The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007

President Bush has signed the new energy bill.

The entire text of H.R. 6 can be read here (PDF) or here (HTML).

There's a quick overview here.

One element that's kind of flown under the radar: the US is joining the growing ranks of countries that are banning incandescent bulbs.

It's lights out for traditional light bulbs

A little-noticed provision of the energy bill, which is expected to become law, phases out the 125-year-old bulb in the next four to 12 years in favor of a new generation of energy-efficient lights that will cost consumers more but return their investment in a few months.

The new devices include current products such as compact fluorescents and halogens, as well as emerging products such as light-emitting diodes and energy-saving incandescent bulbs.

There have been a lot of requests for a dedicated thread to talk about this new legislation. Have at it!

Here are excerpts from a Bloomberg article today:

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is placing a ``big bet''by planning to rely on cellulosic ethanol to meet fuel needs, said Keith Collins, who is retiring in January after 15 years as the chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

President George W. Bush yesterday signed an energy bill that boosts the use of alternative fuels such as ethanol from 7.5 billion gallons this year to 36 billion in 2022.
About 20 billion of those gallons would need to come from
wood chips, crop waste and forms of the biofuel not made from corn, the predominant ethanol source in the U.S., Collins said today in an interview. Cellulosic plants have not been proven on a commercial scale, Collins said, making the energy plan ``an incredibly bold piece of legislation.''
``If we build 50-million gallon cellulosic ethanol plants,
which are actually bigger than some of the ones we have under construction right now, we would have to build 400 plants to meet that demand,'' he said. This construction would need to take place ``after this technology is proven to be economically feasible, which it hasn't been.''

As chief economist since 1992, Collins has been
responsible for all data gathered by the USDA, which is the
fourth-largest U.S. Cabinet department, with a roughly $100
billion budget and 110,000 employees.

AP has a similar article:

The U.S. currently produces nearly 7 billion gallons of ethanol, all of it made from corn, thanks in large part to government mandates and subsidies included in the 2005 energy bill. The 2007 bill, which passed the House Tuesday and the Senate last week, mandates 36 billion gallons by 2022, with 21 billion gallons coming from so-called cellulosic ethanol.

There are significant obstacles to meeting this goal, however, not least of which is devising a profitable method of producing cellulosic ethanol.

Other challenges include: growing enough feedstock without harming the environment and efficiently transporting it to ethanol refineries; delivering the finished fuel to pumps nationwide; and bolstering consumer demand. The lack of an adequate transportation system for biofuels and limited demand already have squeezed ethanol producers’ profits this year.

And Technology Review has a lengthy series this week called The Price of Biofuels:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

It's pretty grim, for them. (They're usually techno-copians.)

I think that it is impossible to replace sunlight stored for 100 to 500 million years ( oil ) with sunlight stored during the course of one year. Powering down seems to be vital. However, we are going to need other forms of energy. I think ethanol should be one of them. It´s a good fuel ( about 125 octane )is reasonably carbon neutral, and it is possible to grow it sustainably. Farmers years ago produced ethanol from spoiled or unmarketable crops. Food vs fuel is a bogus argument when you consider how many could starve if there are no replacements for petroleum. We have to stop looking for the one energy product that is going to get us out of this mess and realize that we are going to need many diffuse ones.

" it is possible to grow it sustainably"

How ?

Where did this come from ? A link please

You might want to start by googling organic agriculture. From there a good site to start from might be

Evidence that organic agriculture can sustainably produce significant amounts of biofuels is lacking and far from conclusive. (This excepts areas that can grow sugar-cane.) As someone who has spend the last few years studying and practicing organic agriculture, I strongly suspect that it can't be done.

For food crops, where complicated crop rotations can be used, organic agriculture can produce on levels comparable to conventional agriculture, but bio-fuels are a completely different beast. Bio-fuels can be produced sustainably or in significant quantities, but not both.

I've argued for some time now that it is quite feasible for farmers to grow a small amount of oilseed (maybe 5% of total cultivated acreage), and press it themselves to provide them with something to fuel their diesel equipment. This is no silver bullet, but it can work as an alternative technology approach to enable some agricultural mechanization to carry on.

I think an organic farmer can sustainably grow his own fuel. Perhaps a bit more can be produced for sale or barter locally. The thing plants do best is make sugars and starches. These are the base ingredients for ethanol. Bushes like jatropha can be planted as living fences and provide oilseeds for biodiesel. There are some size limits based on amount of labor and its cost. That seems to be the tradeoff. An individual can only farm so much land sustainably. It takes considerable knowledge and skill. Its being done already. We need more organic farmers.

"I think that it is impossible to replace sunlight stored for 100 to 500 million years ( oil ) with sunlight stored during the course of one year. Powering down seems to be vital. "

It's important to realize that the process by which oil was created and stored for our eventual consumption was incredibly inefficient, perhaps .000000000001% efficient.

The world is bathed in 100,000TW of sunshine every second, and we only use the equivalent about 4TW.

¨It's important to realize that the process by which oil was created and stored for our eventual consumption was incredibly inefficient, perhaps .000000000001% efficient.¨

Interesting number. Since no one was around back when oil formed speculating on efficiency is kind of risky.

We might get 100,000 TW of sunshine every second but until someone can figure out how to harness and store it better than plants with less embedded energy than solar panels we still have a problem.

" Since no one was around back when oil formed speculating on efficiency is kind of risky."

Well, it's pretty straightforward. If all of our analysis on TOD is to trusted, we have a pretty good idea how much reoverable oil is in the ground. Just divide the energy in the sunshine that fell over millions of years into the energy in the oil, and you have your number. And, it's a pretty low number.

" until someone can figure out how to harness and store it better than plants with less embedded energy than solar panels we still have a problem."

Not really. Even the most energy-intensive silicon panels pay back their embedded energy in a year or two, and the CIGS panels like Nanosolar's pay back in a few months.

So it is now possible to make silicon panels with energy not derived from fossil fuel. That is something I was not aware of.

Man is it ever tiresome to continually have to refute this argument.

How do you make solar panels (or any other kind of equipment) without energy derived from fossil fuels?

Do it in Quebec or Iceland or Brasil or any of the other places that get a significant chunk of their electric power from renewable non-fossil sources.

This won't just STOP even if we run out of fossil fuel tomorrow.
Jay Hansen is WRONG.

"mandates 36 billion gallons by 2022, with 21 billion gallons coming from so-called cellulosic ethanol."

They could simply legislate the end of the 2nd law of thermodynamics and be done with that...

The 21 billion gallons from cellulosic ethanol will never happen for several reasons. As pointed out the first is that the technology to commercially manufacture it does not exist. When farmers started making ethanol big time from corn in the 1980's, the technology was centuries old. Secondly the market for the raw cellulose in what ever form contemplated does not exist. The market for corn did exist with all the benefits of hedging and usefulness in financial planning. Thirdly cellulosic raw material are very bulky by nature, making storage problematic. Corn is stored in bins that have been constructed over the last 50 or more years. There are still problems at harvest in finding storage now. Raw materials for ethanol plants can not simply be left outside because bacteria start to decay the product. This interferes with the bacteria used to make the ethanol causing major problems in the plant. Even in Brazil, if I'm not mistaken, the sugar used for ethanol is stored indoors after being extracted from the cane. Fourthly cellulosic raw materials will be highly labor and energy intensive due to undeveloped infrastructure. The infrastructure (equipment, storage and workers etc.) will not be developed without a market. So the first ethanol plants will have to not only create a new technology but also a new market for the raw material used. All this has to be done while facing stiff, well established market competition from corn ethanol and of course the anti ethanol big oil lobby. As I see it, corn ethanol producers and big oil know this stuff. The 21 billion cellulosic ethanol mandate is a sop thrown to the anti corn crowd to placate them and distract their attention from what is really going on. The corn ethanol lobby won big time with a doubling of the mandate for corn ethanol which will bring corn ethanol's production up to near the maximum possible. Beyond that point mitigation of peak oil has to come from a slowing economy, conservation due to higher prices, and unconventional oil and such.

practical - these are excellent insights - I think you're spot on (with exception of big oil being anti corn-ethanol - they probably love it as it increases demand for diesel and natural gas and continues with the liquid fuels infrastructure. In fact, if corn ethanol persists, and cellulosic never lives up to promise, then oil prices will be dramatically higher due to this bill)

What I have been seeing from the one contact I know who is in cellulosic ethanol is that the version that is being persued right now is that from wood, rather than from corn stover or switchgrass or the like, because of the problems you mention. Wood is much easier to transport and store, and there is an established way of marketing it. It seems doubtful to me that there is enough land area to grow all the wood needed - even if marginal land is pushed into service - and wood is harvested after only a few years of growth. The droughts in the Southeast and Southwest will not help the situation.

