Such is the power of politics, driven by concerns about global warming, that according to the US-based online journal Grist, the tide has turned against coal and it is now officially “the enemy of the human race” with the states of California, Kansas, Florida and Washington denying permits or contracts for new coal-fired power stations.
It is also increasingly difficult for companies to undertake petroleum exploration in the US with production from existing fields not being replaced because potential new fields are off limits including off the coast of southern California, in Alaska and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
US policy is, however, supporting an ethanol industry with the target of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels likely to result in the construction of about 300 new ethanol plants, about 75 new corn ethanol facilities and more than 210 for conversion of cellulosic materials.
While this might all sound impressive and perhaps like the demise of fossil fuels, it is not really because renewables represent such a tiny part of energy production in the US. Indeed according to the latest forecast from the Energy Information Administration, traditional fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) will still meet 83 percent of total US primary energy supply requirements in 2030, down only slightly from 85 percent in 2006. Furthermore, US demand for petroleum, the main source for transportation fuels, is forecast to rise 0.8 percent a year, from 21 million barrels per day in 2008 to 25 million in 2030.
So the US will remain dependent on the Middle East including Iraq for its energy? And the US and Iraqi governments are trying to dramatically boost oil production with the World Socialist Website reporting that there are plans to increase oil production from 2.5 million barrels per day to at least three million by the end of 2008, and to six million within a decade.