DrumBeat: May 19, 2009

Jeff Rubin: A coming world that's 'a whole lot smaller'

But unlike many previous peak oil books, which typically don't get much past "we're in big trouble," Mr. Rubin's conclusions are refreshingly optimistic. His world of the oil-starved future, at least for Western societies, looks a lot like the bygone years of our fond memory, where people work and vacation nearer to home, eat locally grown foods and buy locally produced goods, and suburban sprawl is replaced by revitalized cities.

"I think it will really restructure the economy in ways that people haven't even begun to imagine," he said. "But I think, ironically, it's going to be a return to the past ... in terms of the re-emergence of local economies."

Indeed, the book's title is derived from this central argument - that expensive fuel will force a reversal of globalization, as long-distance trade becomes increasingly expensive and impractical. The only alternative may be a relentless cycle of economic shocks triggered by oil price surges.

Energy, carbon taxes and the winds of change

Commercial air travel, like many other industries, is lubricated by cheap oil. Mr. Rubin, the former chief economist of CIBC World Markets, has now bet his career on a single idea – that the cheap oil era is dead and globalization is about to wither along with it. But the most fascinating part of his thesis has nothing to do with geology or Hubbert's peak oil theory. It's about the reindustrialization of North America. Those unemployed airline workers could be looking for work – and finding it – in the revitalized factories of Southern Ontario.

This, for some, could be expensive energy's upside. It will render foreign manufacturers (read: China) less competitive. We saw a glimpse of this as oil climbed to its peak of nearly $150 (U.S.) a barrel last year. Shipping costs rose so much that North American steel plants began to claw back the advantage over Asian exporters. They were increasing their production, until the U.S. economy imploded.

Oil prices rise as holiday weekend nears

Energy prices resumed their climb into summer driving season Monday, a show of confidence that Americans will overlook dismal economic news as they head out on their Memorial Day weekend trips.

Benchmark crude for June delivery jumped $2.69 to settle at $59.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after dropping $2.28 Friday to $56.34.

Don’t ‘Underestimate’ Oil’s Coming 1980s-Style Down Cycle, Raymond James Warns Investors

Only a week after declaring that global oil production has “peaked,” investment firm Raymond James & Associates is warning investors that the oil industry “may be in the early stages of a multi-year down cycle.”

In a May 4 research note, the advisory firm said it believes “mankind better get ready to live in a peak oil world,” because it appears global oil production topped out in the first quarter of 2008.

Apparently, however, the world won’t be starved for oil anytime soon. In a May 11 research note, Raymond James said it looks like the oil industry’s immediate future will be a severe down cycle that will look “eerily similar to the early 1980s,” which was when the world was awash with oil, causing prices to plunge and drilling activity to stall.

Countries rated on oil security

Canada is the world's most energy-secure nation, and Indonesia is at the bottom of a new Energy Security Index compiled by Energy Security News and The Washington Times.

The study ranks the top oil-producing nations on their ability to export petroleum products safely to the rest of the world. It bases its assessment on each country's production and refining levels, its level of internal political strife and its ability to transport oil to other nations, given potential - or real - impediments.

OPEC Should Adhere to Quotas, Group’s President Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries should adhere closely to agreed production quotas to stabilize oil markets, the group’s president said today.

The End Game Draws Nigh − The Future Evolution of the Debt−to−GDP Ratio

As a case study in how poor the administration's policies are in this regard, consider its energy policies. Is anyone in the new administration reading about the disastrous 9% annual decrease in the output of "old" oil (yes, "peak oil" turned out to be true), in conjunction with a collapse of previously scheduled investments in exploration and development, and in refining capacity? Are they blind to the supply-crisis that is unfolding, one that calls not only for "renewable energy," but also for a major expansion of traditional oil and gas production?

Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security

Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security is a report by CNA's Military Advisory Board (MAB) that explores the impact of America's energy choices on our national security policies. This report follows the MAB's groundbreaking 2007 report National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, which found that "climate change, national security, and energy dependence are a related set of global challenges."

This new volume builds on that finding by considering: the security risks inherent in our current energy posture; energy choices the nation can make to enhance our national security; the impact of climate change on our energy choices and our national security; and the role the Department of Defense can play in the nation’s approach to energy security and climate change.

Pentagon says cutting energy use is big priority

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department, the nation's single largest consumer of energy, is putting increased focus on cutting its energy consumption and ensuring that future weapons are more energy efficient, the Pentagon's new chief weapons buyer said on Monday.

Reducing energy consumption is a big priority for the Obama administration, which has vowed to fight climate change, and could save billions of dollars at a time of mounting budget pressures, said Ashton Carter, who became undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics last month.

China, Brazil Agree to $10 Billion Loan, Exploration

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy user, and Brazil signed 13 accords, including a $10 billion loan and agreements on oil exploration and crude trade.

Saudi Arabia to slash gasoline imports by 29% in June

Saudi Arabia is expected to slash gasoline imports by nearly 29 percent in June, as domestic production capacity ramps up following refinery maintenance work, traders said on Monday.

The world's top oil exporter will import nearly 57,000 barrels per day of gasoline in June versus 80,000 bpd in May, traders said.

Saudis expect more gas discoveries

Saudi Arabia expects to make additional natural gas discoveries from joint ventures of its national oil company and foreign firms, the country’s oil minister said.

Saudi Aramco’s discovered gas reserves were 267 trillion cubic feet at the end of last year, Ali Naimi said in a speech in Dhahran.

Gas production averaged 8.3 billion cubic feet a day last year, Aramco said in its annual report last week.

Consumption is growing at 7% per year, Naimi said.

ExxonMobil, Aramco's China refinery starts

BEIJING (Reuters) - A joint venture between Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), Saudi Aramco and China's Sinopec Corp, said on Tuesday it had started trial runs at its new Fujian refinery on China's southeastern coast.

The whole complex, which includes a 240,000-barrel-per-day refinery and an 800,000-tonne-per-year ethylene complex, will enter full operations in the second half of 2009, it said.

China plans to build petrol reserves

China said on Monday that it would start building state reserves of refined oil products such as petrol and diesel, to diversify strategic stockpiles away from unrefined crude oil in a move that mirrors Europe’s policy.

