Updates on the Energy Bills and a New Version of the RPS: There's Still Time to Call Your Member!

Two updates:

1. The House Rules Committee has taken testimony on all of the amendments and is prepared, but hasn't yet scheduled a meeting to vote on the Rule for consideration of the energy bills. It is still possible for the House to take up the energy bills later today.

2. About the Udall RPS, the today's revised version can be found here (PDF warning). A couple of notes: Municipal solid waste is not included as an eligible renewable resource. 25 states have municipal solid waste to energy plants. Among these are 12 of the states that have RPS and that include municipal solid waste energy plants in their RPS. MSW is controversial among those who consider themselves among the environmental community. Readers can help their Members by informing them if they have an opinion about the current amendment.

As mentioned in our previous update, Dave Roberts has a nice writeup over at the Gristmill on the national RPS here.

We continue to beseech TOD Readers to inform their Members about their particular recommendations for voting for or against amendments and/or the bill, especially the adopting of a national Renewable Portfolio Standard. The Capitol Hill Switchboard is 202-225-3121--it is a good idea to know your Member's name or your zip code (all nine digits) when calling--Members only want to hear from their constituents.

Our previous posts on the topic (which contain links to legislation and proposed amendments) can be found here and here.

Hi The Oil Drum

Just wanted to let you know I have nominated you for a Bloggers for Positive Global Change award.


This energy bill is a joke. While Nancy Pelosi's bill doesn't open up areas in the US where oil can be found, which will help elevate our oil crisis, the Russians are claiming the artic for their own!

China is helping Castro's Cuba drill for oil a scant 45 miles off of Florida while we can't touch ANY of that oil due to the cowardly efforts of the Administration to appease the monstrous enviromental movement.

Of course it does push enthanol production-a miserable failure just waiting to happen. It actually is energy counter-productive to produce that on an industrial scale such as with our nation. To replace half our current gasoline consumption with Ethanol would require 13% of the United States land mass. I say we start with California's Bay area first!

China's off-shore oil production is set to increase 15% this year alone while in this de-energy bill gets rid of 20% of our off-shore natural gas output.

And this bill does nothing to promote nuclear energy. China will be adding 40 new nuclear reactors in the next 15 years.

This current congress is a bigger failure than the previous congress.

Congrats guys!


(With thanks to Investors Business Daily).

You You make excellent points BRussellNM. I understand how growth obsessed environmentalists are such a large part of our entropy/energy (peak oil) problems. If they simply understood that you can’t keep doubling population and resource use forever on a ball, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

I also agree with you about opening up more areas to exploration in the U.S. I’m sure we’d find another Ghawar somewhere locally if petroleum Geologists were allowed to look up the skirt of those “environmentally sensitive” areas. Hot dog, if oil companies were willing to blow money on searching below the oil window we could get lucky and go all the way.

As for Cuba’s offshore drilling…, I don’t really know much about it but if it just so happens to be in Cuban territory…, well…, I guess we could divert a few troops from Iraq. If not…, I’m confident Florida alone could kick Cuba’s ass.

But I guess I could be missing the point…, maybe what you wrote is actually meant as satire.

Hi BRussellNM,

You are clearly new to the concepts surrounding Oil depletion and Peak Oil. We should not deplete our domestic reserves while others are willing to sell us oil. We will need those reserves far worse in 20-40 years when there are no oil exporters.

For those new to the concepts of oil depletion and peak oil (restricted production flow of oil) here are some resources:

1. A nice introduction and quiz can be found on the title bar link "Peak Oil Overview".

2. A quick peak oil primer can be found here:

3. "Beyond Oil" by Kenneth Deffeyes explains peak oil in detail and describes one of the statistical methods for predicting when the peak will happen. He also estimates the amount of oil still to be discovered.

4. "A Prosperous Way Down: Principals and Policies" by Howard T. Odum discusses how to keep the economy as healthy as possible on the downward slope of energy production. Not exporting high quality oil supplies is one of the recommendations (the oil is more valuable turned into manufactured products).

5. "Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update" by Dennis Meadows. Oil depletion is just one symptom of the much larger problem of exponential growth expanding larger than our limited resource base. This book examines many of the other limits our economy and population must survive. If you want to understand the "big picture" this is the book to read. (and no, it does not predict that society would collapse before 2000. Read it and learn what it really predicts.)

