Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Next Steps on Energy

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Next Steps on Energy

Article excerpt

Further reduce reliance on fossil fuels and transition to renewables

The United States in recent years has made impressive strides toward energy independence -- among them, reducing oil imports, increasing production of oil and gas and improving fuel efficiency in cars and trucks.

But much more needs to be done.

As the election season heats up, we urge voters not to fall for candidates' promises of a quick fix to gas prices, but instead to seek out leaders willing to take the next, difficult steps toward a workable energy policy.

Despite the progress made, more challenges lie ahead.

Though oil imports are down significantly since 2008, the United States still imports 45 percent of its liquid fuels, and too much of that from the Middle East and other potential trouble spots.

While domestic production is up 15 percent, the methods of obtaining much of the new oil and gas -- through deep-sea drilling and a controversial process known as fracking -- carry environmental risks that are not fully understood.

New standards promise vastly improved fuel efficiency for cars and trucks, but energy efficiency in the non-transportation sector of the economy -- in buildings, businesses and homes -- has a long way to go.

The use of renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, has doubled since 2008, according to a federal study, but it remains a tiny part of the overall picture.

Dwindling resources

Underlying the nation's energy outlook are the high level of consumption, the overreliance on fossil fuels and the finite nature of those resources.

The simple fact, established by the Department of Energy, is that the United States -- on land or offshore -- has only 2 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. Yet, we consume 25 percent of the world's supply.

As for natural gas, recent estimates cite a 75-year supply in the United States at current consumption levels, but even that is finite. Also, while natural gas fuels power plants and heats homes and businesses, the U. …

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