Beijing is using low commodities prices and the fact that companies have high inventories, both in China and abroad, as a chance to increase its strategic reserves of raw materials.

Iran says ready to face any U.S. gasoline sanctions

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has plans in place to deal quickly with the consequences of a proposed U.S. law that would penalise companies supplying the country with gasoline, its oil minister was quoted as saying on Monday.

The U.S. Congress is considering legislation to impose sanctions on companies that sell, ship, finance or insure gasoline exports to Iran. Under the bill, which aims to pressure Iran over its nuclear plans, foreign companies doing so would be barred from conducting business in the United States.

Total Studies Gulf Refinery Delay to Limit Costs as Prices Fall

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, the French oil company planning a refinery on the Persian Gulf with Saudi Aramco, is prepared to push the project back further to force contractors to cut bids as fuel demand and prices fall.

“We’ll launch this project when we’re sure there isn’t any reason to wait,” Michel Benezit, Total’s president of refining and marketing, said in an interview yesterday in Paris. “The cost to us of delaying the project by a week is much less than the savings we get if we spend the time convincing contractors that their price isn’t right.”

StatoilHydro Won’t Abandon Canada Oil Sands, Finansavisen Says

(Bloomberg) -- StatoilHydro ASA won’t abandon its Canadian oil sands project after some shareholders called for the Norwegian company to do so, Finansavisen reported.

StatoilHydro won’t change its strategy and sees unconventional resources, such as oil sands, as necessary to meet energy demand in the next decade, the newspaper cited Chairman Svein Rennemo as saying.

IHS study sees oil sands move from the "fringe to center" of energy supply

Technological advance in the Canadian oil sands has made Canada the world's second largest holder of recoverable oil reserves, after Saudi Arabia, and "an increasingly important part of the fabric of hemispheric and global energy security", according to a new major study, Growth in the Canadian Oil Sands: Finding a New Balance by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (IHS CERA). "The oil sands have moved from the fringe to the center of energy supply," the study adds.

Oilsands output could rise to 6.3 million barrels a day, study says

TORONTO — Output from Canada’s oilsands could rise to as much as 6.3-million barrels a day by 2035, a nearly fivefold increase above current levels, according to a landmark U.S. report released Monday.

Greenpeace warns on Shell oil sands projects

Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s biggest oil company, will on Tuesday face renewed opposition to its investments in Canada’s carbon-intense oil sands.

A study by Greenpeace and several other environmental campaigners has concluded the company’s carbon intensity will rise 85 per cent as it develops its oil and gas fields in the coming years.

Oil sands face green investor microscope

CALGARY — With European investors set to weigh in today in a high-profile test of the world's appetite for Canada's oil sands, an energy research group is estimating Alberta's bitumen could provide more than a third of U.S. oil consumption by 2035.

Tumbling prices push 2 U.S. energy firms into Chapter 11

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tumbling energy prices over the past year and a lack of credit pushed two U.S. energy companies into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the latest in a string of such filings.

Pacific Ethanol Inc, the largest West Coast-based producer and marketer of ethanol, put its production plants in California, Oregon and Idaho in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company said on Monday. The company's marketing arm, which buys and sells ethanol, did not file for bankruptcy.

Oil and gas exploration company TXCO Resources Inc said it also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, along with seven subsidiaries.

The coldest war: Russia and U.S. face off over Arctic resources

As the oil wells run dry, the planet's last great energy reserves lie miles beneath the North Pole. And as the U.S. and Russia race to grab them at any cost, the stage is set for a devastating new cold war.

Iraq's Oil Ministry under fire from parliament

The controversial policies of Iraq’s Oil Ministry, most notably the highly unpopular fixed fee contracts being offered to IOCs, have come under fire from the country’s parliament.

News agency Reuters reported that the parliament’s Oil and Gas committee submitted a petition containing 140 MP’s signatures that called on the Iraq’s Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani to explain why his policies have led to “huge shortages” in oil revenues.

News Analysis: After 14 years of negotiation, Russian oil pipeline runs into China

BEIJING, May 19 (Xinhua) -- China, the world's second largest oil consumer, is getting closer to steady supplies from Russia, the world's second largest producer, as construction on the China section of an oil pipeline linking the two nations starts Monday.

Shell planning for long downturn

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) is assuming the economic downturn could last several years when assessing the outlook for oil prices and planning investment.

GM bankruptcy seen as all but inevitable

DETROIT (Reuters) - After 100 years in business and 10 months of frenzied but failed restructuring, General Motors Corp is weeks from the bankruptcy filing experts say will be required to complete the Obama administration's bid to reshape a fallen icon of American industry.

China Raises Jet Fuel Prices by 13% on Crude Gains

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-largest oil user, raised the ex-factory jet fuel price by about 13 percent as crude oil costs climbed, the nation’s top refiner said.

China's edge in the energy-efficiency industry

The sleeping giant is taking the lead in manufacturing components for solar and wind generators and building electric cars, but the U.S. could still catch up.

China boosts subsidies for car, appliance buyers

SHANGHAI (AP) -- China will subsidize purchases of cars and home appliances to replace older models, expanding a program first introduced in rural areas to major cities, the government said Tuesday in its latest move to stimulate the economy.

Saudi Arabia Doubles Project Spending to Fight Crisis

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, doubled its spending on infrastructure projects in the first quarter as the kingdom sought to counter the effects of the global economic crisis.

Future of Biofuels Expected to Remain Bright

Less than 5 percent of world cereal production will go to biofuels this season, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. But that share is expected to rise steadily, at least until technology to process alternative raw materials is deployed on a global scale, a distant prospect.

Rising biofuel use, together with surging human and animal consumption, will continue to put pressure on global food supplies, mostly because cereal production is not keeping up with demand. “There is not enough money being devoted to agriculture. Long-term trends are pretty dire,” said Francisco Blanch, head commodity analyst for Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, in London. “We are setting ourselves up for another big rally.

“Prices are set by marginal changes in supply; biofuels are still biting into overall agricultural production, and there is a risk of another price spike in as little as a year. All we need is a bad crop.”

