America now produces more oil and gas and holds more coal reserves than any nation in the world. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. surpassed Saudi Arabia in 2013 as the largest producer of petroleum hydrocarbons in the world and in 2017 produced 15.6 million barrels per day [1]. Crude oil production accounted for 9.4 million barrels of that total, and is expected to reach 10.7 million barrels per day in 2018 [1], placing the U.S. above Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest producer of crude oil [2]. The U.S. has long been the world’s largest producer of natural gas and now produces nearly 80 billion cubic feet per day of dry gas [1]. The U.S. produced over 728 million short tons of coal per day in 2016, second only to China, and sits atop the world’s largest recoverable coal reserves, more than 254 billion short tons [3].

Source: Energy Information Administration [1]. 2018 and 2019 values are forecasts.

Because the reliable and affordable energy provided by fossil fuels is such an essential part of modern life, policies that increase the price of fossil fuel production or mandate more expensive energy sources are regressive – they disproportionately impact those who have the least. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average American consumer spends 6.1% of their after-tax income to heat their homes and fuel their vehicles, and this value jumps to 10.5% for consumers in the 2nd income quintile and 18.6% for the lowest income quintile [4]. Reliable and affordable energy is also critically important for American manufacturing to remain globally competitive. American industrial consumers paid 6.9 cents per kWh in 2017 [5], compared to 14.0 Euro cents per kWh for E.U. nonresidential consumers [6], which is contributing to the movement of chemical and manufacturing operations from the E.U. to the U.S.

Energy production also has a huge positive impact on the regions that are blessed with abundant resources and promote their extraction. For instance, the Texas oil and gas industry contributed more than $11 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties in 2017 [7] and supported 236,700 direct jobs in the upstream sector alone as of July 2018 [8]. While Texas is not often thought of as a coal state, Texas mining and coal-fired power plants annually contribute over $7 billion in economic activity and nearly 25,000 jobs [9]. Although the use of coal for electricity has declined in recent years, it still accounts for about 30% of electrical generation in the U.S., and coal exports are expected to remain strong [10]. With further technological advances and more appropriate regulations, it can remain a reliable, affordable, and important part of the nation’s energy mix.

Another benefit of America’s growing energy dominance is the geopolitical security it fosters. The U.S. and Canada are the only democratic nations among the major producers of oil and natural gas [11]. The free world is counting on us to be a leading energy producer and slow the flow of money and power to autocratic regimes.

2017 Rank Petroleum Crude Oil Natural Gas Coal
1 United States Russia United States China
2 Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Russia United States
3 Russia United States Iran India
4 Canada China Qatar Australia
5 China Iraq Canada Indonesia

Source: Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics [11]. Note that petroleum includes crude oil, products of petroleum refining, natural gas liquids, biofuels, and liquids derived from other hydrocarbon sources (including coal to liquids and gas to liquids).

Furthermore, the success America has had at developing its energy resources is a testimony to the world of the benefits of private ownership of resources and competitive energy markets. In almost every other country in the world, the state owns the resources and operates a national energy company, but countries such as Mexico are beginning to follow the U.S. by opening up exploration to private companies and privatizing electricity markets. If America continues to lead by fostering free markets and energy entrepreneurship, the world will be more free, secure, and prosperous.

[1] EIA (Energy Information Administration). 11 September 2018. “Short-Term Energy Outlook Data Browser.” Accessed 14 September 2018.

[2] Dunn, Candace and Tim Hess. 12 September 2018. “The United States is now the largest global crude oil producer.” EIA (Energy Information Administration).

[3] EIA (Energy Information Administration). 15 November 2017. “Annual Coal Report 2016.”

[4] BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics). 11 September 2018. “Consumer Expenditure Survey 2017, Expenditures by Income Quintiles.” Accessed 14 September 2018.

[5] EIA (Energy Information Administration). 24 August 2018. “Electric Power Monthly.” Accessed 14 September 2018.

[6] Eurostat. 25 May 2018. “Electricity prices for non-household consumers – bi-annual data (from 2007 onwards).” Accessed 14 September 2018.

[7] TXOGA (Texas Oil and Gas Association). 2017. “Release: Texas Oil and Natural Gas Industry Paid More than $11 Billion in Taxes and Royalties in 2017, Up from 2016.” Accessed 14 September 2018.

[8] Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. 7 September 2018. “Energy Slideshow.” Accessed 14 September 2018.

[9] University of North Texas Center for Economic Development and Research. December 2014. “Coal Mining and Coal‐Fired Power Plant Generation in Texas: Economic and Fiscal Impacts.”

[10] EIA (Energy Information Administration). 11 September 2018. “Short-Term Energy Outlook.” Accessed 14 September 2018.

[11] EIA (Energy Information Administration). “International Energy Statistics Data Browser (Beta).” Accessed 27 September 2018.