I agree regarding big oil being anti-ethanol. The largest problem I am aware of is the huge amount of infrastructure that needs to be put in place in advance in order to incorporate more ethanol, whether or not the ethanol really goes on line. This is a big expense that will be wasted (and could have been put to better purposes) if it turns out that the ethanol cannot actually be produced.

"This construction would need to take place ``after this technology is proven to be economically feasible, which it hasn't been.''

if the techonology did prove feasible, there would be a boom in construction because the profits would be enormous.

Cheers Nate!

I agree -- it does seem pretty risky to be putting all the energy eggs into the ethanol basket. Right now, we can produce ethanol from corn, soy beans, and sugar. Corn is the primary feedstock and we won't get anywhere near 36 billion gallons with those three.

So it's a bet on cellulosic -- another unproven technology with long development and phase in times.

In my opinion, this is an energy bill that supports scarcity in the short and long terms. We have some pushes toward efficiency, which is certainly needed and will buy us time. But if we are on the peak/plateau, we'll need a hell of a lot more than just efficiency to get us through. In short, 35 mpg standards for automobiles is a start; phasing out incandescent light bulbs is a start; and incentivizing ethanol without equally incentivizing other options is a risky venture that could become a boondoggle.

Furthermore, in my opinion, continuing subsidies/tax breaks for oil industries is a recipe for disaster. We need to incentivize AWAY from all fossil fuels starting yesterday.

The HUGE loss was the loss of tax breaks for renewables (primarily, solar, wind, water/wave/hydro). Renewables are, in my opinion, a large part of the solution to this problem so long as a smooth and rapid transition to an electric/grid based transportation infrastructure is put in place (electric light rail, plug in electric hybrids, electric cars etc). The removal of tax breaks for renewables at the federal level constitutes a great leap backward from the policy perspective.

In all, the Congress produced a compromise when we needed a revolution. We have marginal gains in the form of efficiency mandates, a HUGE loss in the form of tax breaks for renewables, and the status quo of transferring wealth and power to the major oil companies.

Given the current state of the nation's politics, such a compromise was bound to happen. So right now, as voting citizens, the ball is in our court to continue the power change in this country. We need a leadership structure that will rapidly move us away from our current dependence on fossil fuels through ALL AVAILABLE MEANS with a focus on renewables as the solution -- not as some marginal technology that should forever remain high priced and inaccessible to consumers.

Put a strong magnet next to one of those curly lights, while it's on, dare ya.

Really? What happens? How strong does the magnet have to be?

From the Bill (pg 798)

(7) RENEWABLE ENERGY.—The term ‘renewable energy’ means electric energy generated by a renewable energy resource.

(8) RENEWABLE ENERGY RESOURCE.—The term ‘renewable energy resource’ means solar, wind, ocean, tidal, geothermal energy, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydropower, or hydrokinetic energy.

Other than requiring Federal buildings to use more renewable energy where available, and putting some money towards R&D for solar and geothermal, there is nothing for renewables. No 15%RPS. No tax credits. No-thing.

That will have to wait for another bill, and another Congress. Certainly another President.

So as of 2 weeks ago 300 GW of power from renewable sources (half from wind) was slated to be built in the US. We'll see in a few weeks to months what the number becomes, now that the tax provisions are gone.

Oh, and the tax provisions provided under Bush for the oil/gas industries, they're still there, rest well.

I thought halogens were as energy hungry as tungsten. Am I missing something?! Frankly, I am concerned about the heavy metals and the greenhouse gas fluorides being used within fluorescent light bulbs (and lead I believe) when used on a massive scale. LED's seem the most sustainable option, but even these have nasty chemicals within.

Whilst I reckon its great to ban the old type of bulbs (use them myself) and reckon delay would be daft, has there been a systematic analysis of the environmental impact of this policy? Implications for recycling/disposal, changes needed to avoid pollution at end of use (possibly in terms of product standards) and the seepage of fluorides into the atmosphere over their lifetime, how to ensure that manufacturers don't build in obsolescence as they do with so many products, the issue of poor quality bulbs imported from places like China, issues of manufacture and raw material extraction on the environment and in mining countries.

Frankly, I am concerned about the heavy metals and the greenhouse gas fluorides being used within fluorescent light bulbs (and lead I believe) when used on a massive scale.

I remember mercury being the problem with CFs. They are too easy for people just to throw them away, I wonder if a deposit system would work?

Are there any recycling programs for them?

They are trying to get people to be more aware that you need to recylce these bulbs. I think I saw someone from the NRDC saying that these bubles with mercury in them save energy so more mercury is saved from not using as much power(less power plant emissions) than is used in the bulbs themselves.

That's only an issue with coal. I know that mercury is present in coal but I have never heard an analysis of how much mercury is emitted from a coal plant compared to what would enter the atmosphere from however many of these bulbs. I converted a number of incandescent bulbs to fluorescent a few years ago. None of them lasted a whole year. Between that, the cost and the mercury I decided to wait for the next technology. Here it is: a government mandate.

Madness prevails.

I believe coal on average has about 0.5 ppm mercury. The doesn´t sound like much but we and the Chinese burn a great deal of coal so the multipler is very high. If I recall correctly, the U.S. puts about 1 to 2 million tons of mercury vapor into the atmosphere each year from coal burning. We have been doing so for at least the past 20 years.

except that it is dispersed, whereas the landfill pollution from bulbs is concentrated

Landfills are somewhat contained. Dispersal by air allows access to lungs and the food chain. I´d rather have the 2 million tons in a landfill. It had a smaller impact footprint.

Newer, cheaper, CFLs made by slave labour have reliability issues. The ones I bought >6 years ago when I was paying $20 each (and they were worth it then) are still going. But newer ones at 1/10 the price are much less reliable (rated at 6,000 hours and not 10,000 hours - I've seen issues with them running hot and turning the plastic hot).

I also upgraded my T12 fluorescent to T8 and that's a no-brainer fluorescent upgrade. Note that T8's were replaced by T5's quite a while ago but I'm not sure why - I've not seen evidence of signif. energy savings (CFL's are actually T5 technology).

All fluorescent technology does best if it's not cycled on and off - put it in the areas where your lights get turned on and left on for hours.

In the end I think that CFL's will be a transient technology as LEDs and OLEDs will likely take over when they become more efficient and enter mass production - perhaps in a few years (unless you're one of those people stuck with a home littered with recessed halagon bulbs)

I've already got a box going to accumulate my burnt out CFLs, assuming that a safe recycling collection program will be set up soon. Everyone should do the same.

(And yes, they DO burn out. Since I've converted almost everything in my house to CFLs about 18 months ago, I've had to replace several already. While they do last longer than incandescents, take that "lasts ten times longer" with a big grain of salt.)

For any electronic tinkerers out there, I would remind you that there is often a mini "gold mine" of electronic parts in the plastic base of those screw-in CFL's.

You will find an assortment of diodes, including a trigger diode, two hefty high voltage switching transistors ( or if you are lucky - MOSFETS ), a little ferrite core wound as a regenerative oscillator base driver for the transistors, an inductor for the lamp drive, and a motley assortment of resistors and capacitors. I have built many "toys" from the innards of these as well as junked computer power supplies.

These parts would have cost me a handful of moola if I had ordered them from the parts catalog. Although many of the parts are not marked with industry standard numbers, its pretty obvious by how they were used as to what part they are equivalent to.

Our county, and I expect many others, has a program to collect household hazardous waste. Things like oil based paint, bug spray, used motor oil, that sort of stuff. I have taken burned out CF bulbs in at the same time I bring in other stuff, and they are more than happy to take them.

Some counties have collection sites set up once or twice a year, but ours also has a place where you can drop things off twice a week.

Poor quality bulbs (CFLs) are already in place. I have yet to have one last 2-3 years let alone the 7-8 that is touted on the boxes that line the shelves at Wal-Mart. I am all for new technology, but there needs to be better quality in the CFLs before I am really sold on them as the "lifesaver" they are suppose to be. LEDs? Now, that may be a better story. I certainly hope so. John


That has been my experience, too. I have CFLs in every fixture that will take them, as well as over two heavily-planted fishtanks. They don't last nearly as long as claimed. Perhaps because I live in an old building, which shakes when someone slams the door, and doesn't have the best electrical wiring.

I have an older style lamp, It's been my front porch light for over 7 years now.

I have one older one I bought in 1992 that was made in Japan.