The ratio of world grain stocks to consumption — a measure of spare food capacity — is likely to remain historically low through 2010 and beyond, at around half its level at the start of the century, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the United Nations.

Two groups oppose increasing U.S. ethanol blend rate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Blending more than 10 percent ethanol into U.S. gasoline will result in more air pollution and more damage to engines, said an environmental group and a boating industry trade group on Monday.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) said evidence weighed against allowing a blend of up to 15 percent ethanol in gasoline.

Smart Grid Progress: DOE Announces First Standards, Raises Cap on Stimulus Funds

As we’ve pointed out in the past, policy makers and companies building out the smart grid are under the gun to produce a working set of standards by September in order to quickly and effectively allocate the over $4 billion in stimulus funds. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu sees the need to move quickly, and this morning he held a meeting with 60 or so smart-grid industry leaders to kick-start the standards process for industry workshops coming up later this week. At the meeting, the DOE announced the first 16 sets of standards that will make up the more than 100 standards for the Interim SmartGrid Roadmap that will be published by the National Institute of Standards in September.

Mongolia: the Kremlin Takes Aim at Mongolia’s Uranium Reserves

For centuries, Mongolia was an object of geopolitical interest, widely seen as a buffer between two rival empires. But these days -- given the recent discoveries of strategically important raw materials like uranium -- the country is assuming a greater level of global economic importance. At the same time, the global drop in commodity prices has hit Mongolia hard and the country’s economy is now struggling.

Maine task force to identify offshore wind energy sites

Maine's test sites may also attract a company with big ambitions for offshore wind, StatoilHydro, a Norwegian oil and gas firm that's expanding into worldwide energy ventures. Next month, the company plans to install a $62 million structure off Stavanger, Norway, for what it says is the world's first full-scale floating wind turbine. Called Hywind, the unit will have a two-year test period.

StatoilHydro didn't respond to an e-mail last week. But the company is monitoring the work of Maine's task force and plans to begin video conferences this summer with representatives from the University of Maine, Cianbro and BIW, according to George Hart, chief technology officer at the Ocean Energy Institute. The research group, founded by energy investment banker and Rockport summer resident Matthew Simmons, is working to encourage large-scale offshore wind development in Maine.

Back to the 'Old Normal' of Domesticity

This year I decided to learn how to garden.

My resolve wasn't just a notion for a new pastime or a move toward hip liberalism. Rather, it was my response to global warming and in particular, the depletion of fossil fuels, which has a direct effect on our food system.

How to Raise a Good Energy Tax

I was recently asked by the National Journal to comment on what I thought was a desirable path for tax reform, if one could wish away political constraints that normally handcuff politicians. My answer was, of course, to tax energy, particularly carbon emissions, and use the revenue to reduce other taxes. As I and many others have noted often in the past, taxes on oil or gasoline hit many birds with one stone.

Vehicle Emission Rules to Tighten

The Obama administration today plans to propose tough standards for tailpipe emissions from new automobiles, establishing the first nationwide regulation for greenhouse gases.

Climate Change Bill Suffers from Backroom Dealings, Industry Influence

The climate change legislation that will be debated this week is a huge disappointment. Not only will it prove a boon to energy industries, but it won’t protect consumers and may very well not even curb global warming. The first draft, penned months ago, was on track to accomplish these goals, and we applauded it as a great start. Since then, however, lawmakers have met in secret with representatives of the coal and oil industries and facilitated industry efforts to gut the bill.

'Norway emissions drop not enough'

Norway's greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.2% in 2008, led by a decline in the manufacturing industry, but were still far above goals under the UN's Kyoto Protocol, Statistics Norway said today.

Warming Skeptics Get Heard on the Hill

After the decade they've had, Capitol Hill's climate-change skeptics might well feel like polar bears on a shrinking ice floe.

Scientists around the globe have rejected their main arguments -- that the climate isn't clearly warming, that humans aren't responsible for it, or that the whole thing doesn't amount to a problem. Public opinion has also shifted and even Exxon Mobil talks about greenhouse gases.

But this spring, it's been obvious: Doubt is not dead.

Your World in Maps: Climate Change Edition

Last week, the British medical journal The Lancet released the product of a year-long partnership with the University College London that attempted to assess the impact of global warming on global health. "Climate change," they concluded, "is the biggest global health threat of the 21 century." But crucially, it's a terribly unequal threat. The graphic below -- click for full size -- presents two distorted maps. The first shows the world in terms of carbon emissions. America, for instance, is huge. So is China. And Europe. Africa is hardly visible. The second map shows the world in terms of increased mortality -- that is to say, deaths -- from climate change. Suddenly, America virtually disappears. So does Europe. Africa, however, is grotesquely distended. South Asia inflates.

Re: Warming Skeptics Get Heard on the Hill

From the story:

"The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) -- although nobody is on record as saying carbon dioxide causes cancer.

Is Boehner really that out of touch on the science surrounding the Climate Change problem or is he simply lying? Inquiring minds want to know --- and hold him responsible...

E. Swanson

That comment is as laughable as it is disingenuous, it is a totally bogus strawman argument if ever there was one. No one has ever made that claim.

That having been said, the entire bunch of so called skeptics, (they are no such thing), could just be dismissed out of hand were it not for the fact that they hold real political and economic power.

Most scientists now say there is a consensus about climate change: It is "unequivocal," concluded a United Nations report in 2007. It found that recent temperatures were about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit higher than a century ago -- and that most of this is "very likely" due to man-made greenhouse gases.

One really has to wonder what part of *UNEQUIVOCAL* they fail to grasp?

Then again as per the quote sometimes seen at the top of this page, It's hard to make someone understand something if their salary depends on their not understanding it.

The earth is flat. Everyone can see plainly see that. It is only reckless greed that ship owners send their captains into unexplored waters, placing hapless crews in danger of the abyss.

The earth is practically flat, but not in the way feared.

The earth is warming. The rest remains to be seen and prudence is warranted. Abject terror is not.

Abject terror is not.

Given climate can shift as much as 7C in a decade, I'm sure glad we've a Nostradamus among us!


