Energy is one of the basic necessities of our universe. It is the master resource, because it enables us to convert one material into another. Most of the energy we use today and have used for a while comes from fossil fuels. A fossil fuel is any naturally occurring fuel of an organic nature formed by the decomposition of plants or animals. There are three fossil fuels. These include coal, oil, and natural gas. These fossil fuels prove to be very important in our everyday lives. They provide 88 percent of all primary energy and 70 percent of all electricity that we use in the United States today. They make it possible for automobiles, airplanes, ships, and trains, as well as many other powered machines to function. These fossil fuels even act as a "universal currency"(Energy Policy 7) between the United States and many other countries we trade with and buy from. But every year our country grows. People make more money, buy more things, and use more energy. This is called the "Wealth Effect"(Energy Policy 14). How long will these natural resources, we call fossil fuels, last? .
Our most abundant fossil fuel is coal. Coal is primarily used in the United States to generate electricity. It is burned in power plants to produce more than one half of all the electricity that we use. "The United States has more coal reserves than any other single country in the world"(Fossil Energy Coal 2). One quarter of all known coal in the world can be found beneath 38 of the 50 states. .
The material that formed fossil fuels varied greatly over time as each layer was buried. As a result of these variations and the length of time the coal was forming, several different types of coal were created. Each type of coal burns differently and releases different types of emissions. The first type is Lignite. Lignite is the world's largest portion of the worlds coal reserves and also gives off the least amount of energy when burned.