I turn it one when the clocks change in the fall, and turn it off when the clocks change in the spring.

Still works.

I've had a few burning (flourescing?) for over 2 years without issues. Most of mine run 4h/day. Keep in mind, they don't like being turned on/off, and they need ventilation. Most state that they can't be used in recessed lighting.

So, if I want my bulbs to last longer, I should not turn them off? o_O

That's exactly the experience I had. The CFLs that are left on tend last the longest. The ones I have to replace are the ones I keep turning off.

I have one in a porch light that I think has been on continuously for two years. I have short tube fluorescents in a bathroom mirror that have been on most of the time for the last seven years, and the bulbs themselves are at least 15 years old. The desk lamps and room lights with CFLs that get switched on and off have to be replaced every 6 to 12 mos.

Holy Jevon's Paradox. That doesn't bode well for conservation.

Our lights have been in for at least a year and there are no problems so far. the best thing is they are more durable than the old lights. the old lights if you knock the lamp they can break. I've broken 2 or 3 of the old bulbs per year like that.

Agree. I have seen a really, really wide range in CFL life, from over ten years, (I think) and still going, to kaput within two months of normal use. Even though the average seems pretty good, one ends up with a lot of dead bulbs quickly.

Even the better brands of CFL's have a very high failure rate. I've had one out of ten Phillips CFL's fail right out of the package. Try to take one back to Home Despot. When they last, they last for years; when they fail they go very soon.

Hi Bruce,

I've had exceptionally good luck with the original version of Philips Marathon (i.e., the one with the three bent tubes as opposed to the more common swirl). In fact, I've come to the conclusion that there's nothing you can do to kill these lamps short of smashing them on the ground. I have six I bought twelve years ago that have logged more than 20,000 hours each and they're still going strong, except that the phosphorus coating has darkened considerably and they've grown noticeably dimmer over time.


I've been switching over everything I could starting 5 years ago. And only reading this thread has made me think about how long they are really lasting. One original burned out from a generator low voltage problem during a power outage. Others have burned out, and the plastic looks like almost a literal burn. It was blackened and the hole around the base of the tube was bigger. But I replaced it with another.
I've also switched my 3 way lamps over with 3 way CFL. I think I'm at 2 years on those.
I have a new bathroom fixture, which was hard to find one that was either designated Flour. or could fit CFL without that twirly bulb sticking out at you. That was only 6 months ago, and one of the 3 lights starts much dimmer but catches up in a minute or two. Also, the bulbs themselves, slide in, not screw in, are browning on the plastic base. The fixture was "made in china" and I really want to switch it out because the quality obviously isn't there. Purchased at Lowes also, which even the local hardware store I'm hard pressed to get away from Chinese products.

...I'm hard pressed to get away from Chinese products.

It seems that virtually all CFLs are imported from China but I know my Philips SLS25s were made in Mexico -- whether that's still the case, I can't say.


I bought a bunch of CFLs from Home Depot about a year ago, and so far I haven't had any failures.

The color seems to be pretty good too. If you get the "warm white", bulbs, and put them next to a regular incandescent bulb, it is hard for me to tell the difference based on the color of the light (the ones we are using are in a floodlight housing, so when they are on it is hard to tell whether it is a CFL or an incandescent).

My mom bought some at Walgreens (don't remember the brand), and they toasted pretty quickly.

I guess my suggestion is that if you are having trouble with one brand, then try a different one.

Generally speaking, if you stick with any of the "big three" -- GE, Philips and Osram-Sylvania -- you'll probably do ok. Beyond that, any CFL that is EnergyStar certified must satisfy specific quality standards including lamp longevity.

For more information on the EnergyStar certification criteria, please see:


My town switched it's Christmas display lights from regular christmas bulbs to all LED. the new lights cost $1,000. the electricity bill each year was $2,000. Two-thousand dollars! the new electricity bill is less than $50. they did it as a combination of trying to combat global warming and saving money. they are saving alot of carbon emissions. global warming might be Peak Oil's best friend. this just shows what we can do now and how we're already preparing for peak oil. maybe kunstler's book should be called The Long Transition? the transition is already starting(in part due to global warming), not to mention the infrastructure we already have like rails and canals. the Erie Canal is mostly used right now for recreation.

Hi John, The Peak Oil crisis is worse than Kunstler's "The Long Emergency," -- it is a permanent catastrophe. This paper examines scientific and government studies in order to provide reliable conclusions about Peak Oil and its future impacts. Independent studies indicate that global oil production peaked in 2006 (or will peak within a few years) and will decline until all recoverable oil is depleted within several decades. Because global oil demand is increasing, declining production will soon generate high energy prices, inflation, unemployment, and irreversible economic depression. Regardless of the time available for mitigating Peak Oil impacts, alternative sources of energy will replace only a small fraction of the gap between declining production and increasing demand. Because oil under girds the world economy, oil depletion will result in global economic collapse and population decline. As oil exporting nations experience both declining oil production and increased domestic oil consumption, they will reduce oil exports to the U.S. Because the U.S. is highly dependent on imported oil for transportation, food production, industry, and residential heating, the nation will experience the impacts of declining oil supplies sooner and more severely than much of the world. North American natural gas production has peaked, importation of natural gas is limited, and the U.S. faces shortages of natural gas within a few years. These shortages threaten residential heating supplies, industrial production, electric power generation, and fertilizer production. Because U.S. coal production peaked in 2002 (in terms of energy provided by coal), the U.S. will experience significantly higher coal and electric prices in future years. The U.S. government is unprepared for the multiple consequences of Peak Oil, Peak Natural Gas, and Peak Coal. Multiple crises will cripple the nation in a gridlock of ever-worsening problems. Within a few decades, the U.S. will lack car, truck, air, and rail transportation, as well as mechanized farming, adequate food and water supplies, electric power, sanitation, home heating, hospital care, and government services.

"Because global oil demand is increasing, declining production will soon generate high energy prices, inflation, unemployment, and irreversible economic depression."

that doesn't sound like an economy that will use a lot of oil. the more gloom and doom you are the more you are actually making a case for getting out of peak oil. much higher oil prices means lots of conservation and demand destruction. not to mention more income going towards paying for higher oil prices is offset with less consumption and therefore less oil used where it is not needed. $1,000 more towards oil costs means oil is not used somewhere to produce and ship(and heat the stores and drive the employees to work, you get the idea)a good(or goods) that you would then drive home with.

"gap between declining production and increasing demand"

"oil depletion will result in global economic collapse and population decline"

demand destruction will take care of that, but you are right that the US will feel the effects because it uses so much oil. a population collapse and economic collapse will result in an economy that uses less oil.

"Because oil under girds the world economy"

it only does that because it's cheaper than what it substituted for. when it isn't as cheap anymore, we go back to the old way and consume less because of higher prices.

The more doom and gloom people are the more they are guaranteeing the switch to PHEV, EV, solar wind and some unknown technology because the savings would be enormous. throw in economies of scale and there is a lot of hope.

economies of scale.....thats what keeps me from bing an optimist. The amount of energy we need to make the transition

Our building at work switched all of the "EXIT" signs from incandescent to LED. They claimed the same thing - that the old cost was about 2000$/year, and the new cost would be something like 50$.

I beleive the current generation of CFLs only have a few milligrams of mercury in them. Compared to the hundreds of pounds of coal not burned (per bulb) that is actually small potatoes. This doesn't mean you shouldn't recycle them. I take mine to OrchardSupply, and they give me discount coupons for new bulbs. I think most hardware, and home supply stores will take in your old bulbs.

I woulda prefered a tax on the old bulbs, cross subsidizing the new efficient ones. The older bulbs probably still make sense in applications where they are very rarely on (like say the broom closet). LEDs are still a bit pricy, they are the natural choice for low power applications (automotive, flashlights, etc.), and locations where bulbs are hard to replace. Prices are coming down, it is quite likely that the CFL you buy today will be replaced when it fails by a LED.

Don't count tungsten out completely. There is research in changing the crystalline structure of tungsten, so it emits mostly in the visable range. If that can be pulled off, thermal emission could be very efficient.

Agreed - although I have done all I think I can reasonably do to use high efficiency lighting, here are some exceptions.

The Bathroom. High humidity. Everything in there gets wet with condensation. Really bad news for the circuit boards in CFL's. I need the heat emitted by the inefficient incandescents to keep moisture from condensing in the lamp fixture. Also, exposure to electronic circuitry is minimized by the lamp design. Its 40 watts and is on maybe two hours a day - switched frequently.

The Oven. High ambient heat.

The Microwave. High ambient heat. Exposure to microwave energy.

