On Friday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that US energy production in 2016 fell by 4 percent, with fossil fuel production contributing to most of that decline.
The numbers are not terribly surprising.
Global carbon emissions have been stalled for years even as economic activity has increased (although that doesn’t mean we’re not still emitting massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere). We’ve also seen big shifts in the market for fossil fuels—cheap natural gas is beating coal dramatically and renewables like wind and solar are starting to be cheap enough to compete with more traditional energy sources.
And the EIA found recently that energy intensity, which is defined as units of energy per unit of GDP, has fallen by a third in the last 25 years.
That means economic output needs less energy than it did before.
According to the EIA’s numbers, the US produced 84.1 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2016, down 4 percent from 2015.
That’s the first time energy production has been down year-over-year since 2009.
Fossil fuel-related energy production, which includes coal, natural gas, and petroleum, was responsible for most of that, dropping from 7 percent from the previous year.
Even natural gas-related energy production dropped two percent from the previous year, and petroleum dropped 5 percent.
Coal-related energy production dropped a dramatic 18 percent.
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