A Chart to Ponder

Liquefied Natural Gas edition.

Via the US Energy Information Agency:

I am no expert on fossil fuels or energy as a general matter. However, the data continue to show that, contrary to narratives from the Trump campaign and its supporters, the US is not cutting back. Indeed, the data continues to show the opposite of cutting back.

But, you know, why let facts get in the way of a narrative?

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, US Politics,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. gVOR10 says:

    Said increase in LNG exports, and resulting burning, being a short term win (Ukraine, the economy, the election) and a long term disaster (AGW). Life is complicated.

  2. Kathy says:

    Now let’s try to guess which country is the top oil producer.

    I’ll give a hint: it begins with United and ends with America.

  3. @gVOR10: Indeed. The whole thing is complicated, and you are not wrong about the long-term problem.

    @Kathy: That’s a toughie…

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    US oil and gas production doesn’t exacerbate AGW, the oil and gas was going to be burned anyway, the only question was who banks the cash, Russia, the KSA, or the US. The climate effect is not about the producer, it’s about the consumer. Subtract US production and you get higher energy prices, which leads to desperation in third world countries, and more coal being burned.

    We can lessen the effect of AGW with conservation efforts, and with green energy, but having denied ourselves nuclear power, and with India and Southeast Asia climbing the development ladder and grabbing whatever cheap energy they can find, we need engineering solutions, too. This is an ‘all of the above’ situation.

  5. Andy says:

    Sure, but it’s also a fact that Biden campaigned on “no more drilling” and once he got into office, put in a moratorium on leases on federal lands as part of that promise. The administration was sued over that, lost in court, and forced to lift that moratorium.

    So yes, the current facts are what they are and are the products of other facts.

    What does the chart actually signify? Does this mean Biden and the Democratic party have changed their position and are now looking for more LNG and other fossil fuel production and export? I don’t think so.

  6. Jack says:

    “I am no expert on fossil fuels or energy as a general matter.”

    I’ll say…. M Reynolds came a lot closer.

    The issue is not US exports, destined to continue to climb. And no doubt in sympathy to Russian / Ukraine war considerations.

    What Biden is doing is throttling capacity reviews of new capacity in the US. Now this may surprise you, but if increasing amounts of US LNG is going offshore, and one does not increase US capacity, US prices will rise, and US consumers will suffer. Is Biden President of Europe, or the US?

    Reynolds honed in on the real issue. Its global consumption. Let’s switch the analysis to coal. It doesn’t do a damn bit of good to throw US miners out of work – as is popular in Democrat circles – when China and India are building coal plants willy-nilly, and will, heh, imagine this, fuel them with coal. US de-industrialization in pursuit of the AGW white whale has been disastrous……for US citizens. I would say cruel. But why get in the way of a good save the planet narrative – after all, it probably doesn’t affect polysci professors…..

    Is this ignorance on your part, or tendencies towards propaganda?

  7. just nutha says:

    Just in passing, I’ll stop to note that the fact of already extracted oil and gas being destined to be consumed does not make it devoid of environmental impact. To say “it doesn’t exacerbate AGW” is simply stupid.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You may recall in 1990-91, H.W. Bush sent US troops to Iraq to take their oil, because the US had run out and didn’t want to pay for the imported stuff.

    Seriously, this is what people all over were saying*. This was just short of the widespread internet era, but I got plenty in dial-up BBS message boards in WWIV-Net and FidoNet.

    The boring truth is the US has always been among the top oil producers, and hasn’t run out. Production has increased due to newer techniques that allow recovery from what was once seen as inaccessible reserves (not just fracking, though that’s a large part).

    * Later when NATO began military operations in the Balkans, the claim was Clinton wanted to steal all of Serbia’s coal, again because the US had run out. Funny thing, the US has HUGE reserves of coal. In energy terms, they are larger than Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.

  9. Kurtz says:


    Do you have a cite? Because the only thing I see is they halted issuing permits to new export terminals. Moreover, it’s pending
    DOE review, not a permanent ban.

    Regardless, it has nothing to do with domestic capacity.

    What Biden is doing is throttling capacity reviews of new capacity in the US. Now this may surprise you, but if increasing amounts of US LNG is going offshore, and one does not increase US capacity, US prices will rise, and US consumers will suffer. Is Biden President of Europe, or the US?

