The United States consumed more energy than ever in 2018, but also produced more energy than in any previous year. The United States consumed 4 percent more energy in 2018 than in 2017, and produced 8 percent more energy in 2018 than in the previous twelve months. Both 2018 levels were the highest totals ever recorded, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Also in 2018, U.S. energy exports increased 18% to another record high, reducing net energy imports into the United States to a 54-year low of less than 4% of U.S. energy consumption.
In 2018, crude oil and natural gas accounted for 57% of all U.S. energy production, with crude oil production seeing an increase of 17% and natural gas an increase of 12% from 2017. Energy production from renewable energy increased 4% from 2017, mostly from growth in solar (22%), wind (8%), and biomass energy (2%). Nuclear electric power production remained virtually unchanged in 2018. Coal production decreased in 2018, falling 2% from 2017.
The U.S. jails one out of every 223 people, according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. U.S. state and federal prisons held approximately 1,505,400 prisoners in 2016, the latest year of statistics just released by the Bureau. This represented a slight decline from 2015, the third straight year of decline. Black prisoners saw the largest percentage drop at the end of 2016, capping a decade long decline. During the decade between 2006 and 2016, the rate of imprisonment decreased 29 percent for black adults, 15 percent for white adults and 20 percent for Hispanic adults. While 93% of prisoners were male, there were more than twice as many white females (48,900 prisoners) as black (20,300) or Hispanic (19,300) females in state and federal prison in 2016. Racial disparity was also observed among males. Black males ages 18 to 19 were 11.8 times more likely to be imprisoned than white males of the same age. Slightly more than half of state prisoners were serving sentences for violent offenses at year-end 2015. About 47 percent of federal prisoners had been sentenced for drug offenses as of September 30, 2016.
Texas topped all other states by increasing its population by almost 400,000 between July 2016 and July 2017, while Idaho saw the highest percentage growth in the U.S., according to recent U.S. Census statistics. Texas ranked as the second most populous state in the U.S. in 2017 with a population of 28,304,596. California is the largest state, with a population of 39,536,653. Idaho's increase of 36,917 in 2017 represented a 2.2 increase in the state's population, giving it the highest percentage increase in population. Overall, the U.S. population grew by 2.3 million between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017, representing a 0.72 percent increase to 325.7 million. Furthermore, the population of voting-age residents (adults age 18 and over) grew to 252.1 million (77.4 percent of the 2017 total population), an increase of 0.93 percent from 2016 (249.5 million). Eight states lost population: Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.
2017 ranked as the third hottest year ever recorded in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The average U.S. temperature in 2017 was 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.6 degrees F above average, making 2017 third warmest year since records began in 1895, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. For the third consecutive year, every state across the contiguous U.S. and Alaska had an above-average annual temperature.
In fact, the five warmest years on record for the U.S. all have occurred since 2006. 2017 was also was the 21st consecutive year that the annual average temperature exceeded the average. Five states – Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina – had their warmest year ever recorded.
Job creation last year hit its lowest mark since 2010, notwithstanding the apparently growing economy. According to preliminary statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, businesses added approximately 2,055,000 jobs in 2017, less than in any year since 2010, when the economy added just about 1,061,000 jobs. The following year, 2011, the economy grew by approximately 2,091,000 jobs. The most difficult recent year for job seekers occurred in 2008, when the economy lost approximately 3,567,000 jobs.
Many non-partisan studies find no support for the argument that tax cuts spur economic growth. In 2012, the Congressional Research Service determined that the available data "suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution." The study noted that the "share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession." The Congressional Research Service is a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, and works exclusively for the United States Congress. The Services provides policy and legal analysis to committees and members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. The cited study was withdrawn after partisan protests, but may still be found here on the website of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center.
In May 2017, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business polled 42 economists, and 72 percent agreed that tax reform usually results in a fall in tax revenue as a share of gross domestic product. In a preliminary analysis of the current Administration/Republican leadership tax reform proposal, the Tax Policy Center estimated that the proposed plan will reduce federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over its first ten years. According to the Center, in 2018, the average tax bill for all income groups will decline. However, the Center finds that taxpayers in the bottom 95% will see their after-tax incomes increase between half a percent and just over one percent on average. Individuals in the top 1% percent, generally with incomes above $730,000, wind up with the greatest benefit, as their after-tax incomes are estimated to increase an average of 8.5%.