The Refrigerator. Switched frequently. Would like to see integral sealed LED illumination. as "flash condensation" when the door is opened and warm humid air hits the cold surface will be a problem.

Outside security. Need instant ON. Rarely used, as I have fluorescent for ambient illumination, but if I want 10KW of light RIGHT NOW, I will use the halogen array. I suppose the array gets a total use of one hour per year, with three or four minutes of ON time per use.

Everything has separate optimal solutions. There is no "one size fits all". Incandescent still has a place in my life, but the other technologies do too. All of my "bulk" lighting is fluorescent, whereas most of my "decorative" lighting is LED. All my flashights are LED ( change motivated by reliability, brightness, and battery life ).

May well be true. LED performance has been improving at a staggering rate the past year or so.

A few months ago, I saw the first 60-watt bulb replacement that had a standard Edison socket. Supposedly used 8 watts of electricity. This wasn't a product in a catalog, but I believe an engineering prototype that somehow escaped into the wild, and ended up at a trade show :-).

The cool white LEDs have the highest efficiency. Warm white is somewhat lower, but they are available.

Unfortunately, the CRI (colour rendering index) for most LEDs fall below that of CFLs so colour distortion can be a problem, especially in residential applications. Whereas incandescent and halogen lamps register at 98 or higher and most conventional CFLs fall in the range of 82 to 86, many LEDs are rated in the low 70s. While this is open to debate, anything less than 80 is likely to be unacceptable in the general marketplace.

I use CFLs throughout my home for several good reasons but, frankly, I dislike the way they distort colours and make everything look flat and dull. More recently, I've been reverting back to halogen IR lamps (MR16 and PAR38) and, increasingly, ceramic metal halide (CRI=90).


The warm white leds seem to have CRI values in the 90's somewhere:

LLF reports 113.6 lm/W from warm-white LED lamp

29 Nov 2007
LED Lighting Fixtures Inc has built a prototype LED-based PAR 38 lamp that produces 659 lm from 5.8 watts of wall-plug power, with CCT of 2760 K and CRI of 91.2.
At the White LEDs-07 conference in Japan last week, Tony van de Ven of LED Lighting Fixtures, Inc. (LLF) announced a new performance milestone for a prototype LED luminaire, which smashes existing records.

LLF built a prototype PAR 38 self-ballasted lamp, which was tested under steady-state conditions by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Washington, DC.

The LRP-38 lamp set a new standard for energy efficient lighting by producing 659 lumens at a mere 5.8 watts of wall-plug power, resulting in 113.6 delivered lumens per watt.

The lamp emitted a warm incandescent-like color of 2760 Kelvin with a superb color rendering index of 91.2.

Now this is labelled a prototype, but manufacturers seem to be able to bring these things to the market relatively quickly (in the order of a year or two).

The cool-white LEDs have CRI that isn't very good. The headlights for my bicycle fall into this category, but for the purposes of headlights, I don't care that much about the color of the light.

It looks like an interesting development and certainly a CRI of 92 is a major step forward.

For a sense of what's available in the commercial marketplace now, see:

Note that the rated service life of this LED lamp is 15,000 hours, total lumen output is anywhere from 24 to 27 lumens (for an efficacy of less than 10 lumens per watt) and that the CRI falls somewhere in the 70s.

By comparison, a 45-watt Philips MR16 IR is rated at 5,000 hours, produces up to 1,180 lumens (45X brighter), has an efficacy of 26.2 lumens per watt and a CRI of 100. I'm not sure how much these Osram LED lamps sell for, but I've been buying the Philips halogen IRs on ebay for as little as $3.00 each.


Ethanol = a net loss of energy, a waste of natural gas and oil, a waste of food, depleted soil, increased CO2, and pollution of various sorts. It is not a green option.

Chris Shaw: "In the (alas, too few) years to come, we will see great argument over the proper allocation of dwindling oil reserves. It will be realised that other sources of energy cannot deliver sufficient surpluses to replace the potent portable energy we know as gasoline and diesel. It is not generally understood that poorer quality energy sources can be critically dependent on oil for their extraction, processing and distribution. In other words, oil is the precursor for other sources of energy; gas, coal, nuclear, solar, hydro, because these require oil fuel to create and maintain infrastructure. It also gives them the illusion of being profitable."

"Ethanol = a net loss of energy" Well, sure. It aso means we will be starving people to gas up our cars, too. If the bill were not a boondoggle, it never would have been passed. I am just surprised it has ANY good provisions.

Remember (following Orlov): Boondoggles help you prepare for collapse in advance. If things actually WORK, you tend to get blind-sided when they fail.

I actually don't like the fact that Bush signed the bill. He is certainly in a position to know more about the worlds energy supply than we are. Its now a pretty sure bet that KSA is full of crap.

Seems KSA's 'crap reserve' figures are due for the doubling that their oil reserves got 20 yrs ago..

People are largely risk aversive and to support that assertion consider how much time and money we all spend of things that will protect us and remove uncertainty. All kinds of insurance is sold. Locks. AAA memberships, redundant digital data protection, over-engineered vehicles and structures, better weather forecasting, auto alarms, police and fire departments and on and on. We want to minimize risks.

How will the various parts of society react if we know, finally really know, that the amount of gasoline available today will always be less than what was available yesterday. Will new subdivisions be built, airplane fleets expanded, new cars bought, more cruise ships launched, trips to far away places planned. Will banks lend money for these things.
I don't think that the availability of gasoline needs to be substantially less to cause a huge cascade of events. I think that the simple knowledge that the supply is uncertain can land a good one on the economy.
So I think the plan is to maintain the fiction of plentiful supply of some kind of fuel for as long as possible. What the plan is after the jig is up, I don't know.

Leanan -

The pdf link for H.R. 6 is the House energy bill, but not the one passed by the Senate or signed into law by the monkey at the top of the heap.

So at the least, ignore pgs 794 and onward of the pdf, you know, the one establishing a 15% RPS, and provide tax credits for solar and wind.

The GPO has not apparently printed the law online yet.

That must be why the Thomas link doesn't work.

I guess they can't put it online until it's printed, and they make a PDF from the hard copy.

Our government at work...

Mexico, the third largest importer to the USA has passed peak and well before 2020 will be exporting zero to the USA. Add in the continuation of the decline in domestic US production, the probability that Saudi, has or will peak imminently, then by 2020 mileage efficiency will be inconsequential, especially considering the long period of time that older cars stay on the road. And don't forget the continuing deterioration of EROEI at 3.5% per annum. We will be exceptionally lucky if we have half the oil to use in 2020 as compared to today.

As far as corn ethanol, what I have seen is it only returns at best 6% on energy invested whereas oil returns currently 500%. That means that for every 500 vehicles on the road now, by substituting ethanol, we can keep 6 of them running. Whoop-tee-do! And wood chips to ethanol; even if this dreamed of technology can be worked out will it even produce a 6% return.

Anyone, who thinks this is anything but another Katrina like performance by the incompetent institution we call government, is living in an advanced state of denial. So more of the valuable remaining resources go down the drain which just might have otherwise found their way into some free market solution, or at least remained in the pockets of those plundered by the government taxes and inflation so as to go toward personal solutions.

You have just been delivered a yet another placebo sugar pill so I suppose maybe some of you will imagine the disease has been cured. For the rest of us maybe we can manage to laugh at the absurdity of it all, that is, as an alternative to crying.

Please don't write your representative, it will only encourage them to make an even bigger mess.

"then by 2020 mileage efficiency will be inconsequential, especially considering the long period of time that older cars stay on the road."

Not in the face of rising oil prices. the car will either be sold for scrap which will be pretty expensive and therefore worth it versus trying to fill it with expensive gas. if gas prices rise high enough replacing a 20 mpg car will be like replacing your furnance- it will pay for itself. or you could take out the motor and make your car an EV, as hopefully the technology will be great by 2020.

Hi John,

You should read the basic scientific literature on Peak Oil. It is 40 pages, but you would learn a lot. The people on this site should not have to work to give you a basic education on Peak Oil, you should be responsible and learn yourself.

I've read alot and listened to a lot of interviews on PO. an economic collapse isn't going to use a lot of energy. if peak oil is really upon us we're looking at something between the inflationary 1970s and a mild hyperflationary event(something between Argentina in the early part of the decade and present-day Zimbabwe.

cjwirth told John,

"You should read the basic scientific literature on Peak Oil. It is 40 pages, but you would learn a lot."

One would suggest that that cjwirth would do likewise, and ask what 40 pages is being referred to? By what writer (s)?

