US Energy Production and Consumption

Daniel Cohn
January 29, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2017


Fig. 1: U.S. energy consumption in Quadrillion Btu by resource in August 2017 . [2] (Courtesy of the EIA)

After President Donald Trump's decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement on June 1st, 2017, an agreement of 195 nations (including the US), developed in order to avoid a 2 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures, he pronounced that he was elected by "the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris", a statement centered on his campaign promise to revive the dying coal industry. [1] However, a closer look is needed to determine what is actually leading to the decline of coal energy production and how the United States' energy landscape has changed over the past decade. When examining the data from the November 2017 Month Energy Review, since the mid 2000s, coal consumption has declined steady being surpassed by increasing natural gas consumption. [2]

Natural Gas

For the specific month of August 2017, using the data provided in Fig. 1 in Quadrillion BTUs, Petroleum consumption totaled 3.148 , followed by natural gas at 2.153 and coal at 1.371. [2] This equates to 38.1%, 26.0%, and 16.6%,respectively, of the total 8.265 consumption for August 2017. This growth in production is attributed technological advancements in horizontal drilling and high volume hydraulic fracking. [3] These improvements resulted in a surplus of shale gas in 2009 resulting in a decrease in natural gas prices. [4] Competitive pricing, cost efficiency, and reduced emissions, have resulted in natural gas municipals small-duty fleets such as buses and garbage trucks. [4]


During August 2017, U.S. Energy consumption slightly outpaced energy production. However, the significant downward trend of U.S. Energy Net Imports since its peak in 2005 coupled with an increase in U.S. Exports of Petroleum and Natural Gas shows a positive movement towards energy independence and possible increased exportation driven by cost-efficiency. [2]

© Daniel Cohn. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] M. D. Shear, "Trump Will Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement," New York Times, 1 Jun 17.

[2] "Monthly Energy Review - November 2017," U.S. Energy Information Administration, DOE/EIA-0035(2017/11), November 29017.

[3] M.D. Boyle et al., "A Pilot Study to Assess Residential Noise Exposure Near Natural Gas Compressor Stations," PLoS One 12, e0174310 (2017).

[4] H. Xian et al., "Diesel or Compressed Natural Gas? A Real Options Evaluation of the U.S. Natural Gas Boom on Fuel Choice For Trucking Fleets," Energy 90, 1342 (2015).