On a more serious note, I've been looking at the Arctic Sea Ice and it sure seems to have thinness consistently over the area of the Arctic (though yet only down to 90% away from the edges.) I'm trying to find daily images from past springs to compare to, but I sure have the impression the center and area north of Canada (where multi-year ice gathers preferentially) is usually pretty solid till later spring.

I could be completely wrong about that.

The upshot is, with so little multi-year ice, we could see melt equal or near the past two summers even with the slow start of the melt season. Time will tell.


Thank you for the levity CCPO! Even I can crack a smile at that sentiment!

On a similar note. I recently read that in the recent glacial transition periods, temperatures in Greenland vacillated by as much as 50F in a decade. I haven't independently confirmed this information or whether this was going into glacial periods, coming out, or both. Seems like a valuable canary.

Two words: Arctic Amplification.

Best I could do:

2007: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/ARCHIVE/20070516.jpg

Even though '07 is the record low year thus far, as of May 16 there were no areas in the interior of the pack with less than about 80% concentration.

Current: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/NEWIMAGES/arctic.seaice.color.00...

We see an area interior with as low as about 70%. Given the late start, that's potentially a bad sign.


A more up to date map http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr/amsre.html The main ice loss seems to be in the North Atlantic. Patches of 50% to 70% ice cover in the interior appear and then disappear.
Whether one will appear permanently is hard to say.

Thanks for updating the pics a whole three days! Whew! Those pics I used were SO out of date! Sadly, the hole is still there.

The main ice loss seems to be in the North Atlantic.

Given that's the typical pattern and not the subject of my post, what's your point? Thanks for more spin, eh?

Patches of 50% to 70% ice cover in the interior appear and then disappear.

Imagine that! Sea ice moves. Huh... who'd 'a thunk it? Of course, my point was that interior areas of lower ice concentration may not be typical at this point in the season. (I was comparing, you see.)

Whether one will appear permanently is hard to say.

Well, actually, no. And yes. As you noted for us silly people who you seem to think don't understand that sea ice moves, holes open and close. But those are large holes. (Like the one noted.) In reality there are holes all over the ice. Anywhere the ice is less than 100%, there's open water. There's an awful lot of lighter purple (holes) in your pic.


Always fun, weatherman, but never enlightening. If you'd care to address the issue I actually noted, I'd be happy to respond with a more serious effort.


The point was that it's nice to have an image updated every day, whole the other sites seem to update when they feel like it. Also the slow pace of melt this year has aroused commentin climate circles. Whether it will pick up later we will see. Also ice loss in the North Atlantic is unusual at this stage, since the currents in the Arctic Ocean push the ice in that direction.Generally the ice in the North Atlantic is the last to retreat.

A day or two just isn't an issue, and I was looking for images that I could compare to past images. The only combo I found in my short search was what I posted.

The slow melt has caused some chat in climate circles? Where? Do link. Though I suspect you mean denialist circles, I'd love to see it. The Arctic truly is the canary in the coal mine.

As you pointed out, the appearance of slow melt in some parts of the NA is really nothing more than ice flowing out of the Arctic Ocean. But, yes, I agree, the pattern is strange. Strangest to me, and most meaningful, is the overall thinness of the ice. It's just strange to see less than 90 - 100% on virtually all areas.

Again, this may be normal. I need to look at more past images.

Really, though, what else should we expect? It is a chaotic system, after all. Take a look at these April temps, for example:


The link http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/index.html though the past few days the melt has started to gather pace. Disappointed the NASA site doesn't show land ice any more. Any sites that do?

"The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical,"

It is of course a totally invalid strawman type argument, but it is a deliberate strategy to engage the non-logical emotion-based thinking that dominates human thought. This sort of argumentation can be both incredibly stupid and disingenuous, while at the same time be very effective.

It is about as illogical as the premise that a cap and trade futures market, generating billions of dollars in profit for connected firms, is necessary to properly address climate change.

--to engage the non-logical emotion-based thinking that dominates human thought

Speaking of that, have you seen this HuffPo post on how speak to the average American?

Apparently, "Clean, safe fuels of the future" resonates well with our neurological "network of associations".

"Is Boehner really that out of touch on the science surrounding the Climate Change problem or is he simply lying?"

Maybe the former, he's not a scientist. But leave all that aside and reflect for a moment on his remark, and it may not be so surprising.

Indeed, it merely shows us for the umpteenth time how the word "cancer" serves as a magic spell parting people instantly from their senses. After all, we hear every imaginable histrionic about sparing no expense (provided that Russell Long's proverbial 'guy behind the tree' is footing the bill) to avoid a one-in-a-million-bazillion risk of "cancer" - but we only hear it when the pious preacher refrains from stuffing all three of his or her chins to bursting for long enough to get a few words out. Oh, sure, "heart attack" may sound a little bad, and it may just be the biggest threat, but for sheer scare-power it has nothing, absolutely nothing, on "cancer".

For Mr. Boehner and many others, "cancer" may simply be the main or even sole factor scaring them into environmental regulation. No wonder, then, that as a non-scientist, he might jump to the conclusion - especially if it's convenient - that any regulation would naturally be about "cancer". Indeed, convince enough voters that CO2 might conceivably, in some other universe, at one-in-a-trillion odds cause cancer, and you might be able to shut down the entire economy.

Paul: This planet is loaded to the gills with man-made carcinogens and it is increasing daily. Contrary to your thesis, absolutely nothing material is being done to address this and there doesn't appear to be any political will at all, whether the opposition is coming from people like yourself, carcinogen dumping industry spokespersons, or the cancer (medical) industry/lobby.

I don't disagree that the word 'Cancer' has become a catch-all.. but it appears that so have we.

In 2001 scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta surveyed 2,400 people and searched for 148 specific toxic compounds in their blood and urine. Every single test subject’s body contained dozens of these toxins. Environment Ministers from 13 European Union countries had their blood tested at an international health conference in 2004 and were horrified to discover that every one of them had been contaminated by synthetic chemicals from pizza packaging, pesticides, plastics, fragrances and industrial solvents. At least 22 chemicals banned in Europe during the 1970s still turned up in the blood samples of these government officials.


