Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Letter to the Reps

This letter, and one slightly modified for the President, is going to Schakowsky and Durbin.

I spent this afternoon reading a variety of material related to the article in The Guardian regarding the allegation of pressure by the United States on the International Energy Agency (IEA) as it developed global oil reserve estimates. The article can be found online at this link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/09/peak-oil-international-energy-agency

The allegation is made by an unidentified individual employed by the IEA and has been denied by Dr. Fatih Birol, the Chief Economist. However, Kjell Aleklett, the President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), confirmed receiving the same information in 2007 while attending an IEA sponsored meeting in Paris. His statement can be found at this link: http://www.energybulletin.net/50662

I have wondered when our elected representatives would finally grow a pair and confront the singular issue that drives absolutely everything in this country: energy. Right now much pious chest thumping is expended on declaring that we will embrace renewables without any consideration of the fact that renewables will never replace fossil fuels, especially oil. Alternatively, we hear the mantra to “drill, baby, drill” with little thought given to the fact that we will not, because we cannot, drill our way into energy security. Very little effort is given to conservation. Apparently the thought is that the market will, eventually, take care of that for us. However, the market has not really done that. The economy has, but for how long? No thought is being given to the fact that China and India will be our biggest competitors for oil, and I note that China recently inked a loan deal with Petrobras, in which repayment is 150,000 barrels of oil per day. Unless this article lights a fire under 435 Congressional butts and 100 Senatorial butts, I have no expectation that you, or your peers, will do anything. It’s not as if this information is new.

Back in 2005 Dr. Robert Hirsch submitted a report, at the request of the Department of Energy, titled PEAKING OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION: IMPACTS, MITIGATION, & RISK MANAGEMENT. It can be found at this link: http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/Oil_Peaking_NETL.pdf

While one can argue about Dr. Hirsch’s recommendations to mitigate Peak Oil, what cannot be argued with is the complexity of the problem, the unassailable impact on our economy, and the timeline needed to put mitigations in place. The Bush Administration did nothing that I can see, and the Obama Administration appears headed down the same path. This is inexcusable. The American public may be forgiven for shortsightedness but I will not forgive my elected representatives, especially you.

Assuming the IEA’s predictions are correct, and the US exerted no pressure, we have very little time to prepare. Filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will not solve the problem. Putting every available acre under till to create biofuels will not solve the problem. Dropping oil and gas wells in every conceivable location under US control will not solve the problem. Conservation by itself will not solve the problem. Building nuclear plants everywhere will not solve the problem. Investing in renewables to the exclusion of all else will not solve the problem. Some combination of all of the above will mitigate the loss of oil, but will not solve the problem. More importantly, our elected representatives must face the facts and tell the American public what it may not want to hear; that we must radically redefine “the American way of life” and take the emphasis off of “stuff” and put it back on community. You need to say it, emphasize it, and live it. Be visible!

If you are not up to the task, I’ll be happy to take your place, or vote into office someone who will.

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