    What was that you said about propaganda?

  10. steve says:

    There is easily obtainable data on this if you want to see the actual numbers. See link. As noted by Kathy we are the top oil producer. As not noted, we are producing more oil than any country has ever produced. KSA doesnt even have the capacity to match us now. So it is clear that under this admin oil production is booming. How much credit do they get? I think you could say that they have not tried to hinder production since the Ukraine War started and have actually encouraged production. However, production is largely driven by the oil companies.

    You can talk Drill, drill, drill all you want but oil companies will produce based upon their own profit expectations. They are in a bit fo a squeeze as there is short term need to supply Europe but longer term oil needs will decrease. Renewables are now competitive with fossil fuels, wind is cheaper, and once the grid is built out will dominate the market. Also, note that the Biden admin has been supportive of small nuclear reactor projects. Those have a lot fo potential especially for areas with high electricity needs that are very localized, like data centers.

    Coal miner jobs are going away because the coal now produced in the US is mined more cheaply out west via strip and pit mining which needs a lot less labor. China is building coal plants but it’s building even more wind and solar. Their growth is so rapid that they need some way to solve the intermittency issue. Oil and gas come from Russia. China has plenty of coal reserves so they dont really need US coal. Note that coal mining jobs decreased by 24% during the Trump presidency which supposedly supported coal mining jobs.


  11. MarkedMan says:


    It doesn’t do a damn bit of good to throw US miners out of work – as is popular in Democrat circles

    Wait, do you think US government policy is what threw coal miners out of work? Changes in mining technology reduced the need of miners to a fraction of their previous numbers long before there was any reduction in output.

    fter peaking in 1950 at some 350,000 jobs (see Figure 2), coal jobs declined to a level of about 125,000 by 1970 largely due to increased mechanization of the industry – replacing pick and shovel operations with continuous mining and longwall technologies.

  12. MarkedMan says:


    Is this ignorance on your part, or tendencies towards propaganda?

    The problem with sarcasm and personal attacks like this is that when you are wrong on the facts, which you are, it makes you look like a chump, and a nasty one at that.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    People who get their talking points from the right wing bullsh*t machine excepted, this chart may be of interest. In 2024, if you need to build a new plant in the US, the cheapest source of electricity ($/kwh) is gas, followed closely by utility scale solar, then wind, then various other types of solar. Coal comes in at 5 times the cost of gas, and 4 times the cost of utility scale solar. So – in the US there aren’t going to be any new coal plants no matter what. And when you look at levelized costs (the cost per kwh over the lifetime of the plant) which is really what matters for new plants, Onshore wind is cheapest, then solar, then a slight increase to gas. Coal costs more than twice as much as onshore wind and more than 50% more than gas.

    It’s worth noting that wind and solar were the most expensive even ten years ago while gas, oil and coal technology is comparatively stable, with gas seeing an significant decrease in price with the development of fracking, but no radical improvements in its power generation technology. If an investor wants to look for the next big thing, wind and solar are the ones to chase.

    Given that you don’t need a license to post on the internet, it’s not surprising that a partisan hack can find anything they want to make them feel good about their ignorance of facts.

  14. Lounsbury says:

    @MarkedMan: Lazard is the place to look for LCoE, see the 2023 LCoE report.

    At this time it is not primary plan that is the key issue – it is grid, connexion of plants to grid and then the grid itself for both Distribution (retail) and Transmission (long-distance re-distribution)

    LCoE advantage is undercut unless grid is rapidly expanded and upgraded to enable power distribution to significantly mitigate real issues of intermittancy as well as frequency service that are genuine issues in RE – with grid expansion and upgrade RE will crush hydrocarbons although there is s

    Without grid upgrade and expansion (and connexion enablement that goes along with this), RE runs into capacity integration wall and handicapping hydrocarbons will cause price spikes and nasty backlash against RE.

    Rather than spending political capital restricting hydrocarbons, it is much better to spend it on permitting acceleration and smooting and on $$ for grid upgrade and expansion. This is the binding constraint – and phsyically not something that’s going to occur without scale reforms – urgent ones. I would desperately want to see far less anti-hydrocarbons effort spent and much more grid enablement spent, everywhere not just USA as if I have one fear re RE now, is that the boring Grid is being terribly neglected and will become the factor that trips up otherwise excellent RE potential.