To give you an idea of how completely insane things have gotten, articles in the popular media are now referring to Richard Heinberg as "one of the world's foremost authorities on oil reserves." (!!!!!)

Such idiocy caused a financial advisor recently to say "It's alarmist crap." when asked about peak oil.

The hysterics in the PO movement are creating an environment where those who discuss the very real need for concern and action on oil and gas consumption and waste to be dismissed as nutcases.

Thank you for your contribution to the cause, cj.


The 40 pages in the the post above:

It is not about hysteria, but what is happening in reality, according to the best scientific studies.

Retired geologist Colin Campbell (Texaco, BP, Amoco) cautioned:

"Throughout history, people have had difficulty in distinguishing reality from illusion. Reality is what happens, whereas illusion is what we would like to happen. Wishful thinking is a well-worn expression. Momentum is still another element: we tend to assume that things keep moving in the same direction.

The world now faces a discontinuity of historic proportions, as nature shows her hand by imposing a new energy reality. There are vested interests on all sides hoping somehow to evade the iron grip of oil depletion, or at least to put it off until after the next election or until they can develop some strategy for their personal or corporate survival. As the moment of truth approaches, so does the heat, the deceptions, the half-truth and the flat out lies."

Would you be so kind as to let me know where you found the 6% figure for ethanol and the 500% figure for oil? Here is a source for what I consider to be the top study on ethanol. He gets an 8 to 1 ratio ( 800% ? ) but derived from sugar cane not corn. BTW this gentleman even includes the energy needed to make the tractors.

Isaias de Carvalho Macedo, "Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy
Balances in Bio-Ethanol Production and Utilization in Brazil," Biomass and
Bioenergy 14:1 (1998), 77-81.

If you would like a rebuttal to Pimentel and Patzac´s rather dubious arithmatic I have one. Both of these guys have been funded by the American Petroleum Institute. That kind of sheds some doubt on their ability to be unbiased when talking about renewable energy

On the question of the 500% current return oil I based this on the work done by Hall and Cleveland. Here is reference to a presentation they did based on their study, but I can't locate the actual study at this moment.

Essentially they recognized that the EROEI for oil has been declining at a rate of 3.5% since 1930 when it was 100 to 1; it halved ever 20 years. I constructed a table to estimate where we would be today on this progression and we are at roughly about 6 to 1. Some have speculated that the curve is more complex than a simple compounding 3.5% rate, even though that curve fits the known data up till now. It is possible that the situation could be worse, but not likely better were an alternative formula for fitting a curve to the data to be used. For purposes of this discussion, I used the more optimistic 6 to 1.

Simply if you invest 1 barrel of oil and get back 6 you have gained 5 for your 1 barrel invested. This is a 500% return (5/1). Compare this to investing 1 and getting back 1.3 which yields a return of 30% (.3/1). Compare this to investing 1 and getting back 1.06 which yields a 6% return (.06/1).

As far as using 6% to represent the return for corn ethanol, I have used this willy nilly. I have seen studies claiming an actual loss and seen studies claiming a 1.3 to 1 return. I simply used the 6% to emphasize the point but even using 1.3 to 1 gives us 30 vehicles on the road compared to 500 now. What would be the difference between estimating 6% or 30% for corn ethanol return? I think little.

I have seen the 8 to 1 figure you reference for cane ethanol. While I agree that cane ethanol grown in tropical climates has a better return than corn ethanol, I suspect that the 8 to 1 figure is very much over stated. Putting that aside, the US could not follow this model because of climatic constraints as discussed here:

The approach of the US government to this problem reminds me of Hitler's strategic blunder at the battle of Stalingrad. He just kept throwing his resources into what clearly was not working until everything was lost.

We are very, very late in this game. One of the interesting things about looking at the declining EROEI (at the experienced 3.5% rate) for oil is that the early declines were hardly noticeable. Consider this little table of doubling of cost (halving of EROEI) every 20 years:

1930 100 to 1 Cost to get 100 barrels = 1 Available 99
1950 50 to 1 Cost to get 100 barrels = 2 Available 98
1970 25 to 1 Cost to get 100 barrels = 4 Available 96
1990 12.5 to 1 Cost to get 100 barrels = 8 Available 92
2010 6.25 to 1 Cost to get 100 barrels =16 Available 84
2030 3.13 to 1 Cost to get 100 barrels =32 Available 68
2050 1.56 to 1 Cost to get 100 barrels =64 Available 36
2070 .78 to 1 Cost to get 100 barrels exceeds barrels returned.

When we went from 1930 to 1950 who would have noticed the disappearance of 1 barrel out of every 100. The reason we are at the end of cheap oil, as the oil companies say, is because we are now at a point in the declining EROEI curve where doubling of cost is starting to get noticeable. The doubling between 2010 and 2030 will result in a loss of 16 barrels out of every 100 produced and the doubling between 2030 and 2050 will result in the loss of 32 barrels out of every 100. The deterioration of EROEI for oil is a far worse problem than peak oil itself. You can never use more oil to get oil than you get (EROEI cannot go negative).

This is why it is so absurd to think that we can replace the current 6 to 1 EROEI oil with 1.06 to 1 or even 1.3 to 1 corn ethanol. Even if Brazil does get 8 to 1 which I have trouble believing, would that solve our energy independence problem? How much could the tropics possibly produce, and if it were really possible to get 8 to 1 return don't you think that the international oil industry or ethanol industry would be down there building ethanol plants and planting sugar cane like it was going out of style rather than drilling down 30,000 feet down into the ocean at huge expense and risk. Something just does not add up.

If the US government needed to and still needs to subsidize and mandate ethanol, don't you think that tells you something about its true economic viability. It it really worked there would be not need to force businesses to manufacture it or people to use it.

My first question after reading the powerpoint is are we talking the same thing. The study I mentioned gave an 8 to 1 for ethanol from sugar cane. This study seems to be saying 100 to 1 then dropping to 18 to 1. Are these numbers to get oil out of the ground or gas into the tank?

Second, I will try to find a link to the paper I mentioned. I do not think the 8 to 1 ratio is very much overstated. But let us just say it is. Suppose it is 4 to 1. When the petroleum reaches 1 to 1 you are going to need a substitute, likely many substitutes.

Third, I have a difficult time believing the 6 % value for corn ethanol. Granted corn is not the best crop for ethanol. I would probably use sweet sorghum. It has less imput for greater yield. I´d probably also rotate a legume and follow that with sugar beets. The point is there are integrations that can be done on the farm to optimize EROI. We may have seen the same studies. I have seen both the small and the negative EROI for corn. I think they are wrong. Here is an instance. Field corn (maize) can be used to both make ethanol and feed cattle. You can grind it into human food but most of the corn in the U.S. goes to feed cattle. If you feed cattle the corn, they don´t get most the energy out of it. If you make ethanol from the corn and then feed the cattle the distilled mash you get both ethanol and feed.

No I do not think that International oil or ethanol could get into Brazil. Both oil and ethanol are state run. They are not allowed in.

I don´t think the government should subsidise ethanol. I also don´t think they should subsidise petroleum, coal, natural gas or mining. But if they are going to subsidise something don´t you think it should be sustaiable? Oh, and I believe at the worst ethanol will be carbon neutral and probably will be beneficial. Go sorgham!

The powerpoint presentation relates to oil, not ethanol. I referenced it because you ask me how I arrived at a 500% current return for oil. The EROEI idea in the study is I think meant to include all energy necessary to get back one barrel of oil including exploration, drilling, pumping, delivery, refining, etc.

On the issue of the return on corn ethanol, it is true that David Pemintel may have been bias by his funding when he concluded that corn ethanol is a net user of energy. He supposedly has been refuted by other studies, one of which concluded that the return was 1.37 to 1. This refutation was paid for by the corn and ethanol industry so it has the opposite bias. Like I said, even the more optimistic study for corn ethanol shows it is marginal. So what is the difference if we can keep 6, 30, or 37 vehicles running compared to the 500 that oil can currently keep running? I don't think that will keep the tractors running or the delivery trucks arriving at supermarkets?

I understood that the presentation was on oil. It just was not clear what all was included. There was a slide that had a mix of oil drilling, oil exploration, etc. as separate activities and some question marks. It was difficult to interpret without the presentation notes.

I see the dreaded David Pimentel study has cropped up again. That study was torn up pretty badly, not from his funding but from the less than rigorous science and math that he used. Just one instance is the figures he used for the embedded energy of farm equipment. He chose about 20 tons of tractor and farm equipment for about 81 acres of farm. That much equipment can be used on about 2000 acres. Of course he may be forgiven as he was rather far afield from his background in entomology.

