar energy • Turbines have high reflectivity that can reduce radar sensitivity • Rotation of wind turbine blades causes Doppler reflections • Wind towers have a large “radar cross sectional area” • Some in U.S. military argue that wind farms add unreasonable national security risk

  23. Without fossil fuels, the U.S. economy would collapse/unemployment would sky-rocket We should switch to using more natural gas because it is a “clean” fossil fuel Renewable energies aren’t economically viable without huge subsidies Compact fluorescent bulbs are bad because they contain mercury Wind turbines are basically noisy bird-blenders Ethanol will ruin your car’s engine

  24. Is Ethanol Really Bad for Your Car?

  25. Study of a variety of 16 vehicles (cars and pickup trucks; domestic and imported) • Range in model years from 1999 to 2007 • Various blends of gasoline, ranging from E0 (no ethanol) to E20

  26. Main results of the study: • All 16 vehicles exhibited loss in fuel economy with increasing ethanol • average reduction for E20 was ~7.7% compared to E0 • As ethanol content increased: • no significant change in oxides of nitrogen emission • non-methane hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions decreased • None of the vehicles displayed a malfunction indicator light as a result of the ethanol content of the fuel • No fuel filter plugging symptoms were observed • No degradation of the fuel systems were observed

  27. Several states have offered a cash “reward” to anyone who can demonstrate that ethanol has damaged their car. To date, no one has collected. Ethanol-blended fuels are approved under the warranties of all auto manufacturers marketing vehicles in the U.S. Some even recommend ethanol use for its clean burning benefits.

  28. Is ethanol/biodisel an improvement over fossil fuels? environmentally? financially? Who would benefit most from more use of ethanol/biodiesel? Are there alternatives to using food crops? What questions still need to be answered?