Facts & Figures - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures

America’s Power Facts and Figures

We think it’s important to show how we derived some of the figures that are used on our website. Below you’ll find explanations – numbers and math included – of how ACCCE calculates key facts found on AmericasPower.org.

Fact: The United States has more energy in the form of coal than the Middle East has oil.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the Middle East has proven oil reserves of roughly 745 billion barrels, and a barrel of oil contains 5.8 million Btu (British thermal units) of energy.
In comparison, as of 2009 the U.S. had recoverable reserves of 261 billion short tons of coal, and a short ton of coal contains almost 20 million Btu of energy.
Simply multiply each fuel source’s reserves by its corresponding Btu value and you have the total energy content of each.
The energy in the U.S. coal reserves amounts to roughly 5.2 quintillion (one followed by 19 zeros) Btu. The energy in the Middle Eastern proven oil reserves amounts to about 4.3 quintillion Btu, which is 17 percent less energy than in U.S. recoverable coal reserves.

Fact: America has more than 200 years’ worth of coal.

The Energy Information Administration estimates the U.S. had recoverable reserves of 261 billion short tons of coal as of January 1, 2009, the latest period for which data are available.
Based on current EIA consumption figures of 1,121.7 million short tons a year, those reserves of 261 billion short tons would last more than 230 years.

Fact: The United States and Canada have an 1,100-year reservoir of carbon dioxide storage.

In its 2008 Carbon Sequestration Atlas, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that together the U.S. and Canada have enough capacity at our current rate of production to store almost 1,100 years’ worth of carbon dioxide. This storage capacity is located deep underground across the continent in varying types of geological formations – including unmineable coal seams and oil and gas reservoirs.
To break it down, the U.S. and Canada are the source of 3.2 billion tons of CO2 each year, but we have storage space for 3.5 trillion tons. Divide that out and we have, in effect, a 1,093-year reservoir of carbon dioxide storage.

Fact: Emissions of traditional pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act, have dropped significantly – even as the use of coal to generate electricity has nearly tripled

Since 1970, emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) have been reduced overall by 56.6 percent, nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 38.7 percent, and particulate matter by 93.1 percent– even as the use of coal to generate electricity to meet growing energy demand nearly tripled. To see the data go to http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/trends.