  15. Kurtz says:



    Way out of my knowledge base. No idea what to make of anything technical. So thank you.

  16. @Jack: What is empirically false about the chart?

    I would further ask: who it is that seems most interested in narratives?

  17. Matt says:

    @Andy: The “moratorium” never really existed as oil and gas lease sales continued uninterrupted. Biden was getting shit on by the left for not even trying to follow through with his promise of no drilling.

    IT doesn’t matter though because there’s thousands of permits/leases not even being used currently. Off shore drilling rigs are reserved years in advance and all they are doing is drilling the well capping it and moving on. Said wells will be exploited years if not a decade or so later.

    Onshore? The vast majority of onshore oil production takes place on privately owned land. Over half of the land under lease for oil and gas production isn’t even being used. There’s a whole lot of onshore wells just capped and waiting for future exploitation.

    There are economic incentives for oil companies to NOT drill on leases they own.

  18. Lounsbury says:

    @Kurtz: Ten years ago I knew little of this. But then I got a green energy financing mandate and now I manage several hundred million euros dedicated to green energy investment for certain European neighbourhoods. These subjects are now my bread and butter rather highly motivating for me (and being a true believer from both economics and from understanding the climate science). Lots of euros, but the binding constraints become worrisome as they are not as sexy as going all Greta and protesting, boring infrastructure is not easy to expand quickly.

    But with expansion and notably east-west continent spanning networks allowing day-night arbitrage, as well as non-carbon emitting base security , RE will naturally crush hydrocarbons. Rather than trying to legislate that, enable the grid and enable the building and grid connexions.

    This existing grid challenges integration post is a quick and seemed reasonable capsule to me.

    Unmentioned in there is the elec-grid frequency service (which classic turbines provide naturally) which becomes a serious issue for grids that go over (depending on engineering specifics) 30-50% RE. (of solutions, flywheel for grid stabilisation and storage [PDF, 2017])

    For these reasons nuclear baseload is strategically interesting complement and enabler to as storage is expensive – and depending on the technology isn’t awesome for frequency service. Do have hopes for small modular but regardless even classic – not to commit the idiotic German error of shutting their nuclear and then ending up with mega ramp up of emissions from coal and gas. Idiotic Grunen trapped in 1970s thinking.

    Neglected to mention the other serious important issue that makes grid the most important thing to enable transition – unless long-distance power wheeling is enabled via grid, local saturation from RE (sunny day, windy day effect) drives economics negative to RE investment. Critical to see scale.

  19. Andy says:


    The debates that are taking place here in Colorado and the region are not about building new coal plants – no one is advocating for that – it’s about when to retire existing coal plants. Some are relatively new and modern and “cleaner” and early retirement would be expensive – meaning rate increases would likely be required, which was a non-starter.

    The IRA changed that in some cases.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: Imagine that. Structuring financial incentives to encourage behavior that will benefit everyone.

  21. Kurtz says:


    Unmentioned in there is the elec-grid frequency service (which classic turbines provide naturally) which becomes a serious issue for grids that go over (depending on engineering specifics) 30-50% RE.

    With higher proportions of RE, intermittence is not the only cause of instability, correct? (I haven’t looked at the flywheel link yet.)

    I guess my questions are about differences in the nature of frequency instability between turbine systems and RE. Does it fall out of the +/-5% from standard more often? Are the swings less predictable? Higher range of +/-? Does it mostly cause undervoltage?

    I didn’t expect to be this interested…I’m also wondering if pushing above the 50% mix requires a radical redesign of systems or if current designs can be tweaked. And if development of different materials can solve that problem.

    Thanks for the info.

  22. Andy says:



    It’s one of the weird things about politics. I live here in Colorado, and I’ve been following the debate about these coal plants, the desire to shut them down early, and the various difficulties in doing so. yet it’s only recently that I found out that the IRA was the grease that helped move this along by ensuring customers won’t see increased costs.

    Normally, I’m not much of a huge fan of the federal government sloshing out billions in subsidies because, let’s face it, a lot of that usually gets wasted or absconded. But this is a case where – to me at least – it makes a lot of sense, is mostly win-win, yet no one is talking about it.