I have not seen the 1.37 to 1 study. But I think we both realize that there will be nothing that will adequately replace oil. But we do have to find some fuels to use. Ethanol makes some sense to me as a partial solution to the liquid fuel problem. I don´t want a coal based solution. There are not many other options.

"Even if Brazil does get 8 to 1 which I have trouble believing, would that solve our energy independence problem? How much could the tropics possibly produce, and if it were really possible to get 8 to 1 return don't you think that the international oil industry or ethanol industry would be down there building ethanol plants and planting sugar cane like it was going out of style rather than drilling down 30,000 feet down into the ocean at huge expense and risk. Something just does not add up."

A lot of things don't add up! Like subsidizing corn based ethanol production in Iowa.

I was born in Brazil and was driving 100% ethanol powered vehicles back in the 80's
Sugarcane based ethanol from Brazil most certainly will not solve the global energy crisis but it certainly can be a part of the solution. BTW I saw some studies on making ethanol from orange peels and pulp, sorry I can't find the link.

Here is some information on Brazilian Sugarcane EROEI:

•EROEI -Energy Returned On Energy Invested
•Ethanol from conventional chemical sugar cane:
•Minimum = 8.3 : 1 Average: 9.2 : 1 Best: 11 : 1
•Ethanol from organic sugar cane:
•Minimum = 11 : 1 Average: 12.2 : 1 Best: 13.1 : 1

I think you overstate the severity of the situation. That is not to say that the bill isn't grossly inadequate to the task. Your outrage is justified. Nearly everyone one on this site believes that only very aggressive action can mitigate the damage to come. If we are not at peak, but at the beginning of a 10-20year plataeu, as I think is more likely we can probably skate by. Of course the percentage of world GDP and wealth in this country will be in steaper decline than it would have been the case is we had had real leadership. But then thats what happens to a species which is less intellifgent than yeast!

people say the grid can't support EVs or PHEVs. suppose we did charge a lot of cars during the day. this would cause electricity prices to rise and spark conservation. if I need to use electricity and it's expensive I will unplug my fridge, my electricity guzzling plasma tv and anything else to charge up my car inexpensively for a few hours. if I car pooled(highly likely in a PO scenario) a Prius full with passengers(who kick in gas or barter with food from a PO garden to help me out) gets 236 mpg. an EV1 at max occupancy gets(or got) 400 mpg.

Actually, if we are going to install PV arrays anywhere, I think it would make very good sense to errect them over parking lots. then, people could plug in their EVs and PHEVs to recharge during the day, avoiding the need to plug into the grid at all.

Lots of people are bothered about the fact that solar energy is only available during the day, and about how expensive batteries are, where to find space for the PVs, etc. This would be an elegant solution. The batteries will already be in place in the vehicles, otherwise just sitting there, parking lots are perfect sites for PVs - what could possibly be wrong with it?

Furthermore, these could be designed so that an EV or PHEV parks underneath a PV pannel, which effectively would become a roof over the vehicle. No snow to scrape off during the winter, not hot car in the summer! What a great deal!

Now do the math: if a car is charged by a PV panel of the size of a parking spot, for 8 hours, how far can it then drive?

Q&D estimate: assume 10 square meters and 10% efficiency, and full direct sun, that's about 1 KW so 8 KWH. Rather optimistic assumptions, given sun angle varies, cloudy days, etc. So make it 4 KWH. That's roughly 10 HP for 30 minutes, or 60 HP for 5 minutes, assuming no losses in the PV->battery->motor chain. Perhaps OK for a fairly short drive home, say 5 miles.

Current cost for 1KW (peak) installed PV is about $5000. That will currently buy about 1500 gallons of gasoline, which would power a small car for 50,000 miles, or 10,000 times those 5 miles. 10,000 work days is about 40 years - longer than the life of the panels.

It still makes good sense to install PV panels over parking lots. It just needs a grid tie to charge all the EVs therein.

"So make it 4 KWH"

Lets take it from there. EVs run at better than 0.25 kWh/mi (such as AC Propulsion's eBOX), and I'd expect future PHEVs would hit this also. So that's 16 miles per day, not 5 mi, which when then following your numbers gives you simple payback in 12 years.

Factor in CO2 emission reduction credits, NOx reduction credits, SREC credits and you could drop that simple payback in half - 6 years. None of this accounts for PV $/W dropping, or gasoline $/gal increasing.

The EV or PHEV will still be expensive initially, but these prices will drop with volume. I think the whole arrangement is a winner.

Probably best to do backed up by grid power generated from remote wind resources. Works in my book.

"So make it 4 KWH. That's roughly 10 HP for 30 minutes, or 60 HP for 5 minutes, assuming no losses in the PV->battery->motor chain. Perhaps OK for a fairly short drive home, say 5 miles."

A good EV can get 5 miles per kwh, so 4kwh is 20 miles.

20 miles is a little more than the average commute in the US.

"people say the grid can't support EVs or PHEVs. "

Which people? The grid can support conversion of about 3/4 of all light vehicles to EV/PHEV's, with current infrastructure.

I cannot understand why my Congressman, Brian Bilbray of the 50th district of California, voted against the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. I had sent him an email requesting that he support this legislation, and he replied back, "I am a lifelong San Diegan, and an avid outdoorsman, and I understand and appreciate the relationship and impact we have with the environment. That is why I joined 39 of my colleagues in asking for a vote on the House floor to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards." This seem very supportive of the legislation, but when I checked the record, he voted against the bill.

So I sent Mr. Bilbray another email asking him why he didn't vote for the bill. He reminded me, "I believe it is critical that we give our troops the support and resources they need while defending our freedom and liberty around the globe. They can help us prevail in the Global War on Terror, but only if we do not fail them here at home." I think that he's saying that improving automobile fuel economy somehow messes up the whole war on terrorism thing.

I guess we got what we deserved. The previous congressman for the 50th district, Randy "Duke" Cunningham was convicted of being a crook is in now in prison. To replace him, we elected Brian Bilbray, a former lobbyist.

I'm failing to see why you consider Bilbray's vote a bad thing, if indeed as most posters at the TOD have claimed there are some serious flaws in the law

The two biggest issues (for this crowd) seem to be:
1) the continuation and expansion of liquid pork corn ethanol;
2) the loss of tax incentives for various alternative energy sources.

If you'd like a more detailed overview of the specifics of the bill, you can find it here:

I've now replaced all our lights with energy savers. Does anyone know if compact fluorescent bulbs contain a mercury charge to get them to ignite? There was a satirical piece on TV the other day about how to dispose of one should it break. But no one mentioned mercury - Hg.

CFLs here in US use about 5 micrograms of Hg per bulb. I've never heard of Hg igniting - that's a new one to me - but look on line for MSDS for Hg or CFLs to see harzards and precautions.

My wife broke one a while back. We opened the window and closed the door to the room overnight - vapor pressure of Hg is so high that with good air circulation it should be gone in hours.

It's best to collect them. There are organizations and retailers who will take them. Of course we used to do that for batteries.

Of course the monster in the basement is radon, for another post.

Hi Euan,

Philips is the industry leader in the reduction of mercury, at less than 2 mg per lamp in the case of self ballasted CFLs.

In addition, their new line of 32-watt T8 Alto II lamps contain half the mercury of their previous generation of low mercury lamps -- 1.7 mg versus 3.5 -- and the extra long life version of this lamp is rated for 40,000 hours on instant start ballasts. The combination of lower mercury dosing and longer life blows away anything from either GE or Osram-Sylvania.



Up the page on this string, cjwirth posted a link:

Given some of the horrific claims about the future that cjwirth was making concerning peak oil and it's consequences, I thought I should go over and see what this "Peakoilassociates" group was about.

Who is this group? I went to the "About us" tab, and here is what I read:

"We are a group of professionals with diverse backgrounds in academics, energy policy, oil industry, engineering, electric utilities, economic development, applied policy analysis, environmental science, and local, state, and federal government. We are experienced in practical problem-solving, contingency planning, and risk management. We confer with each other on a regular basis to provide the best research and advice for individuals and organizations regarding Peak Oil. We are dedicated to advising individuals and organizations on how to best handle the challenges of Peak Oil."

Well, what more would I need to know? Of course, some names may have been helpful, or perhaps some discussion of exactly what firms or universities these people had a history with in "academics, energy policy, oil industry, engineering, electric utilities, economic development, applied policy analysis, environmental science, and local, state, and federal government" would have given us an idea as to who these folks were....(?)
(It must be said that C J Wirth's own bio on his profile here at TOD is much more inclusive than anything on the "Peak Oil Associates" site, but I was attempting to judge by the site itself, to be fair to anyone who came to it without knowing it's association to Mr. Wirth)

Nothing to do but nose around some more....