The seriously scary thing is that Congressman Boehner might be sincere. He might just not have caught any of the details about the science, even though there've been 4 IPCC reports, numerous scientific reports/studies, not to mention books, and articles in the MSM. He could have slept thru all the hearings in Congress, which really began to take off after the record heat wave during the summer of 1988 when James Hansen offered his first block buster projections. Heck, there were reports in scientific gatherings, such as the AAAS conventions I attended back in 1979 and 1980.

Yeah, sure, he's just been napping all these years. Yawn. Pass the PROZAC. Maybe these idiot denialist in Congress should be brought up on charges of criminal negligence. Do you think that would grab their attention?

E. Swanson

Here's a science story two-for-one, perhaps written specifically for Boehner:
Scientists piece together human ancestry

A 47-million-year-old fossil is being heralded as an early human ancestor...Ida may have been overcome by carbon dioxide gas while drinking from the Messel lake, which was often covered by a low-lying blanket of the gas, the news release said. Hampered by the broken wrist, the young primate may have fallen into unconsciousness and may have slipped into the lake. The primate sunk to the bottom and was preserved for 47 million years,

A missing link in the fossil record of pre-humans, AND it was killed by CO2!

Are we smarter than proto-lemurs?

Wow, 47 million years old! Now that's using the wayback machine!

For Mr. Boehner and many others, "cancer" may simply be the main or even sole factor scaring them into environmental regulation.

I doubt it. That sounds much more like a deliberately crafted lie. He may well be lying to himself as well - I'll grant that - but bottom line, Boehner knows better. It's just that his power depends on a different constituency.

Those scenes in the movie, "Amazing Grace", where the English parliament discusses slavery. Nearly everyone sitting in Congress sits there because of our culture of consumption. They can't change or act differently. That does NOT make them blameless. If anything, it makes them old and in the way. Put them out on a cold night for the coyotes. The generations wired to the culture of consumption have to die off and be replaced by generations wired for deprivation.

Collapse and die-off is necessary. Have a nice day.

cfm in Gray, ME

I've got resources to burn - NYTimes (Tierney) -A review/summary of G. Millers 'Spent -Sex Evolution and Consumer Behavior' (Which is excellent, and I feel at root of our current, and future paradigm)

Good morning, Nate -
Hate to be the bearer of bad news but your link doesn't seem to be working.

Thanks, Dude.

Isn't it much cheaper if you simply lie about having gone to Harvard?

While not explicitly stated in the excellent article above, the situation also highlights the efficiency vs. resiliency issue.

Money is efficient, barter is resilient. Status symbols (Harvard diploma, BMW) are efficient for social interactions, while conversations, shared experiences, and relationships are resilient.

Efficient is easy. It's a quick fix, like a drug. But nearly all drugs attack various symptoms and don't get at the underlying causes of the problem.

Pain-killers may remove the pain and feel pretty damn good sometimes, but ignore the root causes of stress or poor diet. The core problems continue, so the symptoms continue, so the need for pain-killers continues.

Antidepressants may make one feel better, but cover up various social deficiencies of not enough positive social interaction, contact with other living things, or options to work for a meaningful or purposeful existence, not to mention exercise, diet, clean water, or sunlight.

Even antibiotics, while curing disease in a very limited fashion, ignore the problems of overpopulation and lack of hygiene. Plus, the germs become resistant, requiring new antibiotics to be continually developed.

I think maybe that money, and its efficient status symbols, cover up for a lack of interpersonal skills, social experience, and emotional awareness. And maybe even a deficiency or atrophy of mirror neurons.

I plan to check out this book.

Hi Nate. This is truly a revolution that is occurring in our understanding of the animal within. This lies at the very heart of our resource decay.

I read today where the Chinese, to stimulate consumption of Chinese products, were expanding their promotion of upgrading household appliances from rural areas to the cities. I wonder how you can sex up a kitchen kettle???

Just what we don't need.



I asked for it. Now I know it is possible to sex up anything-well almost. The 100 kg Bearded Lady would be a challange. LOL.

Leanan, did you know about Miller-McCune as a source for articles for Drumbeat? They have quite a few articles on oil, energy, electricity, and more that we discuss here often. Here is the website:

They do allow comments to the articles. Not many comments being made though. A few of their articles could definitely use some PO perspective comments.

Wonder if CERA considered water in their study.

From Running Out of Steam.

Energy production accounted for around 68% of water consumption in the Athabasca Basin in 2007: Heating Up in Alberta.

Petrobank are at work on a commercial demonstration of THAI: Petrobank First Quarter Production Hits 43,856 BOEPD

The May River Project is our first large-scale commercial THAITM project on Petrobank's oil sands leases west of Conklin, Alberta. The May River project design builds on the experience gained from the Whitesands pilot. This project will be built in phases, with initial production capacity of 10,000 barrels of THAITM oil per day, and an ultimate capacity of up to 100,000 bopd.

Of course not. Or the NatGas necessary to create steam
to melt dirt, rather than send it directly to the consumer.

Can't do both.


Nothing in the press releases about water or NG. They did manage this rather amazing leap of logic, though:

CERA said that extracting crude from the oilsands emits far more greenhouse gases compared with the average barrel consumed in the United States. However, it said that when a “well-to-wheels” analysis is used, which measures emissions from extraction all the way to consumption, oilsands emissions are only five per cent to 15 per cent higher than the average barrel processed in the U.S. That is because 70 per cent to 80 per cent of total carbon emissions from crude oil come from burning refined products like gasoline, CERA claims.

You speak in riddles, Yergin-san. Haven't seen any jobbers hauling around raw bitumen lately.

"The End Game Draws Nigh − The Future Evolution of the Debt−to−GDP Ratio" from Leanan Above:

"The availability of credit dried up almost everywhere in the course of six months, from Auckland to Iceland. We stressed that this credit contraction had little to do with "globalization" as properly understood, and had no counter-part in history."

Just like someone had just turned off the oil spigot.

Cantarell must be below 775 000 bbl per day by now.

Not completely shut off Mc. Recently read a story about a US "bank" (apparently some quasi-gov't supported operation) which has just loaned PEMEX a couple of billion $'s with $300 million earmarked for Cantarell field. Whether that helps to slow the decine rate or not remains to be seen. But there are strings attached. Most of the money has to be spent on US goods and service companies. Not a bad plan as long as PEMEX doesn't eventually default. If I recall correctly something like 80% of the bank's outstanding loans are with Mexico.

