Fossil Fuel Vs. Renewable Energy: Which Is More Environmentally Safe?

1790 words - 8 pages

Fossil Fuel vs. Renewable Energy: Which is More Environmentally Safe?
Cassandra Bohaychyk
Professor Welsh
June 23, 2013

Fossil Fuel vs. Renewable Energy: Which is More Economical and Environmentally Safe?

While both have vital uses in the U.S, oil energy and renewable energy are pitted against each other as the main focuses of resources in the U.S environmental policy because each has an effect on the environment. Renewable energy is constant and can be found all over the nation, but may be costly in different ways. Fossil fuels may be a natural resource but are a one-time use that could eventually become obsolete, and could also be costly. Demonstrating in this research ...view middle of the document...

Burning oil at power plants produces nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, methane, and mercury compounds. The amount of sulfur dioxide and mercury compounds can vary greatly depending on the sulfur and mercury content of the oil that is burned. The construction of large oil-fired power plants can destroy habitats for animals and plants. Waste products from refining and from power plants (such as wastewater sludge and residues) can cause land contamination if not properly disposed. In addition, when oil spills occur on land, soils are degraded. When oil-fired power plants remove water from a lake or river, fish and other aquatic life can be killed, which affects those animals and people who depend on these aquatic resources. Oil refining produces wastewater sludge and other solid waste that can contain high levels of metals and toxic compounds and that may require special handling, treatment, and disposal.
The United States was once self-sufficient in oil, but began importing more oil than it produced in 1994. In 2012, 40 percent of the oil consumed in the US was imported from foreign countries. According to the EIA, the top five source nations for net petroleum and petroleum product imports to the US in 2012 were Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Russia. Despite the rapid growth of global demand for petroleum products, the EIA estimates that less than half the world’s total conventional oil reserves will have been exhausted by 2030. (
Renewable energy in the U.S can be obtained in many different ways including hydro, wood, biofuels, solar, biomass waste, geothermal and wind. These resources can all be found here in the U.S and also have an effect on the environment. With the right policies in place, states and localities can harness their own natural resources -- from farmland and sunshine to wind and skilled labor -- to develop a local renewable energy industry.
According to the Institute for Energy Research there are more than 400 manufacturing facilities across the U.S. supplying some of the 8,000 components in a wind turbine; creates steady income for investors and landowners, and provides manufacturing, construction and operation jobs for at least 75,000 Americans. Wind power is an affordable, efficient and abundant source of domestic electricity. It's pollution-free and cost-competitive with energy from new coal- and gas-fired power plants in many regions. Many solar panel manufacturers are based in the United States, employing more than 27,000 Americans in high-earning, high-tech jobs. The sun's energy can be captured to generate electricity or heat through a system of panels or mirrors. Unlike conventional fossil fuel and nuclear power, solar power produces no polluting emissions, including those that cause global warming. Hydroelectric power plants use dams to impound river water in a reservoir, and then release it in a controlled fashion to spin a turbine...

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