  23. Lounsbury says:

    @Kurtz: Intermittance is only one issue. Lack of resonance / frequency service naturally provided in classic turbines is an non-trivial issue. RE doesn’t provide.

    The specific level at which stability issue is an engineering question which in part is specific to the specifics of the specific grid in question – on which I rely on my engineers, being an egg-head financial economist in education, and aware of the comparitive superficiality of my understanding of the grid engineering issues.

    It is not insolulable – frequency services and specific (not new) technology like the flywheel – but like the grid access these boring unsexy subjects are critical to achieving speed and realisation of best-cost RE.

    Tamping down permits for LNG and other such things is frankly a waste of time and energy. Grid grid grid grid macro and micro build-out and modernisation and permitting streamlining.

    On this energy transition stands or runs into the Yellow Vest or the Gas Boiler reaction if I may use some European references.

    Attention and action here and RE will crush coal, will squeeze out gas. Inattention and one give fuel to the idiocy of the Republicans and possibly materially damage RE adoption.

    Grid infra build out will need to be catalysed and supported by Central Gov – the only way it happens in proper timelines

    This is critical as stabilising that demand is going to be necessary to not run into critical constraints in boring areas as
    (1) Cabling – the boring area of transmission cables as Mfg capacity is limited and has not over the past 60 yrs been necessary at the upcoming levels of demand nevermind foreseen demand acceleration.
    (2) Transfomers – here again mfg capacity is constrained and to see mfg investment in the private market there needs to be medium-term demand stabilisation – as heavy industrial investment does not ramp up on a dime for uncertainty

  24. steve says:

    Agree with the emphasis on building the grid. Renewable energy is going to win out anyway but it will take longer if we dont work harder and faster on the grid.


  25. Tim D. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    US oil and gas production doesn’t exacerbate AGW, the oil and gas was going to be burned anyway, the only question was who banks the cash, Russia, the KSA, or the US.

    This is a simplistic narrative that is just not true.

    1. Increasing fossil fuel supply tends to increase consumption and hence emissions.
    2. Not to mention it delays the necessary decarbonization process and locks in energy infrastructure that will emit for decades.
    3. And on top of that fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure tends to cause serious health harms (including premature death) for people living nearby.

    Don’t fool yourself. Fighting climate change means phasing out fossil fuels as fast as we can.

  26. Lounsbury says:

    @Tim D.: it’s completely true unless one provides RE economic advantage. And that not by constraining hydrocarbon by laws but accelerating RE advantage, I grid.

    Or you end up in failure modes.

  27. JohnSF says:

    @Tim D.:
    Europe desperately needs that LNG to keep gas prices low enough to mitigate the economic harm of Russian gas cut-off while the necessary infrastructure for a de-carbonised system is built out.
    Deny that supply, or price it too high and watch Germany and Poland revert to (even more) lignite burning out of sheer desperation.
    Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.

  28. Tim D. says:

    @JohnSF: Hi JohnSF, again that’s conventional wisdom but it’s just not true!

    1. Existing US LNG infrastructure was sufficient to get Europe through the first few winters. European gas demand is now declining and LNG consumption is projected to peak next year. Europe is already likely oversupplied with LNG import capacity. https://ieefa.org/articles/europes-gas-consumption-falls-10-year-low-peak-lng-demand-nears

    2. Biden’s pause doesn’t impact the 7 existing LNG export terminals or the 4 that our under construction. So even if the pause is made permanent the US will greatly expand its LNG export capacity, far more than is necessary. The pause only impacts the 3rd generation of proposed terminals, which won’t come online for 6-10 years and will play zero role in “saving Europe.” The industry sees this wave as more about building *new* gas power in Asia, not Europe.

    3. The scale of this LNG export build-out is truly massive and isn’t consistent with a 1.5C trajectory (see the IEA Net-Zero Scenario). LNG export terminals are extremely expensive and are financed with 20-year LNG supply contracts. We simply cannot be expanding LNG exports for 20 years to come under any reasonable climate scenario.

  29. Tim D. says:

    @Lounsbury: I agree that a massive build out of RE is needed. Strong climate policy needs to reduce demand for fossil fuels at the same time as we reduce fossil supply. There are risks in either direction of doing one without the other.