I read that as well.

But as has been mentioned repeatedly here at TOD and elsewhere,

the oil brought up faster just brings the water cap up
and depletes the field in a more inefficient way.

Not even counting the oil that is permanently bypassed.

Just like credit, eh? the debt overwhelms it as more is drawn out quicker. Until you're just bringing up debt stained with credit.

True Mc. That's why I slipped in that subtle comment about Mexico defaulting on these debts. Even though capitalized I still have serious doubts about PEMEX abilities to halt the slide. Given the nightmare scenarios some have painted should the Mexican gov't begin failing to support their masses I don't think a major default is out of the question.

Rockman,thanks for all the great stuff you post here!The possibility of a Mexican collapse must be taken seriously.Anyone who wants a little extra perspective on the state of the world politically/militarily/economically can spend a very productive evening by going to USJFC the net and searching JOE2008.This document is a sort of military white paper or thought experiment put out at a high level to acquaint military planners and commanders with some of the problems they may face in coming years.

It touches on the possible failure of Mexico,as well as many other topics which are of interest to any reader of the Oil Drum.

Oh, that's real nightmare fodder. For the curious: JOE2008 PDF.

Unless there is a major change in the relative
reliance on alternative energy sources, which would
require vast insertions of capital, dramatic changes
in technology, and altered political attitudes toward
nuclear energy, oil and coal will continue to drive
the energy train. By the 2030s, oil requirements
could go from 86 to 118 million barrels a day

And they will, according to their source - IEA WEO.

Rapidly changing trends within the contexts
described in the previous section will have profound
implications for the character of war itself and the
methods by which the Joint Force will wage it. Yet, the
nature of war will remain closer to Agincourt than to
Star Trek.

You don't know the half of it, brother.

Thanks Dude that was an interesting read.

The ability to innovate in peacetime and adapt
during wars requires institutional and individual
agility. This agility is the product of rigorous education,
appropriate applications of technology and a rich
understanding of the social and political context in
which military operations are conducted. But above all,
innovation and adaptation require imagination and the
ability to ask the right questions.

Excuse me, General,Sir, but if By the 2030s, oil requirements could go from 86 to 118 million barrels a day are you sure you are even asking the right questions?

Fmaygar,if you read carefully you will see that the generals are indeed trying to ask the right questions.
Of course maybe your comment is really meant to be sarcastic,it is hard to tell for sure.

BTW-Is this complete like they say it is?

Gulf Crossing Pipeline

In January and February 2009, we completed construction and placed in service the pipeline portion of the assets associated with our Gulf Crossing project, which consists of approximately 357 miles of 42-inch pipeline that begins near Sherman, Texas and proceeds to the Perryville, Louisiana area. We expect the initial compression to be placed in service during the first quarter 2009, providing Gulf Crossing with a peak-day transmission capacity of 1.2 Bcf per day.

The Fayetteville Lateral, consisting of approximately 165 miles of 36-inch pipeline will originate in Conway County, Arkansas and proceed southeast through the Bald Knob, Arkansas, area to an interconnect with Texas Gas’ mainline in Coahoma County, Mississippi.

The Greenville Lateral, consisting of approximately 95 miles of 36-inch pipeline will originate at Texas Gas' mainline near Greenville, Mississippi and proceed east to the Kosciusko, Mississippi area. The Greenville Lateral will allow customers to access additional markets, primarily in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast.

In December 2008, we placed in service the header, or first 66 miles, of the Fayetteville Lateral. In January 2009, we placed in service a portion of the Greenville Lateral. Included in the Fayetteville header is a section of 18-inch pipeline under the Little Red River in Arkansas which will be replaced with 36-inch pipeline once a new horizontal directional drill is completed under the river. We expect the 36-inch pipeline installation to be completed in the second quarter of 2009. The initial peak-day transmission capacity of each of these laterals is approximately 0.8 Bcf per day. To increase the peak-day transmission capacity to approximately 1.3 Bcf per day for the Fayetteville Lateral and 1.0 Bcf per day for the Greenville Lateral, we will add compression facilities to this project and have applied to the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for authority to operate under a special permit that would allow these laterals to be operated at higher operating pressures, in addition to replacing the section of 18-inch pipeline noted above.


Thanx, James

Mc -- from what my production hands tell me the time lines are pretty much as described. But there are always delays. At least you wouldn't expect them to be paying over-time wages at the moment. But there are shale gas wells waiting on this p/l so there is money to be made. The trades vary quit a bit but in general a p/l gets paid by the volume transported and thus are less dependent upon comodity prices for the cash flow. Sometimes the tariff is tiend to NG prices...sometimes not.

Thanx for that, Roc

My brother just told me that Chesapeake just pulled it's welding crews
out of Clebourne County. They must've finished something.


Re: Vehicle Emission Rules to Tighten...

Obama wants to push CAFE up to 35.5 mpg. By 2016. Um, won't we be well post-peak by then, by many people's calculations? This seems to me to be too little, too late.

And let's not forget that Jevons' Paradox will creep in here as well- so while we get better mileage per car, this just gives more incentive to buy more cars.

I get your point lizard. But here another possible unintended outcome: increase gasoline consumption from older and increasing less efficient autos. Why? New CAFE standards will raise the price of new cars. Folks are unwilling/unable to buy a new as soon as they would otherwise. Unless we turn into a complete fascist state by that point in time the gov’t won’t force folks to buy certain autos. Which leads me to a question I’ve always had about CAFÉ: the law sets the millage requirements for cars offered for sale. The target is an average for cars OFFERRED FOR SALE AND NOT THOSE actually SOLD. If folks remain free to buy the car they want why wouldn’t they opt for the lower millage vehicles (just as they are doing right now)? Perhaps when the new CAFÉ standards kick in gasoline will be as cheap (or cheaper) then it is now. Don’t laugh: who predicted sub $2 gas when it was selling for over $4 just last year?

I agree with a slightly different version of your point of view... from cnn-

The proposed plan is expected to add about $600 to the cost of a car, the official said. That's on top of $700 added by changes to fuel economy rules that have already been recently enacted, the official said, but consumers should be able to save enough in gas to make up for the cost.

