Congressman Roscoe Bartlett's Peak Oil Special Order Speech May 1, 2008

I urge my colleagues to join me to support four better solutions:

1. A SMART GREEN SHOWCASE hosted by the SMART Organization in conjunction with me on July 18, 2008 in Frederick, Maryland will offer SMART ENERGY SOLUTIONS for homeowners and small business owners: practical ways you can use less energy, save money, and help our country transition to domestic, cleaner and renewable energy sources. The conference will provide educational and networking opportunities for home owners and representatives of large and small businesses, academic and non-profit organizations. For more information, go to:

2. Next week, I will be introducing the companion House legislation to S. 2821, the Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act of 2008. It is sponsored by Sen Cantwell, Maria [D-WA] and was introduced on April 3, 2008 with lead Republican cosponsor, Sen. Ensign, John [NV]. It currently has 43 Cosponsors. [ED Note: If you wish to see more of the legislation, co-sponsors, etc., go to THOMAS (Library of Congress), type in S. 2821 or any of the bill numbers below.]

Two other pending bills that I recommend looking at are:

3. My Self-powered Farm Bill: H.R. 80 and
4. the DRIVE Act, H.R. 670

To help solve America’s energy problems, we need to reduce our country’s dependence upon oil to grow our food and for transportation. These two bills would provide incentives to reduce the dependence of our farmers and our businesses and commuters on oil.

We need your help in calling your congresspersons and helping us get this legislation moving. More detail under the fold.

I want to make sure that you didn't miss today's New York Times column by Thomas Friedman which describes AMERICA’S ENERGY PROBLEMS as the predictable consequences of an energy strategy that would be exacerbated by the most popular proposed changes to "Maximize demand, minimize supply and buy the rest from the people who hate us the most."

Excerpts:'s what's scary: our problem is so much worse than you think. We have no energy strategy. If you are going to use tax policy to shape energy strategy then you want to raise taxes on the things you want to discourage — gasoline consumption and gas-guzzling cars — and you want to lower taxes on the things you want to encourage — new, renewable energy technologies. We are doing just the opposite.

...The Democrats wanted the wind and solar credits to be paid for by taking away tax credits from the oil industry. President Bush said he would veto that. Neither side would back down... Stalemate.

2. S. 2821 SUMMARY [as of]:


Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act of 2008 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to extend certain tax incentives for energy production and conservation.

Extends through 2009 the tax credit for the production of electricity from renewable resources (e.g., biomass, geothermal energy, landfill gas, and trash combustion). Includes marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy as a renewable resource eligible for such credit. Allows sales of electricity produced from renewable resources to regulated public utilities.

Extends the energy investment tax credits for solar energy (through 2016) and for fuel cell and microturbine property (through 2017). Repeals the dollar per kilowatt limitation for fuel cell property under the energy investment tax credit. Allows public electric utilities to qualify for such credit.

Extends through 2009 the tax credit for residential energy efficient property expenditures. Repeals the $2,000 limitation on the tax credit for solar electric property. Allows an offset against the alternative minimum tax (AMT) of tax credit amounts.

Extends through 2009 the tax credit for investment in clean renewable energy bonds. Increases the national limitation amount for such bonds.

Extends through 2009 deferral provisions relating to the recognition of gain by certain electric utilities.

Extends through 2009 the tax credit for nonbusiness energy property. Includes residential biomass fuel stoves (pellet stoves) as eligible energy property for purposes of such credit.

Extends through 2010 the tax credit for energy efficient new homes.

Extends through 2009 the tax deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings and increases the allowable amount of such deduction.

Extends the tax credit for energy efficient appliances to include appliances produced in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Revises and updates energy efficiency standards for such appliances in accordance with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

3. & 4.
For the text of h.r. 670 and h.r. 80, please go to

No sense in even trying anything like this until there is a new president.

Our lame duck president may or may not veto such legislation.

However, it looks like both Dems and Reps cosponsor this, and a significant number at that.

The legislation seems to me to contain mostly positive credits related to renewables.