The "services" tab was very interesting. This organization provides services!
The first service listed is "Presentations", described as "We give talks, presentations, and speeches on Peak Oil for colleges and universities, businesses, religious organizations, governments, associations, groups, and families. We will tailor presentations to a particular interest."

Also listed as "services" are "Individual Consultation", "Governments and Associations", and advice on "Relocation". Under Individual Consultation we are warned,
"There is much bad advice available about planning for Peak Oil."

At the bottom of the list of "services" we find the most interesting link, called "fees".
"We charge $100.00 per hour ($1.67 per minute) for telephone consultations. General presentations and all day consultations are charged at $1,000.00 per day plus travel expenses. Presentations requiring special research are charged additionally for research at $100.00 per hour. Research, relocations research, and special studies are charged at $100.00 per hour. Relocation arrangements are contracted. We bill by email and accept payment by personal or business check."

Well, granted it's not nearly as much as CERA gets, but then so far I had not seen any names that could measure up to the stature of a Danial Yergin.
On the other hand, I had not seen any names at all.

So I clicked on the"contacts" tab, and found the name of one Clifford Wirth.
So far, the only name I have yet found associated with "Peak Oil Associates".

Now of course, I am not faulting self promotion, several folks here often link back to their own sites, but of course they usually tell us that the site they are sending us to is theirs. And even the stars of the TOD boards such as Robert Rapier and Stuart Staniford or Gail the Actuary do not give us a "fee structure".

So exactly what does the Peak Oil Associates think is going to happen? What are their predictions, their "scenarios"? I can recommend you to no better source than their "Peak Oil Report" which can be downloaded at the site. It is a remarkable collection of statistics and charts. And well it should be....the report is basically a collection of the charts, sources and statistics that have been put forth right here on TOD, free of charge! (Fascinating, considering that Mr. Wirth has been registered here for only 12 weeks)

I mean no insult....I downloaded the report myself. It contains no new information, but it is a great storage place for the collection of the worst case scenarios (but the best charts) that have been posted right here on TOD over the last couple of years.

And I wish Mr. Wirth the best of luck in the rapidly growing cottage industry of "Peak Oil doomerism"....who knows, he may someday be collecting corporate and government money by making presentations, if he were to believe that money would be worth anything in the collapsing world, and that there would be any chance of either governments or corporations surviving. Either way, the dollar may be weak, but Mr. Wirth, like Mr. Yergin, is not turning them down! :-)


I personally tend toward the worst case view for the outcome of our energy problem rather than siding with the optimistic crowd.

For one thing oil importing countries are going to bear the initial burden of decreasing production once peak is actually here. This date cannot be known for certain, but it does look very close. This means that the US particularly will be hurt because of such a high level of imports which will evaporate ratably over a period of only about a decade after peak.

Another thing is the relentless decline in EROEI for oil which is something that seems to have slipped under the radar screen. Even if gross oil production never peaks, the oil age would nevertheless end because eventually more oil would be spent to get oil than the oil we would get, and by eventually I mean mid century.

And here is something else to consider. If something grows at a fairly constant rate, each year the absolute amount of increase is larger than the past year. In the early days of the oil industry, the amount of production added each year, on average, kept getting larger and larger. When we hit peak and the rate of growth turns negative, the exact opposite will occur. After a short plateau, the initial years of production decline will be larger than in later years even thought the rate of decline may be fairly constant. Further consider that when things unravel or disintegrate they generally do so more chaotically than when they integrate.

I think the crisis will be perceived to come out of the blue and be initially devastating. Of course forced conservation will mitigate the early stages somewhat, but this conservation will be carried by the poor first and middle class second, and will quickly go for conservation to deprivation. This is because the way this sudden shrinkage in the economic pie will translate into peoples' lives will be via price increases, which obviously can least be borne by the poor.

Plus once we start to decline, there will not be excess energy to use to invest in alternatives, so by having waited till so late in the game to recognize this problem, alternatives (even marginally viable ones) will probably not even have a chance to be developed for lack of energy to fund the necessary up front cost. Add to this the fact that it looks like we will in our desperation allow (even beg) government to interfere in the energy markets, giving us our energy Katrina since politicians and bureaucrats are no more equipped to manage economic activity (economic disaster) than to manage natural disasters.

What I read at the site you referenced did not seem unreasonable to me.

The top five net exporters, about half of current world net oil exports, for 2006 and 2007 are almost certainly going to show an accelerating net export decline rate, which is what our model and recent case histories suggest.

It looks like net exports from the top five are going to decline at about one mbpd per year for 2006 and 2007. We shall see what happens in 2008, but the current data are within our predicted range, on course for approaching zero net exports in the 2031 time frame.

And your point exactly is that he is a member for only 12 weeks, and seems to have set up a website with a lots of links to TOD?
So what?
From software to religion to marketable products there are innovators who create the software/product, and then there are the marketers of the product. Each cannot survive without the other.
Getting rich out of what is in the public domain, aka tragedy of the commons is what all our way of life is about - However in this case you do not deplete or poison the well, so there is no harm done. In fact the whole point for the TOD to exist - so that more people take this wonderful stream of information and disseminate it in the wider world.
It is still very hard to bootstrap oneself to be an expert, or spokesperson on something, without meaningless credentials, like a Phd in some unrelated field, before getting paid for a service - especially since people can get all the 'ideas for free' on the 'innernet'.

So I would say more power to cjwirth.

I've got a post 1/2 written 'The Tragedy of the TOD Commons'. That may be why its 1/2 written...;)

Incidentally, we do have a TOD mission statement

We've told cjwirth to quit posting links to his for-pay web site here. It doesn't seem right for him to try to profit from the work we are doing for free.

I've been instructed to delete his posts if he continues, and I am seriously considering it. No, he alone isn't too annoying, but I can see this will become a growing problem, as peak oil becomes more mainstream and this web site keeps growing in popularity.

I totally agree. If Mr Wirth wants to pilfer free material from the web, particuarly TOD, and try to sell that as acquired knowledge within his capacity, more power to him.

But linking his site repeatedly here, and explicitly telling new posters at the Drumbeat to not bother the regulars with novice questions, but rather read the 40-page treaty on paek oil and it's consequences, to be found at Mr With's site, is beyond arrogant.

I've said this before of Mr Wirth's compendium: Readers would be better advised to go to LATOC and read the writeup by Matt Savinar, which is far more compelling and entertaining. And the Chimp and I never agree.

To Mr Wirth, drop the tone, humble yourself and you may learn. You are/were an academic, no? How can one be so dogmatic? (It's a rhetorical question, Cliff.)

Hi John, I don't pilfer anything, rather I reference all sources that my report is based on -- and you know that already. As my report indicates, it is a review of scientific and governmental studies. No one else does that. Many comments on TOD have indicated that my report is very useful, and it has been posted on and many Peak Oil websites. Many have commented that it is the best Peak Oil primer on the net. So, I suggest that people read it for that reason. Here is what one TOD member wrote:

"I saw this article concerned with 'PO Gridlock' yesterday, and don't remember whether it was ever posted here, or if the author is a TOD regular. Here is a segment where he outlines the layers of petrol-dependent activity that could gridlock with fuel shortages, just in the energy production sector..

"Interdependence in the Production of Energy

The production of each type of energy is highly dependent on other types of energy. Shortages or high energy prices for one type of energy will limit the production of other energies. Oil is critically important in the production of all forms of energy. Shortages in oil will mean shortages in gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Thus oil rig workers won’t be able to travel to the oil fields and off-shore platforms; coal won’t be mined or transported; electric power won’t be generated in some plants; roads and bridges won’t be maintained; and spare parts won’t be delivered for oil drilling and refining, electric power generation, and for natural gas production. Shortages of natural gas will constrain oil production from Canada’s oil sands."
author: Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D."

It often seems that discussions over legislation like the one in question devolve into arguments over previously held positions of ideology or political part affiliation. TOD can be quite susceptible to this too. It is not unusual to hear about the (so called) evil Bush/Cheney oil men connection, or general slurs towards Republicans (and on other blogs one can hear the opposite, etc.)

Because biofuels play an important role in this 2007 Energy legislation I thought it interesting to do the following analysis:

Corn production by state, as found here:

We see that the following states (in order of 2006 production, with percentage of total production) ranked in corn:

Iowa 19%
Illinois 17%
Nebraska 11%
Minnesota 10%
Indiana 8%
Ohio 4%
Wisconsin 4%
Missouri 3%
Kansas 3%
South Dakota 3%

The big 5 corn states produced 6,993,060,000 bushels of corn in 2006, or 66% of the total (note: due to rounding in the individual state calculations the summations differ.)