Ok, and that's all fine and dandy... Only $600, right? On a $15,000 vehicle, who cares...?

Well, no one is buying cars right now thanks to the economy...

Car sales continue to slide

Chrysler, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization this week and signed a deal to hand over its management to Italian carmaker Fiat, reported Friday that its U.S. vehicle sales plunged 48 percent in April from a year ago.

The precipitous slide was part of a continued weakness in car sales by virtually all manufacturers, foreign and domestic, that has led to massive government intervention in the U.S. auto industry, as well as sweeping job cuts and financial maneuvering that involves billions in federal loans and other help.

Franklin-based Nissan North America Inc. reported that April sales fell 37.8 percent to 47,190 vehicles from a year ago. Sales of its Nissan autos decreased 36.3 percent, while sales of Infiniti vehicles declined by 48.3 percent.

So you could have 100 mpg cars in the lot, but if no one has money/jobs/credit to buy them and continue to drive their 20 mpg scrappers, it doesn't matter.

There's only one problem with what you suggest. A straightforward way to achieve increased MPG is to build smaller, lighter weight vehicles with smaller engines and good aerodynamics. The trick is in the transmissions and there are already cars, such as those from Nissan, which have 6 speed or continuously variable transmissions. These cars tend to be the least expensive cars available. Of course, if you still want an energy guzzling SUV or PU drag generator, well, it's not likely that they will meet the new standards without expensive hybrid drive trains. Sorry about that...

E. Swanson

Of course, if you still want an energy guzzling SUV or PU drag generator, well, it's not likely that they will meet the new standards without expensive hybrid drive trains. Sorry about that...

The new standard allows two separate classes, light trucks (SUVs and PUs) are allowed a fleet average of 26.5 in the new standard. So the light truck CAFE standard has only been bumped a little bit. One potential drawback, those who want gas hogs will move from car buying to SUV buying. If you count little SUVs, like RAV4 and the Santa-Fe in the light truch category, it may not be that hard to meet the fleet average -simply sell enough hybrid small SUVs.

The 2016 car standard looks pretty aggressive to me (although far to little for PO). We have two hybrids, a Camry, and a Prius. Add those two together by CAFE rules, and they don't meet the standard!

There's only one problem with what you suggest.

No, the problem is the mindset that we can't do without big gas guzzling cars and that we have to drive them everywhere when we could walk or ride a bike or take the train.


I would still be driving this car if it hadn't been rear ended by an idiot who didn't beleive in stopping at a red light.

It was the 70 hp 5 speed manual transmission version and it was in perfect mechanical condition. With the seat folded down I moved I put more cargo in it than most people put in their SUVs.
With the air conditioning turned off I easily got more than 40 mpg at a speed of 50 mph in 5th gear.

To say the least, I'm rather unimpressed by current legislation to require improved fuel efficiency in new cars.

As for the argument that Americans won't put up with vehicles that don't offer all the options and power of the behemoths they currently take for granted, may I suggest they take a wheel barrow fill it with rocks and push it for an hour in the hot sun. I could also put it a bit less diplomatically...

How about those tuk-tuks that are used predominantly in S.E. Asia and South America. They could be one solution for short trips of less then 50 miles. They have a fuel efficiency of around 82 mpg and can carry about 3-4 people and some luggage. They are less energy intensive to build, light, mobile etc.


Right-wing talkers are relentlessly putting out the meme that any small car is a death trap. As an example, the pinhead talker Jason Lewis is saying that the government should be blamed for killing millions of people if the legislation for increased CAFE standards gets put into law.

He also claimed that the government forced the introduction of MTBE into gasoline and that this is also killing people.

Jason Lewis is just one of the wingnuts saying this but people have a high opinion of him because he actually sounds smart. That apparently gives him credibility. Can you guess that he also doesn't believe in oil depletion?

In any case, the death-trap opinion is gaining traction from the amount of discussion it is getting.

When you Love Life, and you're "Pro-Life", then there's nothing wrong with sacrificing a couple of polar bears (and a few million Bangladeshi's) to assert our God-given right to exercise dominion over Mother Nature. We shall prevail. /sarcasm

“Open the Gates that the Righteous Nation May Enter”

Most of these talkers don't exert fundie principles. They think their intelligence is the dominionist factor. In fact pure free-market capitalism and libertarianism is their religion. Two sides to the same coin. They are just as nutz as the fundies.


I always thought that the CAFE mileage standards were based on a sales-weighted average of the EPA mileage figures for the company's individual models. Whether the sales figures used are the previous year's sales or projected sales, or whatever, I am not sure.

One thing I've observed about the car market over these last several decades is that the actual sales price appears to have risen considerably steeper than the overall inflation rate. For example, a 1963 Chevy Impala Super-Sport V8, a top-of-the-line model, had a base price of under $3,000. Even if you add 25% or so for a generous amount of options, you still have a drive-away price of under $4,000.

Now, I understand that today's cars have far more 'content' (an auto industry euphemism for largely unnecessary features and options), but even a medium-priced mid-size car will be in the range of $24,000. That is about 6 times the 1963 prices.

I think one of the reasons the auto companies have been able to get away with loading up on content and hence prices, is quite obvious: leasing. Leasing is merely another form of debt financing, in this case the auto dealer borrows money to buy the car and then leases it to you for a profit. It is my understanding that more than half of all new cars 'sold' are actually leased rather than bought.

The result is much akin to what has happened in the housing market: just as many people were able to buy houses they couldn't possibly afford, so too many people have been driving cars they couldn't possibly afford. One can often tell just by the appearance of some of the people driving some pretty expensive machinery.

So, if people were forced to pay cash up front for a new car, you can bet that i) they would buy less car, and ii) the mix of cars available for sale would be far more basic and have far less useless 'content'. Perhaps the unavailability of easy credit will push the auto industry in a simpler direction. Unfortunately, Obama's newly proposed federal regs for the auto industry appears to run in a counter direction.

joule -- I don't know the details either but it difficult to imagine an auto maker changing his production schedule on a year to year basis. It seems as though your implying that inorder to reach a mandated average a car maker would have to refuse the sell his inventory of low millage cars if folks didn't buy enough highmillage models.