I've not had a chance to read through everything, but do these efforts leave out the issue of raising taxes on oil companies? At least this makes it more palatable for those who consistently oppose legislation that raises the tax burden on the oil industry or gasoline.

After renewables get a boost, then the issue of taxation on non-renewables, or a carbon tax, or tax policy related to the oil industry could be addressed seperately -- either this year or next.

Is this the bill that requires coal power station to sequester produced CO2? That would drive the electricity bills throught the roof, further increase prices of Oil and Natural Gas, kill all economic Electrical Vehicle ambitions and make US even more dependent on foreing Oil and gas. Poor people already don't have the money to heat their houses!

Beware of silly (or evil?) politicians. They can ruin this country much faster than any Peak Oil could.

Desperate people already started harvesting and burning US forests. And burning wood is couple of orders of magnitude dirtier than burning coal!

Define "roof".  If coal is 25 million BTU/ton and 60% carbon by weight feeding a plant of 33.3% efficiency, a $50/ton tax on CO2 would cost $110 per ton of coal or 4.5¢/kWh; over the ~2000 billion kWh/year generated from coal in the USA, it would amount to about $90 billion/year.  Peanuts compared to the war.

Retrofitting plants to capture CO2 would pay off nicely, especially when you consider that the CO2 could be used to get huge amounts of oil out of abandoned fields from Texas all the way back to Pennsylvania.  If repowering a plant with IGCC and carbon capture costs $1500/kW, doing 200 GW of base-load plants would cost a whole $300 billion or about 3.3 years of carbon taxes at $50/ton.

Few points you missed:
- You have to lose energy to thermodynamic somewhere. On the scale of centralized Power Station you lose the least.
- Note that additional $0.045 doubles the electricity from coal price.
- Additional $110/ton of coal doubles the wholesale coal price
- 2000 billion kWh/year is not goin to be enough in the future. Higher Oil prices will mean shift to more coal.
- The only long-term stable way to capture CO2 make it back to coal - a net energy loss
- The unstable sequstration ways (underground) take half the energy, therefore doubling the need for plundering coal reserves
- You do not need CO2 for squeezing oil from abandoned fields, any gas will do.
- We cannot afford to sequester CO2. We will need every molecule above ground to foster the growth of biomass. Because when coal is gone, biomass is the only one we have left to live on.

Abd BTW, it is not *compared* to war, it is *in addition to* war.

Of all the ignorant nonsense....

You have to lose energy to thermodynamic somewhere.

Quite right.  A gas/steam turbine IGCC system loses 55-60%, but this is quite a bit less than a legacy steam turbine at 67-70%.  Conversion to an SOFC or MCFC topping cycle would cut losses substantially.

Note that additional $0.045 doubles the electricity from coal price.

Yes it does.  It makes it substantially more expensive than wind, but not as expensive as natural gas.

Additional $110/ton of coal doubles the wholesale coal price

This may still not internalize all its external costs.

2000 billion kWh/year is not goin to be enough in the future.

You're assuming the growth is going to be in coal rather than nuclear and wind.  Given that coal supplies are depleting, this is debatable.

The only long-term stable way to capture CO2 make it back to coal

Limestone proves you wrong.  Injection of CO2 into e.g. sandstones will eventually create carbonates.

The unstable sequstration ways (underground) take half the energy

Chilled-ammonia capture allegedly takes 7% for a conventional coal plant.  An IGCC plant which strips roughly 25% of the carbon in the syngas scrubbing would have even lower power requirements, and an IGCC plant which converts to a fuel cell topping cycle and routes the reaction gases straight to cooling and compression would have zero.

You do not need CO2 for squeezing oil from abandoned fields

Is that an ignorant falsehood, or a lie?  There is a maximum amount of oil which can be pushed out of reservoirs with immiscible fluids like water (or gases) because the oil becomes immobile ("fractional flow").  Supercritical CO2 is a miscible solvent.

We cannot afford to sequester CO2. We will need every molecule above ground to foster the growth of biomass. Because when coal is gone, biomass is the only one we have left to live on.

Garbage on several levels.