(Prof. Goose: I put this here because it seems people are getting directed to this site to comment on the legislation. I think some introduction up front may help those understand the perspective of The Oil Drum. But if you feel it is off topic and remove it, I understand).

Jon Freise

Analyze Not Fantasize -D. Meadows

Not at all Jon. I would also direct folks to our own Gail Tverberg's excellent primer/book, the first three chapters of which can be accessed here. It's a wonderful primer on peak oil and other matters. I would also point our readers to the primer box in the right hand column.

From The New York Times, 5/9/2006: "The United States Geological Survey estimates that the energy field on Cuba's side alone may have 4.6 billion barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That much energy is equivalent to just a few months of the United States' total energy consumption."

This offshore Cuba field is really small potatoes, it's about 25% as big as ANWR, which itself would take a decade to peak at about 1MBD, when it would provide about 4% of U.S. energy needs. These are tactical assets, nothing worth a big fight.


Its not small potatoes to the Cubans. At current prices for oil and gas the gross sales should be about $300 billion dollars. And it wouldn't be small potatoes to our big oil companies, either. Its about 3/4ths the size of the East Texas field, the largest field found in the lower 48.

The field shows the immense potential of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. States should only be able to block drilling in federal waters within site of land-approximatley 10 nautical miles. There hasn't been a large spill connected with drilling and production since the Santa Barbara Channel blow out in 1978, nearly 30 years.

Bob Ebersole


I think we agree on all points. I was replying to someone who implied that Cuba & China gain strategic advantage over the U.S. by developing this field today.

My disagreement was to put things into perspective. This is Cuba's one giant field. If they sell its oil into the international market now, there won't be any left for Cubans in a generation, when the oil is far more precious.

I agree that America must also eventually dip into its coastal offshore oil savings account, but for now we are wisely letting it "collect interest" in the ground.

p.s. The NYT article seemed to mix oil & natgas into one BBL estimate, so the field may not be as big, oilwise, as seems.

"This is Cuba's one giant field. If they sell its oil into the international market now, there won't be any left for Cubans in a generation, when the oil is far more precious."

Absolutely correct, and get this, we're probably going to get most of the oil anyway!

Think about it....which would pay better...to ship the oil halfway around the world to China, or to go ahead and sell it within a hop, skip and a jump of where it's drilled, and buy oil on the world market with the cash....without the waste of long range transport?

It always cracks me up when people howl about the fact that Alaskan oil goes to Japan.....duh!

Oil is fungable and money is oil. Cut out the waste, and you end up with more oil....

Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom


Welcome to The Oil Drum! I think its flattering that you decided to join our blog just so you could comment on the pending legislation. I hope you stick around and participate, we don't have many conservatives posting here. Any real American knows that both sides in every debate sometimes have great ideas, and that the current dogmatism divides our country so that we end up with paralyses on important issues.
Bob Ebersole

we don't have many conservatives posting here

I was a Republican until GWB cured me. So was WesTexas#

Does that count ?


# WesTexas is a regular poster here that is an independent geologist in West Texas. Just now developing a small oil field that he found (long and slow production is what he wants).

He also wrote:


My position on offshore drilling and ANWR is:


The oil and gas is not going anywhere.

We will need it to fuel farm tractors in a few decades (two ?)

My unofficial "sign" that it is time to stop waiting ?

When it has been six months since I have seen a Hummer, Expedition or Escalade. Time to start the 10 year clock from decision to first production (and 15 or so years to peak production).

Food is very important to me.

Best Hopes for Rational Planning,


Hi Alan,

I am working up a post on the cost of saving 10% fuel usage by different methods (free market, ethanol, CAFE, rail, etc).

Do you have an estimate on the cost to build out the rail outlined in your 10% savings plan. I skimmed through it looking for costs, but didn't see any.

Or if you have a recommendation of where to look?

I calculated how much the market price would need to increase to cut 10% and the cost would be over 80 billion, most of which leaves the US. (oil companies get a cut, of course, so they will be in favor of the free market solution).


Jon Freise

Analyze Not Fantasize -D. Meadows


has an Urban Rail estimate of $135 to $175 billion (note that much of this infrastructure will last 40 years (rolling stock) to over a century (subways).