    You are worried about reducing supply without a corresponding reduction in demand. But the current situation the US finds itself in is the opposite: we are (hopefully) starting to reduce domestic fossil fuel demand, but fossil supply is surging. We are producing far more than we need domestically, hence the recent surge in exports. The emissions due to exported US oil and gas are undermining the good emissions reductions that will come out of Biden’s IRA and other climate policies.

  30. Lounsbury says:

    @JohnSF: not only Poland and Germany – but additionally causing broad backlash against green energy agenda and t

    The real world potential we are seeing from the ham-handed Eu Commission and German Grünen attempts on driving theoretically green policies on rural – farming triggering important backlash and delay from active resistance. (earliar the Yellow Vests reaction in France, and of course the recent fiasco of the gas boilers bungling by the Grünen again – quite leaving aside the idiocy of the nuclear plants shutting that’s led to more coal burning).

    Simplistic Activitist declarations in words, Must Do X, run into physical reality in the world of energy infrastructure.

  31. JohnSF says:

    @Tim D.:
    Yes, the LNG demand should taper, given renewables increase and French reactors coming back online after maintenance problems. But LNG is still vital to the gas turbines for demand matching and grid-frequency stabilisation. Also, even more than electrical in fact, for heating and industrial processes.
    The European economy is still barely growing: the last thing it needs is another energy price spike. Especially as we are looking at a likely 1 to 2% of GDP jump in defence spending.
    So, good news about the terminals.

    I’m not talking about 20 years expansion, just the next 5. Maybe 10 years max.
    From a decade out gas needs for heating should be dropping markedly due to heat-pump rollout, grid improvements should be in place, and industrial process heat switched to electrical and/or hydrogen.
    But we need those 5 to 10 years.

  32. Tim D. says:

    @JohnSF: I agree, but the oil/gas industry IS in fact talking about a 20 year expansion more consistent with 3C than 1.5C. It sounds like you agree with Biden’s LNG pause, as do I. We should make it permanent. We already have what we need to supply LNG for the next five years. Anything more just locks us in to climate chaos.

  33. Tim D. says:

    @Lounsbury: I’m one of those annoying activists, I suppose. My view is that we are not on target for limiting warming to 1.5C and we need to do much more to get there. Activism is about creating the conditions for politicians to enact the policies we need.

    What is the global temperature rise that you think we should aim for?

  34. Lounsbury says:

    @Tim D.: Such goals are nonsense, they are politics, not either engineering nor finance. I spend zero time thinking about such academic goals.

    It is my literal daily bread & butter to try to get hundreds of millions of Euros, not tens, hundreds on the way to half-billion for next round invested in RE but also associated industrial EE. The current binding constraints are the combination of lack of reform in Regs that are critical to accelerating actual physical build and then also stabilising pricing demand as industrial build out needed is not trivial, it is in reality unprecedented.

    The Real World constraint is engineering and along with engineering the financing of such. Not Activists and Politicians making more nonsense declarations about “must be done” and abstractions about warming goals (which a regardless are subject to such measurement uncertainties to be more academic than practical).

    No such declarations survive transformation into policy when it runs into population standard of living and short-term economics – that is human nature. Already amply being demonstrated in Europe on repeated occasion.

    Rather than empty goals, focus on the reforms that are even now without blithering on about future numbers. As even current numbers are not seeing the Greta Fraction understand Crisis is not merely a word to bandy about but requires own-sacred oxes to be gored

    @Tim D.: The pause is dumb fucking political posturing spending limited political capital, time on something that is utter academic bollocks to please the impractical activist fraction.

    Political time and capital has to be spent on things that result in signfiicant accelration of grid infra build, of connexion approval acceleration, etc.

    Otherwise you are just prepping the decredibilisaiton event like the idiotic Grunen did in Germany

    Bloody petrol sector plan whatever they want, the economics and the engineering kill that more smartly than foolish regulation plays

  35. Tim D. says:

    @Lounsbury: Meh. I’m glad you are working to get more RE built, but I disagree with your analysis. Have a nice day.

  36. Lounsbury says:

    @Tim D.: Of course you do, it’s all words for you. Very easy for bureaucrats and activists to “analyse” in the abstract.

    Physical realisations for heavy industrial development and infrastructure is rather harder.