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The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has focused attention on the nation's energy portfolio. In an appearance on the June 20, 2010, edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said, "We only have 2 percent of the oil reserves in the world, and we consume 25 percent of the world's oil on a daily basis. That is nonsustainable."
We won't pass judgment on whether it's sustainable or not, since that's a matter of opinion. But we did think it would be worth checking Markey's facts, especially since this comparison has become something of a Democratic talking point. President Barack Obama said something similar in his Oval Office address to the nation on June 15, 2010. The president's phrasing differed slightly, saying that the United States consumes "more than 20 percent" of the world’s oil, rather than "25 percent."
We looked to the Energy Information Administration -- the nonpartisan Energy Department office that publishes the most complete set of statistics on U.S. energy use -- to confirm these numbers.
For U.S. oil reserves, we turned to EIA's "World Liquid Fuels Analysis to 2030." A table in this report showed that, as of Jan. 1, 2009, the U.S. has 21.3 billion barrels of oil reserves. That's about 1.6 percent of the world total which, rounded up, would be 2 percent, as Markey said. (For the curious, that ranks the U.S. 12th in the world in reserves, with the top five being, in order, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait.)
As for the second claim, about U.S. consumption, we turned to EIA's country-by-country summaries of petroleum consumption.
The most recent figures, available for 2008, are preliminary. These show that the U.S. consumed 19,498,000 barrels per day, compared to 85,462,000 for the world as a whole -- or 22.8 percent.
That's a bit lower than Markey's 25 percent. But we'll add that in 2006 and 2007, the U.S. share of world consumption was 24 percent, which is just a hair under the number Markey cited.
All told, Markey would have been better off using Obama's formulation -- that the U.S. consumes "more than 20 percent" of the world's oil. But he's still close. We rate his statement Mostly True.
Ed Markey, comments on NBC's Meet the Press, June 20, 2010
White House, Oval Office address by President Barack Obama on the BP oil spill, June 15, 2010
Energy Information Administration, "Total Petroleum Consumption, All Countries, Total OECD, and World Total, Most Recent Annual Estimates, 1980-2007" (table), accessed June 21, 2010
Energy Information Administration, "World Liquid Fuels Analysis to 2030" (Table 4, World Oil Reserves by Country as of January 1, 2009), accessed June 21, 2010
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