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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 34


Additional  Protected Natural Resources Indicators

35 - Farmland

36 - Beach Closings

37 - Preserved and Developed Land

Energy Consumption

Annual energy consumption: Increasing

  Things to think about 

Approximately 33 percent of the energy we consume in New Jersey is used for transportation.

New and renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, offer us impressive potential to pollute less while still living in whatever ways we choose. However, to reap these benefits we have to invest in developing new technology.

More efficient automobiles, refrigerators, light bulbs, manufacturing processes, and machines of many kinds can cut our energy use and save money, without changing the ways that we live, but we have to choose to use these efficient technologies.

Importance

Our lifestyle and economy are dependent on the use of large quantities of energy to run our cars, appliances, factories, and homes. The vast majority of this energy production creates pollution, whether in the form of greenhouse gases, toxins, or radioactive waste. In fact, most air pollution comes, directly or indirectly, from the creation and consumption of energy. Perhaps the most troublesome aspect of our energy dependence is that most of our energy comes from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that are finite and non-renewable.

Economic

Increases in energy prices translate quickly into higher prices for goods and services at every level. Energy shortages have the power to plunge an economy into recession. With so much of our energy usage, especially transportation, dependent on foreign oil sources, our economy is not as secure as it could be. Technologies that use energy more efficiently can cut our risks and expenses impressively, but most companies, homes, and government agencies do not use them.

Environmental

The combustion of coal, oil, or natural gas by power plants, motor vehicles, and other sources emits greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Most air pollution is the result of some kind of energy production or consumption. In addition, the extraction and use of these sources of energy can radically alter local landscapes, and sometimes leads to oil spills in the ocean or accidents at power plants. There is not yet an accepted long-term solution for safe disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.

Social

New Jersey is a major recipient of and contributor to air pollution. Just as pollution from upwind neighbors angers us, the pollution we emit angers our neighbors when it crosses into their states and countries. To voluntarily reduce the energy we consume will require cooperation among neighbors who carpool, families who remember to turn off lights, and consumers who buy efficient appliances and cars. Ending our unsustainable energy dependence will require the efforts of our entire society.

Knowledge Gaps

We do not yet have widely released, assessed, or accepted data on the percentage of our energy that comes from renewable, clean, or sustainable sources. As a result of energy deregulation, new data are becoming available through a new reporting requirement that provides consumers with a standard set of information about the environmental characteristics of energy they purchase.

Data Source: US Energy Information Administration

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: May 1, 2007

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