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Abstract

Energy is an important part of the economic strength of the United States, which has been and continues to be the largest consumer of energy in the world. Oil and gas replaced coal as the main energy sources in the 1940s. At present, about two-thirds of the energy consumed is provided by oil and natural gas (Fig. 1). To be specific, oil supplies about 43 percent of the United States’ primary energy; about 97 percent is used for transportation. Gas accounts for about one-quarter of the energy use in the country and is most commonly used for heating and domestic purposes.

Domestic oil and gas production has been declining since the early 1970s; the trend for oil production is shown in Figure 2. The United States now consumes much more oil than it produces, as much as 50 percent of which is imported. Gas consumption has fallen because of the switch from natural gas to coal in the generation of electric power in the late 1970s. About 7 percent of the natural gas used in the United States is imported, mainly from Canada.

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