The second tier of 5 states produced a total of 1,891,320,000 bushels of corn in 2006, or 18% of the total. So the top 10 states produce most of the corn in the US. (Also note that from 2004 to 2006 the SD corn crop decreased substantially, by almost 50%. Corn production is variable.)

So now that we know the important corn states, let's look at their political representation in that most august of democratic bodies on Earth, the US Senate.

Here are the senators from the "Big 5" corn states, in alphabetical order (with party affiliation): Bayh (D), Coleman (R), Durbin(D), Grassly (R), Hagel (R), Harkin (D), Klobuchar (D), Lugar(R), Nelson(D), Obama (D). So, 6 Democrats and 4 Republicans. We'll label this group the "B5S".

Here are the senators from the second tier corn states: Bond (R), Brown (D), Brownback(R), Feingold (D), Johnson(D), Kohl (D), McCaskill(D), Roberts (R), Thune (R), Voinovich (R). So 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans.

In the 10 states the D/R balance is just slightly tilted more toward the D side than the overall Senate. Let's call this total group of 20 senators the "corn senators", or "CoS" for short.

Let's see how this group did in voting for what Energy Security Act of 2007, following the action from July of this year:

On the June vote on passage (this of course before including the changes need to work with the House and the President):
Overall: Yea 65, Nay 27
B5S: Y 9, N 1
CoS: Y 13, N 4, A 3 (= absent or not voting)
Almost unanimous support from the B5S.

On the Dec 7 vote for cloture:
Overall: Y 53, N 42
B5S: Y 5, N 5
CoS: Y 11, N 9

On the Dec 12 vote on amendments:
Overall: Y 14, N 79
B5S: Y 0, N 9, A 1
CoS: Y 1, N 18, A 1

On the Dec 13 cloture vote:
Overall: Y 59, N 40
B5S: Y 9, N 1
CoS: Y 15, N 5

And finally, on the evening of Dec 13, on the motion to agree to the amendments:
Overall: Y 86, N 8
B5S: Y 8, N 0, A 2
CoS: Y 18, N 0, A2

It is pretty evident to see that the B5S moved as a group, especially in the beginning and the end, and note that not one of the CoS dared to vote no on what would finally be heading towards law.

They dared not to. Like it or not, energy legislation in the US, in the contemporary era, is also simultaneously agriculture legislation. It is not a matter of party politics.

Note that in parallel on the Senate calendar during December has been Agriculture legislation. In parallel with the Energy act was the Farm, Nutrition, and Boioenergy Act of 2007 (HR 2419). Votes were held on Dec 13 and Dec 14:

I don't know whether to consider it just irony, or some cruel comic tragedy, but in HR 2419 amendments are the scheduled payments for agriculture subsidies... here is what the text has in section 1104 (c)(1) for the target price (from

(1) IN GENERAL.--For purposes of each of the 2008 through 2012 crop years, the target prices for covered commodities shall be as follows:
    (A) Wheat, $4.20 per bushel.
    (B) Corn, $2.63 per bushel.

So, while they were voting in the larger Energy act to implement policies that for certain would take grains to new price highs (note market wheat at over $10 this week), in the Farm and Nutrition bill they have "targets" that would indicated grain prices ought to be less!

The absurdity of it all...

"All politics are local", or something along that line, said Tip O'neill. The Energy Security act of 2007 demonstrates that.

In looking over the amendments as they were finally approved by the Senate (see for the portions finally approved for the bill ), this caught my eye:


(b) Advanced Vehicles Manufacturing Facility.--The Secretary shall provide facility funding awards under this section to automobile manufacturers and component suppliers to pay not more than 30 percent of the cost of--

(1) reequipping, expanding, or establishing a manufacturing facility in the United States to produce--

(A) qualifying advanced technology vehicles; or

(B) qualifying components; and

(2) engineering integration performed in the United States of qualifying vehicles and qualifying components.

(d) Direct Loan Program.--

(1) IN GENERAL.--Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, and subject to the availability of appropriated funds, the Secretary shall carry out a program to provide a total of not more than $25,000,000,000 in loans to eligible individuals and entities (as determined by the Secretary) for the costs of activities described in subsection (b).

$25 billion in loans to GM, Ford, Chrysler... The Michigan delegation must be happy, no?

I have been using fluorescent lights to save energy since 1969. It is odd that it has taken this long for the country as a whole to adopt more efficient lighting in a big way. However, as they say, better late than never. By the way, I am quite impressed with the new "LED" Christmas lights out today. They use micro-power, are good for solar or wind systems and last almost forever. The thing I dislike about the recent legeslation is the removal of tax credits for alternative energy, i.e. solar panels, etc. That move seems odd, too.
D. Draffen

Someday, if there are still any historians around to write any history books, this will become known as "The Too-Little, Too-Late Energy Bill of 2007".

Maybe ethanol from cellulose would be a good way to get something useful out of all the mountains of paper that are issued from Washington.

I installed a natural light high efficiency bulb in my home and faced an outraged wife! She really hated it, however, the soft light high efficiency was warmly (efficiently?) received. I am worried about the focus in Ethenol in this bill, that is going to be a big mistake.

Heh. I think this is sort of funny. It seems the energy bill was delivered to the president (do I have to capitalize?) for his signature in a plug-in Prius. Appears it pissed off a couple of Republicans from Detroit. Does make me wonder why it had to be driven and not sent electronically.

Bicycle would have been more honest -- or horseback.

There's Republicans from Detroit?

Oh yeah. Uh. Meant Michigan. I don't think anyone is from Detroit anymore. Hasn't Detroit been abandoned?

Thanks, John. I'll fix the links up top.

This section is worth noting, EVs running off electricity from renewable energy sources (don't get excited yet, it's just a study):


(a) DEFINITION OF ELECTRIC VEHICLE.—In this section, the term ‘‘electric vehicle’’ means an electric motor vehicle (as defined in section 601 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (42 U.S.C. 13271))for which the rechargeable storage battery— (1) receives a charge directly from a source of electric current that is external to the vehicle; and (2) provides a minimum of 80 percent of the motive power of the vehicle.

(b) STUDY.—The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall conduct a study on the feasibility of issuing credits under the program established under section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act to electric vehicles powered by electricity produced from renewable energy sources.

(c) REPORT.—Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the United States Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the United States House of Representatives a report that describes the results of the study, including a description of—
(1) existing programs and studies on the use of renewable electricity as a means of powering electric vehicles; and
(2) alternatives for—
(A) designing a pilot program to determine the feasibility of using renewable electricity to power electric vehicles as an adjunct to a renewable fuels mandate;
(B) allowing the use, under the pilot program designed under subparagraph (A), of electricity generated from nuclear energy as an additional source of supply;
(C) identifying the source of electricity used to power electric vehicles; and
(D) equating specific quantities of electricity to quantities of renewable fuel under section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act.

...using electricity an adjunct to a renewable fuels mandate? Gosh, what a concept. How about as a replacement of renewable fuels? How about renewable energy support?

How about renewable energy support?

If one has their own power from solar sources it can be argued that one has less need for corporations or governments.

If such is correct, why would corporations or governments work to reduce their control over others?

Distributed generation and distributed storage of electricity from renewable sources, and transportation fueled by electricity, all doable now, will be the disruptive and transformational force that competes with peak oil for societial change in the 1st half of this century.

*disclaimer* assuming we don't all kill each other, or all starve to death, or succumb to fatal disease wrought by abrupt sea-level rise or loss of global potable water for sanitary purposes, .... .

Is hemp the ideal plant to derive cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel from in the United States?

Why do you think Willie got into the biodiesel business?

At home here in the UK, I have about 2.5kW total of incandencent light bulbs around the house. These of course tend to be switched on more in winter than summer, and they provide, as a by-product, about 15% of my winter heating.

If I replaced them with low-wattage bulbs, I would simply use correspondingly more natural gas for heating.

The main argument for low energy lighting seems to fall over in the UK, given that much of the touted energy saving will simply be taken up by increased gas (or, to a lesser extent, electricity) usage for heating.

We produce a substantial (and increasing) proportion of our electricity from natural gas, which, in part at least, is then used for domestic heating - viz. by incandescent light bulbs, as well as conventional electric heaters. This is very inefficient in comparison to burning the gas at the point of use.

Forcing a change away from incandescent bulbs appears to me to be not so much an energy conservation measure, but more one of reducing valuable natural gas usage for electricity generation.