Energy

All of the energy we use comes from the Earth, its atmosphere, or the Sun. Some resources are mined or extracted, like coal, uranium, oil, and gas. Others, like wind, solar, tidal, biomass, and hydropower resources, are harnessed at the Earth’s surface. Geoscientists play an essential role in developing energy resources and evaluating their environmental impacts.

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute

Latest News

The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig
(2017-05-18)
April 28, 2017 President Donald Trump released an executive order targeting the five-year oil and gas leasing plan finalized under the Obama administration. The order, entitled “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” encourages exploration and production on the Outer Continental...
Earth
(2017-05-18)
April 26, 2017 The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on April 26 to examine a discussion draft of a bill that would amend certain provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA) to streamline management and licensing processes for nuclear waste disposal...
The White House
(2017-04-10)
March 28, 2017 President Donald Trump issued an executive order “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” on March 28. The order rescinds several environmental regulations instituted under the Obama Administration. It contains provisions that target various energy sectors, including coal...
Natural gas pump
(2017-04-10)
March 15, 2017 On March 15, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced a bill that would authorize more lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). S.665, the Unleashing American Energy Act of 2017, would enable the Department of the Interior (DOI) to add additional lease sales to an existing...
Drilling rig
(2017-04-10)
March 6, 2017 The Department of the Interior (DOI) will offer 73 million acres, including all available areas in the Gulf of Mexico, for oil and gas exploration and development, according to an announcement from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on March 6. The proposed lease sale is scheduled for...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
(2017-04-10)
March 2, 2017 A bipartisan group of senators introduced the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (S.512) on March 2. The bill aims to modernize nuclear energy regulations and promote innovation in the nuclear sector. S.512 focuses on reforming the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC)...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
(2017-03-06)
February 16, 2017 Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12) introduced legislation (H.R.1119) to modify existing regulations applying to coal-refuse-to-energy power plants on February 16. The bill acts to exempt these specific power plants from emission standards required under the Environmental Protection...
Natural gas pump
(2017-03-06)
February 7, 2017 Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) introduced the Federal Land Freedom Act (S.335) and the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act (S.334) on February 7. These bills remove the authority of federal decision-makers to manage  energy resources on public lands. Sen....
U.S. Capitol
(2017-02-07)
January 19, 2017 Secretary of Energy nominee, Rick Perry, was questioned in a hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on January 19. The Department of Energy (DOE) operates 17 national laboratories, manages the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and has 14,000 employees. Senators questioned...
An earthquake-safe pipeline crossing the San Andreas Fault at Cholame, California. Image Copyright © Michael Collier http://www.earthscienceworld.org/images
(2016-12-05)
On Thursday and Friday, December 1-2, the National Academies' Roundtable on Unconventional Hydrocarbons held a workshop on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development: Legacy Issues, Induced Seismicity, and Innovations in Managing Risk. The meeting brought together experts from industry, academia, state...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the North Slope Borough case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on oil production in Alaska's North Slope Borough can be found here...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Kern County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on oil production in Kern County, California can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Tarrant and Johnson counties case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on natural gas production in Tarrant and Johnson Counties, Texas can...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the DeSoto Parish case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on natural gas production in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana can be found...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Campbell County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on coal mining in Campbell County, Wyoming can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Boone, Logan and Mingo counties case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on coal mining in West Virginia's Boone, Logan, and Mingo counties...

Fig. 1. Exposure of sandstone capping an economic coal bed. Credit: J. Shaulis, Pennsylvania Geological Survey

Defining the Problem Despite Pennsylvania’s long history as a major coal producer, information on the coal geology (Fig. 1), remaining resources, and extent of past mining is not available for many areas of the state. Such information is critical for present and future coal exploration and...

Research Database Publications

Cover of USGS_2015-3054, Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean volumes of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources of 463 million barrels of oil, 11.2 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 35 million barrels of natural gas liquids in the Cherokee Platform Province...
Cover of Critical Needs 2016 Report; Source: AGI
2015, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
The geoscience community has the knowledge, experience, and ingenuity to address a wide range of societal needs. We study Earth’s systems, the complex geologic, marine, atmospheric, and hydrologic processes that sustain life and the economy. Geoscience expertise allows us to better understand and...
Cover of ofr20161033; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced emissions standards, known as Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), for a range of toxic constituents from coal-fired utility power stations and other combustion sources. This report presents the findings of an expert panel...
Cover of USGS_circ1370.pdf; Source: USGS
2011, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) was asked to conduct an initial, independent evaluation of the science needs that would inform the Administration’s consideration of the right places and the right ways in which to develop oil and gas resources in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS),...
Cover of O96-4 ; Source: Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
1996, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI)
Recent developments in the energy supply of the Pacific Northwest, such as the continuing controversy over the impact of hydro dams on salmon, and the closure of the Trojan nuclear plant suggest that alternative energy sources may become more economically competitive. Although the geothermal...
Cover of C121 ; Image credit: Utah Geological Survey
2016, Utah Geological Survey (UGS)
Utah is fortunate to have abundant and diverse energy resources including large reserves of conventional fossil fuels, several areas suitable for renewable resource development, and vast quantities of untapped unconventional oil shale and oil sand resources. This publication, Utah’s Energy...
Cover of PUB111; Source: Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy
1991, Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources (VA DGMR)
This study indicates that at the time of publication the coal resources in Lee County 944-millions short tons of coal originally existed, of which 72-million short tons have been mined, leaving 871-million short tons of remaining coal.
Cover of PP1625f; Source: USGS
2009, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has completed the National Coal Resource Assessment (NCRA), a multiyear project by the USGS Energy Resources Program, in partnership with State geological surveys in the coal producing regions of the United States. The NCRA is the first digital national coal-...
Cover of R055; Source: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
2015, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG)
Geothermal resources can potentially contribute toward the renewable energy portfolio of White Pine County (WPC) in two ways: first through the direct conversion of heat energy into electricity, and the second by way of direct-use applications in which thermal energy is used as a source of heat for...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3104 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Significant quantities of water are present in hydrocarbon reservoirs. When brought to the land surface during oil, gas, and coalbed methane production, the water—either naturally occurring or injected as a method to enhance production—is termed produced water. Produced water is currently managed...