Freight rail electrification could cost $3 million/mile plus new tracks (figure $150/foot/track). Offsetting this is reduced highway use & wear by heavy trucks. Again, long lived infrastructure.

Rail has elasticity of supply. the worse things get, the more transportation they can provide, and the more people will move close to them.

-10% was a conservative #. At $10/gallon, 80% or more of trucking ton-miles will move to rail and short haul deliveries (unless warehouses move to rail sidings).

Best Hopes,


Thanks Alan. I should have specified that the price based demand destruction would be 80 billion per year or 800 billion over 10 years. That makes the electrified rail option pretty attractive.

Jon Freise

Analyze Not Fantasize -D. Meadows

Hi Jon,

This sounds like a worthy project, thanks for doing it.

It seems like there ought to be a place and/or a way to factor in what amounts to the qualitative aspect of rail electrification, namely - If fueled by re-newables and/or having either primary or redundant capacity via some distributed energy system, then we are looking at being able to ship, say, food ("agricultural products") even under conditions of FF shortages. (In other words, what price to put on something that works when other options do not?)

(Question mark?)

"it is a good idea to know your Member's name or your zip code (all nine digits) when calling--Members only want to hear from their constituents."

Darn, that's a sad bit of business....I am in Kentucky, and our Kentucky Congressional delegation only wants to hear about,

(a) Coal
(b) Clean Coal
(c) Coal To Liquid
(d) Coal to anything, and

(By the way, that's (pretty much all our citizens, busineses, and Universities want to hear about too....if you want to spook them, just shout "CARBON TAX!" That is considered an attempt to incite panic and riot in this state! :-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Congresional Staffers and Professor Goose:

I just added a long comment on the tax provisions to yesterday's comments on the energy bill. If you have not checked that thread today, please do so.

Professor G, if you can move that comment over to this thread and eliminate this post, please do so. Thanks, by the way! I really appreciate the true patriotism of having us combine to write comments on the energy bill. Its what I think all of us dream for with the internet, a chance to participate in democratic decisions in a positive manner. Bob Ebersole

i'm at yearlykos in chicago
i may have a chance to ask barack obama a question, and i want it to be about the axis of evil: energy/climate/food

last i heard he supported coal liquification, but I'm not sure. is there something else/better energy-related i should ask him?


comedian, author, vigilante pundit

Population. Only other thing I can think of -- energy/environment/population -- that's about it.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

Ask him about his support for a national Renewable Portfolio Standard...and at what percentage we should be at by 2015 (not this 2022 bullshit) of alternative sources. Push him to get to 20%.

thanks PG,

so I asked him about his coal support and RPS stance.
here's the short version. i'm working on a blog post and hopefully video.

could use some web search help in finding video of Obama at YearlyKos. Reporters from Fox News Chicago and NY Times followed up with me after the session, so there's a decent chance video exists. especially at ustream.tv or cspan

short version of his answers. i would characterize them as "good but not right"

RPS. he supports 20%. i forgot to ask about 2022 vs. 2015. SORRY

Coal. he explained that coal was our most abundant AND most polluting energy resource. Due to large number of power plants relying on it, he wants to get sequestration up and running, and price coal such that there's an economic disincentive to use he. he talked about need to transition workers to new jobs away from coal over time. ultimately, sounds like he sees need for coal "in the mix" but maybe low on the list.

again, could use some Oil Drum help in parsing his answer, so hopefully we can find the video.

in followup i asked him about mountain top coal. he said he was against it and strip mining (or something like that. i'm not familiar enough with coal to know if those are the same things).

report back here if you find anything, and i'll add it to an overall blog post and put the link here.



comedian, author, vigilante pundit

Here is how Bob Park's What's New reported the bill to the American physicist audience:

Debate on The New Directions for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act begins today. The 720 page bill has a lot of good stuff, but fails to boost the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard. John Dingell, the Representative from Chevrolet and Ford, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, killed any increase in CAFE. That sets up a Conference fight with the Senate, which included an increase in its version. Dingell will probably win. The rest of us will lose.

There is more at the What's New website including a snip on what Murdoch's recent takeover might mean for the way the Wall Street Journal does it's climate reporting.


I saw a poll the other day that showed 85% of voters in Dingell's district want higher CAFE standards. If there is a better example of loyalty to campaign contributors out weighs loyalty to voters I'd like to see it.

Breaking News:


Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom