Despite the nation's preoccupation with oil, the colorful, turbulent history of coal and the controversy surrounding nuclear energy, neither oil, coal or nuclear is now the dominant U.S. energy source—since the mid-1970's the largest domestic energy source has been natural gas.

In the past year, the nation consumed nearly 80 quads (quadrillion or 1015 BTUs) of energy with domestically produced natural gas providing approximately 19 quads (19 Tcf). In comparison, domestic oil production was 18 quads (3 billion barrels), coal production was 14 quads (600 million tons) and nuclear energy in the form of electricity was 3 quads (250 million kilowatt-hours).

Natural gas is an economically preferable substitute for oil and an environmentally more acceptable source than coal or nuclear for many uses, such as industrial heating. Further, increased domestic supplies of natural gas could reduce imports, lessen the U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources, and help the balance of payments.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.