Energy Myths

Max Schulz offers a series of energy “myths” that are driving flawed public policy – appropriate given a press conference later today will discuss Gov. Rendell’s energy plan.

MYTH » Most of our energy comes from oil.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents believed this to be the case.

FACT» In reality, 60 percent of our energy comes from non-oil sources.

Growing electricity use accounts for more than 85 percent of growth in our energy demand since 1980; this deserves greater focus from policy-makers and media.

MYTH » Saudi Arabia provides more oil to the United States than does any other foreign country.

When asked for the largest source of foreign oil, 55 percent guessed Saudi Arabia.

FACT » Canada provides the United States with more foreign oil than any other country.

An erroneous belief in our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil leads to an illegitimate fear of having energy used as an economic weapon against us.

MYTH » The accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was fatal.

More than 80 percent of respondents did not disagree.

FACT » No one died from the accident at Three Mile Island.

Untenable safety concerns prevent a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that could be achieved by turning to nuclear power as an energy source.

MYTH » Our cities are becoming more polluted and our forests are shrinking.

Nearly 84 percent believe cities are increasingly polluted; 67 percent believe logging and development are shrinking our forests.

FACT » Trends suggest that the air in our cities is becoming cleaner and we are experiencing annual net gains for forest area.

Inaccurate assumptions about our environment encourage onerous regulation and limit urban development.

MYTH » The Kyoto Protocol would require all countries to cut emissions.

Almost 60 percent believe that is, in fact, required by the protocol.

FACT » The Kyoto Protocol has exempted large emitters like China and India; analysts have shown it would be unlikely to reduce global warming.

The cost to the American economy, however, is estimated to be between $13 billion and $397 billion in 2010.

MYTH » The U.S. can meet its future energy demand solely through conservation and efficiency measures.

Nearly 70 percent agreed with this statement.

FACT » We will need 30 percent more energy in 2030 than we consume today — not a demand that can be met through mere conservation.

Our needs will be met by introducing new energy sources — like nuclear power.

The full publication of Energy Myths is available here.