February 2003

Promoting energy efficiency

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NRCA is proposing an ambitious new energy plan

by Craig Silvertooth
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Less than two years ago, U.S. automobile drivers were facing gasoline prices that topped $2.25 per gallon, and much of the country was confronting either energy shortages or potential blackouts. Although the banner headlines about an energy crisis may have disappeared, the underlying problems confronting the United States and its economy remain. To help mitigate volatile energy prices in the future, NRCA has proposed an ambitious energy-efficiency program that will go far in advancing a balanced energy policy that promotes conservation, decreases U.S. reliance on overseas petroleum sources and protects the environment.

The energy predicament

The United States has made tremendous strides in energy efficiency since the Arab oil embargoes of the 1970s, but despite such advances, the statistics paint a bleak portrait of the United States' energy future. Consider the following: Domestic production of crude oil has declined from 9.6 million barrels per day to 5.8 million barrels per day since 1970; the number of operable U.S. refineries declined from a high of 315 in 1981 to 155 in 2000; and there has not been a new major oil refinery built in the United States in more than 25 years.

At the same time, petroleum consumption has grown and is projected to continue growing at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Energy Information Administration (EIA). According to EIA, net petroleum imports are projected to increase to 62 percent of U.S. demand by 2020. EIA also estimates that during the next 20 years, U.S. oil demand will increase 33 percent; demand for natural gas will grow 62 percent; and electricity demand...

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