AP Environmental Science : Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Fossil Fuels

At the current rate of consumption, available natural gas reserves are expected to last another:

Possible Answers:

25 years

50 years

100 years

600 years

75 years

Correct answer:

75 years

Explanation:

Currently available natural gas reserves are expected to last another 75 years at the current rate of consumption.

Example Question #11 : Energy Production And Usage

Which type of coal is the cleanest and most efficient?

Possible Answers:

Charcoal

Lignite

Sub-bituminous coal

Bituminous coal

Anthracite

Correct answer:

Anthracite

Explanation:

The least efficient and most abundant form of coal is lignite; after this comes bituminous coal, then, lastly, anthracite. Anthracite is a very hard form of coal with an extremely high carbon content. Anthracite also burns the cleanest of any coal, but unfortunately it is the least abundant and hardest to reach form of coal. Charcoal is not coal at all, but rather compressed and burned wood, consisting mainly of carbon and any remaining ash.

Example Question #3 : Fossil Fuels

Which of the following is NOT a true advantage of utilizing coal as an energy source?

Possible Answers:

Coal is very energy-dense and has a high energy yield.

Coal produces relatively low sulphur emissions when burned.

Clean coal technology is a promising technology that reduces the environmental impact of modern coal plants.

Coal is abundant and confirmed reserves are predicted to last three hundred years.

Coal can be extracted and processed domestically, potentially reducing U.S. dependency on foreign oil.

Correct answer:

Coal produces relatively low sulphur emissions when burned.

Explanation:

Clean coal technology is a promising solution to minimizing pollution from coal plants, and coal is one of the most abundant fossil fuels on the planet, with reserves potentially lasting up to three hundred years. Coal is also very energy-dense when compared to biomass or other renewable energy sources; however, the sulphur content of coal varies based on geographic location, and in areas that depend on locally sourced, sulphur-rich coal, the resulting emissions contribute heavily to acidic precipitation.

Example Question #4 : Fossil Fuels

Which of the following pairs of factors have placed the United States in a position of dependency on foreign oil?

Possible Answers:

Superior fuel quality from Middle Eastern-sourced petroleum and low import tariffs.

Disproportionately high demand for fossil fuels and a low capacity to produce domestic petrol.

Most U.S. oil reserves have been exhausted and most oil-rich Middle-Eastern nations are politically very stable and offer reliable trade agreements.

Trade agreements made with OPEC and a per capita demand that far outpaces much of the world.

The environmental and labor regulations for oil refining in the U.S. are more costly to firms than the duties and tariffs from importing oil from less regulated countries.

Correct answer:

Disproportionately high demand for fossil fuels and a low capacity to produce domestic petrol.

Explanation:

The United States is 5% of the world Population and consumes 25% of global fossil fuel production. In addition, North America peaked in oil production in the 1970's which, when combined with a disproportionately high demand, results in a national dependence on foreign-sourced oil.

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