The oil and gas producing states of Texas and Louisiana lead the United States in energy consumption, according to recent federal statistics. Based on data from 2015, the U.S. Energy Information Agency determined that Texas consumed more energy than any other state, but that Louisiana led the nation in per capita consumption of energy. In 2015, Texas accounted for about 13% of total U.S. energy consumption. Texas has consumed the more energy than any other state in every year since 1960, the earliest year for which EIA has data. California ranked second in energy use in 2015, accounting for about 8% of U.S. total energy use. Louisiana ranked third in total energy use, although it ranked first in per capita consumption. According to the EIA, the high energy consumption rate in Louisiana and most high per capita consumption states is largely attributable to industrial sector energy consumption, led by consumption in the energy-intensive fossil fuel industry. Vermont posted the lowest energy consumption of any state in 2015, although New York ranked last in per capita consumption. Overall, total U.S. energy consumption in 2015 was about 97 quadrillion Btu, a decrease of about 1% from 2014.
Records collected across the globe prove that surface temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere set new highs during 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, providing further evidence of a warming planet. As previously reported on The Plain Facts, global surface temperatures in 2016 were the highest on record, the third straight year of record-setting temperatures. Also, concentrations of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, rose to record high values in 2016. The global annual average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was 402.9 parts per million (ppm), surpassing 400 ppm for the first time in the modern atmospheric measurement record, and surpassing the carbon dioxide concentration in ice core records dating back as far as 800,000 years. This was the largest annual increase observed in 58 years of record keeping.
Sea levels kept increasing in 2016, with the global average sea level rising to a new record high in 2016. This increase was about 3.25 inches higher than the 1993 average, the year that marks the beginning of the satellite altimeter record. This increase also marks the sixth consecutive year that global sea level has increased compared to the previous year. Over the past two decades, the sea level has increased at an average rate of about 0.13 inch per year, with the highest rates of increase in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans.
These findings come from the State of the Climate report just published by the American Meteorological Society. The report is led by editors from NOAA, and combines the findings of nearly 500 scientists from more than 60 countries around the world and reflects tens of thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets.
The earth's dramatic temperature rise actually halted in the first decade of this century, according to statistics verified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The “pause” in global warming observed since 2000 followed a period of rapid acceleration in the late 20th century. Starting in the mid-1970s, global temperatures rose 0.5 °C over a period of 25 years. However, since the turn of the century, and until the last few years, the change in earth’s global mean surface temperature was close to zero. According to NOAA, recent research suggests that the earth’s natural climate variability—natural, short-term fluctuations in the climate system such as El Niño—may have been the largest contributor to the "pause" by transferring excess heat from the earth’s surface into the deep ocean. Notwithstanding the halt in the temperature rise, each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. Globally, each of the last three years have been the hottest years on record, with each subsequent year beating the record mark set the previous year.
Fossil fuels -- petroleum, natural gas, and coal -- accounted for 81% of U.S. energy consumption in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That's actually the lowest percentage in the last 100 years. Renewable energy sources, primarily solar and wind power, added 10.5%, the most significant share for these sources since the 1930s. The decline in consumption of fossil fuels resulted primarily from the decline in coal consumption. U.S. coal consumption fell nearly 9% in 2016, following a 14% drop in 2015. Overall, U.S. coal consumption has declined almost 38% since 2005. Petroleum, which encompasses nearly all transportation fuels and several petroleum-based fuels used in homes, businesses, and industries, continues to be the largest source of energy consumption in the United States. Petroleum consumption has increased in each of the past four years. Consumption of natural gas has risen in 9 of the past 10 years. As recently as 2006, the United States consumed more coal than natural gas (in energy-equivalent terms), but as natural gas consumption has increased—particularly in the electric power sector—natural gas use in 2016 was about twice that of coal.
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