  • People had food, firewood and everything else when atmospheric CO2 was just 285 ppm of the atmosphere.
  • Our major renewable energy sources (by kWh/m²/yr) are going to be solar and wind, not biomass.

You sound like a coal-industry propagandist.

Poetic Engineer,

You essentialy agree to all but last three points. Let's look at those.

Limestone proves you wrong.

You do not mean it seriously. It does prove my sentence "wrong", but to lock CO2 in Limestone, you would need lot of free Ca, CaO or CAOH and that is manufacturesd from Limestone using lots of head and releaseing same amount of CO2 it later seqesters. I cannot share your optimism for creation of carbonates with other elements than Ca, since most of the rock it finds will be SiO2 and Al2O3 which do not dissolve or react in weak Carbonic acid (pH > 3.5). You can at most find traces of other elements that would be willing to create carbonates.

Chilled-ammonia capture allegedly takes 7% for a conventional coal plant

- And how much energy requires production and chilling of ammonia?
- How many TONS of ammonia is needed to capture CO2 from mere 50lb of Coal?
- Do you indend to sequester this ammount of ammonia or is is only a transport agent and the sequestration can only begin after the ammonia is heated?

Is that an ignorant falsehood, or a lie? Supercritical CO2 is a miscible solvent.

Now you are talking! I am actually glad that you exposed this lie and falsehood for ignorants!
So CO2 is actually not quite meant to end up sequestered. It is meant to dissolve more oil locked underground and and then pumped with the not-so sequestered CO2 solvent to the surface, so that the all the "sequestered" CO2 plus carbon from the oil can be released to the atmosphere.
Now, I like that. I only oppose prepaying for this opposite to "sequestration" under the guise of sequestration before they pump the oil in my tank.

* People had food, firewood and everything else when atmospheric CO2 was just 285 ppm of the atmosphere.

Is this a lie or an ignorant falsehood? More people were startving to death throughout centuries when population was fraction of today's. Only in the last half of CO2 rich 20th century famine has been steadily declining.

Why on earth am I here exposing CO2-phobia if not so save lives lost to Global Warming delusion. Have you checked the corn prices lately?

* Our major renewable energy sources (by kWh/m²/yr) are going to be solar and wind, not biomass.
Absolutely Agreed. But let's classify all our sources:
- Solar energy is available when you use it directly - during daytime on some days.
- Wind is solar energy blowing more randomly.
- Biomass is concentrated stored solar energy with high water content usable round the clock, yet cannot be poured into fuel tanks.
- Coal is twice as concentrated stored solar energy that is hard to pour to fuel tanks.
- Oil is three times as concentrated stored solar energy in liquid form.

I LOVE solar energy. I always buy full tank of it.

No. This is not the bill that requires coal plants to sequester CO2. That is obvious from the article.


Hi Cslater8,

Why do you say this? i.e., what's your reasoning?

Over the weekend I went to a community yard sale in a development that has an Home Owners Association (HOA). I was told by one of the residents that the covenent of the HOA did not allow solar power on the homes. Since this is fairly new development, I was able to say that the covenent was not enforcible since the Maryland real property code says

§ 2-119.

(a) A restrictive covenant regarding land use, which becomes effective after July 1, 1980, may not impose or act to impose unreasonable limitations on the installation of solar collection panels on the roof or exterior walls of improvements.

(b) This section does not apply to a restrictive covenant on historic property that is listed by:

(1) The Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties; or

(2) The Maryland Register of Historic Properties.

I hope the conference in Maryland can do something to make people aware of this law since it will be dealing with HOA issues.


Chris, did you get my email a week ago from Standard Solar?

We haven't come across a HOA in MD yet that did not allow an array on a roof. Some require sketches prior to approval.

I know of at least two now but the first immediately recognized that the provision was unenforcible. You may not be hearing about the ones that don't allow solar because no one makes iquiries about getting solar because it is not allowed. I learned of the two I know about by chance. The first one from a fellow Stepitup activist. It would be a worthwhile project to get information about the law into HOA newsletters around the state.


