If it feels like everywhere is a lot more crowded than it used to be, it’s because it is. There are now more people living in this country than ever before, consuming more energy than ever before, and the numbers are only increasing. Despite improvements in energy efficiency, EIA projections expect energy consumption to increase 5 percent between 2016 and 2040.
To ensure energy remains as affordable as possible, we must utilize all of our nation’s energy resources, especially our most abundant.
There’s no question that coal is America’s most abundant, domestically produced energy resource. If we continue at the current rate of consumption, 917 million tons of coal per year, our 260 billion tons in reserves will provide homes and businesses with affordable electricity for at least 280 years. That’s more than the energy equivalent of 900 billion barrels of oil, greater than the Middle East’s known oil reserves.
This abundance shows the greatest benefits for society when it keeps energy and electricity prices low. According to the recent study “Energy Cost Impacts on American Families,” 40% of America’s families — 51 million households — live on an average after-tax income of $1,643 per month, or slightly less than $55 per day. These families spend an average of 17 percent of their income on energy. The poorest of these — some 25 million families — spend 22 cents of every dollar they take home on energy.
If we want to continually lift Americans out of poverty and encourage the American dream, we must promote sound energy policy that makes use of our robust mix of energy sources and keeps energy prices low. It only makes sense that the most abundant and most affordable of these sources remains a key component of that conversation.