21st Century U.S. Energy Sources: A Primer

21st Century U.S. Energy Sources: A Primer. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Michael Ratner. May 19, 2017

Since the start of the 21st century, the U.S. energy system has seen tremendous changes. Technological advances in energy production have driven changes in energy consumption, and the United States has moved from being a growing net importer of most forms of energy to a declining importer—and possibly a net exporter in the near future. The United States remains the second largest consumer of energy in the world, behind China.

[PDF format, 40 pages, 1.17 MB].

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources: In Brief

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources: In Brief. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Molly F. Sherlock. May 18, 2017

The U.S. tax code supports the energy sector by providing a number of targeted tax incentives, or tax incentives only available for the energy industry. As Congress evaluates the tax code and contemplates tax reform, there has been interest in understanding how energy tax benefits are distributed across different domestic energy resources. For example, what percentage of energyrelated tax benefits support fossil fuels (or support renewables)? How much domestic energy is produced using fossil fuels (or produced using renewables)? And how do these figures compare?

In 2016, the value of federal tax-related support for the energy sector was estimated to be $18.2 billion. Of this, $5.2 billion (28.6%) can be attributed to tax incentives supporting fossil fuels. Tax-related support for renewables was an estimated $11.4 billion in 2016 (or 62.6% of total tax-related support for energy). The remaining tax-related support went toward nuclear energy, efficiency measures, and alternative technology vehicles.

[PDF format, 15 pages, 811.42 KB].

Fact Sheet: Clean Energy Job Growth in the United States

Fact Sheet: Clean Energy Job Growth in the United States. World Resources Institute. Helen Mountford, Joel Jaeger. March 2017

The clean energy economy in the United States—including wind, solar, and efficiency industries—is putting more and more Americans to work. This fact sheet outlines the latest data on how many Americans are working in clean energy and where the jobs are located. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 2 pages, 223.21 KB].

Twelve Economic Facts on Energy and Climate Change

Twelve Economic Facts on Energy and Climate Change: A Joint Report from the Hamilton Project and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Brookings Institution. March 27, 2017

The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution. The North American shale boom has unlocked vast quantities of natural gas, upending domestic electricity markets and enabling rapidly growing export volumes. American shale oil has sent global oil prices to their lowest sustained level in a decade and slashed U.S. imports in half. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable fuels like wind and solar electricity has plummeted, and they now account for the majority of new electric generating capacity.

Given this technological and economic context, the United States has perhaps never been better positioned to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. Though it is often discussed as a future problem, climate change caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is happening now. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has increased from 317 parts per million in 1960 to more than 400 parts per million in 2016 (NOAA 2016), while the global average temperature has risen 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9° Celsius) above its 1960 level.

These changes are already impacting our everyday lives. Record-breaking temperatures, melting ice caps and more frequent coastal flooding, prolonged droughts, and damaging storms are just some of the intensifying risks we face as our planet continues to warm (IPCC 2007a). Despite these risks, the prices U.S. consumers pay for fossil fuels rarely reflect their costs, skewing consumption and investment choices away from cleaner fuels and discouraging the kinds of technological advancements that would allow the nation to make more efficient use of its energy resources. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages, 2.19 MB].

Kicking a Crude Habit: Diversifying Away from Oil and Gas in the 21st Century

Kicking a Crude Habit: Diversifying Away from Oil and Gas in the 21st Century. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Working Paper 17-2. Cullen S. Hendrix. February 2017

Since the 1970s, oil and gas production has enriched many countries but also made them dangerously dependent on these resources for export revenue and government finance. As a result, development experts have counseled such countries to diversify their economies and export bases. Virtually all oil- and gas-rich countries are—and have been for decades—rhetorically committed to this goal and have allocated significant resources to infant industry development and infrastructure projects to boost their economies. However, some—such as Nigeria, Qatar, and Russia—have been more successful than others. This working paper examines the fortunes of 40 oil- and gas-dependent economies during the 21st century commodity boom and finds that in spite of oil and gas prices nearly trebling, a sizable majority (75 percent) of these countries saw oil and gas rents decrease as a share of GDP. Yet many oil- and gas-rich economies continue to rely very heavily on these resources for export revenue. Internal economic diversification in the 21st century has been less a matter of correct policy formation and implementation and more a matter of factors that shape the policymaking environment, with the findings suggesting a difficult road to economic diversification for the Gulf Cooperation Council economies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 26 pages, 345.62 KB].

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Lynn J. Cunningham. December 14, 2016

Energy is crucial to the operation of a modern industrial and services economy. Recently, there have been growing concerns about the availability and cost of energy and about environmental impacts of fossil energy use. Those concerns have rekindled interest in energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the development and commercialization of renewable energy technologies.

Many of the existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs have authorizations tracing back to the 1970s. Many of the programs have been reauthorized and redesigned repeatedly to meet changing economic factors. The programs apply broadly to sectors ranging from industry to academia, and from state and local governments to rural communities.

[PDF format, 59 pages, 1.11 MB].

Federal Minerals Leasing Reform and Climate Policy

Federal Minerals Leasing Reform and Climate Policy. Brookings Institution. James Stock and Kenneth Gillingham. December 8, 2016

Through its minerals leasing program, the U.S. government plays a large role in the extraction of oil, natural gas, and coal. This footprint is the largest for coal: 41 percent of U.S. coal is mined under federal leases, and burning this coal accounts for 13 percent of U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Currently, producers and consumers of this coal do not bear the full social costs associated with its use. At the same time, the threat of climate change has led the international community, including the United States, to pledge significant reductions in CO2 emissions. Over the past two decades Democratic and Republican administrations have taken steps to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by reducing use of fossil fuels. Despite growing public attention to the climate consequences of fossil fuel extraction, U.S. climate policy so far has not extended to the government’s role as a major source of fossil fuels. In a new paper from The Hamilton Project and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, Kenneth Gillingham and James Stock propose to incorporate climate considerations into federal coal leasing by placing a royalty adder on federal coal that is linked to the climate damages from its combustion. The magnitude of the royalty adder should be chosen to recognize both the substitution of nonfederal for federal coal, and the interaction of the royalty adder with other climate policies. A royalty adder set to 20 percent of the social cost of carbon would reduce total power sector emissions, raise the price of federal coal to align with coal mined on private land, increase coal mining employment in Appalachia and the Midwest, and provide additional government revenues to help coal communities. This proposal strikes a middle path between calling for a stop to all federal fossil fuel leasing on the one hand, and relying entirely on imperfect downstream regulation on the other. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages, 723.17 KB].