Colorado recently passed a law (HB1270) that prevents HOAs from prohibiting energy saving devices, including solar panels, windmills, swamp coolers, and clotheslines. An amazing feat on the part of our legislators!

For those of you who live in humid areas, a swamp cooler is basically a high powered humidifier. They are often window mounted like a window air conditioner, and sometimes they are mounted on the roofs of houses. They are a very efficient way of cooling your house if your relative humidity is low enough. I know it is unimaginable to people in humid areas that you would want to pump moisture into your house in summer, but swamp coolers are very efficient compared to A/C, since they are basically just a small water pump and a large fan.

This section does not apply to a restrictive covenant on historic property....

Then downtown Annapolis is pretty much scr***d.

In that case, the covenents could be revised. Hard Bargain Farm, in PG county, is a National Historic Landmark and has solar power. Historic sites always need more review. Progress in restoring Chapman State Park in Charles county seems frustratingly slow because of all the review. And, sometimes all that review seems like a way to keep funds from flowing as well. But, the review does help to avoid mistakes.


In looking at the findings of H.R. 80, the Self-Powered Farm Act, it seems to me that it is not the agricultural worker productivity that is the most direct effect of the green revolution but rather the land productivity. Mechanization is separate from the understanding of fertilizer, development of new crop varieties and methods of disease and pest control and mechanization has had some effects that require mitigation. Soil erosion and compaction which grow with mechanization together with loss of fisheries in esturaries like the Chesapeake Bay from mechanized fertilization methods have needed responses like no-till or carefully timed application of fertilizer. Mechanization has led to a reduction in farm diversity and an increase in corruption in companies like ADM.

There are fossil energy inputs in both mechanization and chemical inputs, but only the chemical inputs boost the per acre yield. Mechanization simply reduces the number of family farms.

The goal of making farms energy self-sufficient using biomass feedstocks pretty much has to cut into food production. The EROEI of corn ethanol (1.3) means that a farm can never reach the factor of 2 goal in the bill even if it only produces corn for ethanol. A method with an EROEI of 4 requires half the land to be used for energy, cutting the food supply in half. On the other hand, wind farms or solar collectors can use land more efficiently for energy production and may not cut into food production nearly as much.

There is a question though if it makes sense to require energy self-sufficiency for a farm and not also do so for a home or a business.

One further way to look at this: Iowa is devoting about a quarter of its corn crop to making around 2 billion gallons of ethanol or about 160 billion MJ of energy a year. The installed wind capacity in Iowa is about 1.3 GW and this represents about about 0.6% of Iowa's wind potential. But, already, wind is producing 12 billion MJ/yr in Iowa (30% capacity factor). So, if Iowa used just 10% of its wind potential, it would produce as much useful energy as using all of its corn for ethanol since ethanol is burned at about 30% efficiency.

Not all of Iowa has class 3 or better wind, yet in terms of energy production, the state would do better with wind than with ethanol. Does it make any sense to say to the less windy farm that it has to make ethanol even though plenty of energy is available from the windier farm in the same state?

Energy self-sufficiency may not have the farm as a fundemental unit.


Since most tractors run on diesel, I would be more inclined to look at this as supporting on farm diesel and/or on-farm wind and other solar electric.

Diesel generally better net energy than ethanol.

biodiesel or Robert's green diesel still would take up a lot of cropland if sourced from the farm. On the other hand, if there is a use for the process heat, making diesel from wind energy (and air) probably would not impinge on cropland.


Energy self-sufficiency may not have the farm as a fundemental unit.

At least some types of farming can supply their own energy requirements from crop byproducts (and maybe yield a substantial surplus), but farms may be better viewed as having a secondary business of carbon capture/GHG reduction after the primary business of food production.

If I'm reading the bill right (H.R. 80) the goal is producing twice as much energy as consumed including fertilizer energy inputs. I think a farm that grows beans has a chance at this, maybe, but producing energy from biomass is poor land use once the easy picking are had. Producing char does make sense and there could be some energy produced as a result.


This was started back in the 1970's, only to be yanked by Reagan. At least he couldn't kill CAFE, though he was successful in lowering it slightly.