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The Energy In The USA

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The Energy In The USA

Harnessed energy is one of the USA's greatest strengths. Its rivers and dams produce hydroelectric power in abundance, and it is the world's leading producer of coal. Though its oil reserves are only the fourth largest in the world - after Saudi Arabia, the USSR and Mexico - it is second only to the USSR as an oil producer, with 8.9 million barrels a day against the USSR's 11.9 million. Owing to its ownership pattern, however, the USA's production comes from five times as many wells as the USSR's, and from 191 refineries compared with 38; the USA has, in fact, the largest refining capacity in the world.

Energy in the USA
The Energy In The USA

It has the third largest reserves of natural gas, and is the foremost producer of uranium, supplying 80 nuclear power stations, with more to come on line if environmental objections are resolved. Produced by whatever means, the USA generates and consumes about a quarter of all the electricity generated in the world.





High consumption rates cause problems. Despite its huge resources, the USA must still import oil, and was consequently badly hit by the oil crisis, which began in 1973. This, together with overseas industrial competition and changes in trade, has given the USA some bad years for employment. At one point in 1982, the unemployment rate reached almost 11 per cent; in 1983, it was 9.6 per cent. The 1985 figure was 7.2 per cent. Heavy industries have suffered particularly, as have the poorer working populations of the northern inner cities. But American finance is lighter on its feet than that of many European countries, and it began to advance the development of the new, high technology industries - such as those in California's Silicon Valley - in other parts of the west and the Deep South. In the early 1980s, many northern workers followed suit, with scarcely a backward glance, to settle in this so-called Sun Belt.





Always a trendsetter in industrial and sociological affairs, America seems to be heading for a 'post-industrial' future in which manufacture is based on automation and its people live in smaller, more widespread communities. Already, more than three-quarters of its work force are engaged in communications, the wholesale and retail trades, health care, banking and finance, government, catering, and in leisure and other services.

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