Hopefully someone at TOD can straighten out our thoughts on the details.

As I understand the issue of corporate average fuel economy from reading automotive magazines some years ago the system involved increasing penalties up to refusal to allow the sale of gas guzzlers unless the cafe goal was met,which is pretty much the same thing as you and Joule are saying.Of course the Detriot lobbyists were successful in exempting so called trucks which have since been marketed as so called cars and suvs.It has been a long time since I quit the car mags,so I could be both wrong and /or out of date.

So we got the worst of both worlds-cars that burned gas like loaded trucks but this strategy did help postpone the day of reckoning for the domestic automakers for a few more years.I personally see this as unfortunate,because they might have been in better shape today had CAFE worked as originally intended.

6X price in 46 years is only 4% price inflation per year. That's probably not unreasonable. Now if you add the federal and state requirements that have been added since 1963, its actually an amazing accomplishment on the part of the carmakers:
-crash bumpers
-padded dashboards
-collapsable steering columns
-dual brake circuits
-anti-lock brakes
-safety door latches
-emission controls, HUGH emission controls!
-rollover protection
Then add the items that everyone thinks they can't live without:
-Air conditioning
-electric windows
-Power steering
-Power brakes
-Stereo, Bluetooth, CD player, etc.
-electric door locks

4% a year is a miracle.

The cars are safer, faster, cleaner, more reliable, get better gas mileage than they did in 1963.

I know. I was there.

Unfortunately they all weigh 4000 pounds

To add to your first list:
-Side impact counter measures
-and, I kid you not, cupholders!

And to add to your second:
-NAV screens
-Onstar or equivalent

I agree, 4% is miraculous.

jjhman -

I totally agree that modern cars are safer, more reliable, more fuel efficient, and just plain better than those of 1963 vintage (I was there too.)

However, that is somewhat beside the point I was trying to make: the price of new cars has risen to a point where many people could not afford to drive them if it weren't for the widespread practice of leasing, which is nothing more than a form of debt-financing.

As far a a 4% a year increase in price being a miracle, maybe from a purely technical production standpoint, but ask yourself this question: Has the median US after-tax per capita income increased 6-fold since 1963? If not, then it follows that it is harder for the median wage-earner to afford a new car than it was in 1963. Another reason why we have evolved into an increasingly debt-based economy.

Better mileage would not make one want more cars but it might make one want to drive that car more miles. If VMT resumes an uphill climb after the recession (if there is an after) then these efficiencies will be wiped out by increased miles driven.

"The status quo is no longer acceptable," Obama said at a White House ceremony. "We have done little to increase fuel efficiency of America's cars and trucks for decades."

"As a result of this agreement, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years," Obama added. "And at a time of historic crisis in our auto industry, this rule provides the clear certainty that will allow these companies to plan for a future in which they are building the cars of the 21st century."

Read this passage very carefully. Pull out the following words;
- The status quo is no longer acceptable
- save 1.8 billion barrels of oil
- time of historic crisis
- plan for a future

If you were the president and knew that Peak Oil was passed. How could you package up this message in an euphamism and try to sell it to the public?

How could you package up this message in an euphamism and try to sell it to the public?

The Drive Through is closed. Please park your bicycle and come inside. Please Come again. Thank you for your support! God Bless!

Either that or:

"She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes, when she comes, when she comes, "She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes, when she comes, when she comes... She'll be driving six white horses ...and we'll kill the big red sportster rooster...

It's his way of saying these are the cars we'll be driving for the rest of the 21st century.

Not really, he's saying we all need one of these, regardless of whether or not they are realistically viable or not.


Maybe the government will forcibly merge Chrysler and GM and use the newly formed Obama Motors CO. to build one of these for ever American. The future is bright!

Heaven forbid our culture abandons eating out. :P


No, just do away with the quick snatch of a bite in the fast lane.
We'll all come out ahead if slow down and savour what we eat.

I we stop eating out where will they get the fuel for those vehicles that run on used french fry oil?

I'm just an ignorant doomer, but wouldn't the wheels of those Apteras be really handy for suddenly snagging pedestrians or dogs or stop signs? I get queasy just watching footage of one of those Motown-meets-Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea 3 wheelers.

Remember that Tacos commercial they had a few years back, the one with the Chihuahua saying "Here lizard, lizard... cut to speeding Aptera zipping around the corner... cut again to Aptera disappearing in the distance with Chihuahua bouncing along behind it with the leash caught in the struts.

Thanks Dragonfly.

Even if he's hedging or only partially convinced, it's better than the wince-generating babble that's coming out of the energy talks in Congress today from the right.

Barton R-TX on C-span this morning, going on about how those admirably efficient cars weren't as comfortable as a big car..

Check out my link to the Aptera commercial.

Hey, what's there not to like about a vehicle that gets out of the air's way by using bio mimicry?! I mean seriously.

Hell, I'd go! I'd love to take a ride in that.

Here's a little brother to that, a few hundred pounds lighter, and several thou cheaper (but not all that cheap!) Drive Defensively!

Electric and Pedal powered Velo Trike

I Like!

But what you really need is a whole fleet of these.


If you build it, they won't come...

US housing starts, permits hit record lows in April

New U.S. housing starts and permits unexpectedly fell to record lows in April, a government report showed on Tuesday, denting hopes that stability in the housing market was imminent.

The Commerce Department said housing starts fell 12.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 458,000 units, the lowest on records dating back to January 1959, from March's upwardly revised 525,000 units.

"It obviously calls into question the notion that the housing market is stabilizing," said Brian Dolan, chief currency strategist at Forex.com in Bedminster, New Jersey.

This is actually a very good thing. We need to STOP BUILDING HOUSES. There is too much inventory out there... Also, remember that homes are usually built on the edge of town and their homeowners make long petroleum and ethanol consuming daily commutes to jobs that pay the mortgage of their home... In other words, the fewer houses built on the periphery of cities, the better.

Does the report say exactly what size buildings they are building?

All the new construction that I see is in the McMansion+++ size.

Single-family home construction was up. It was multi-family dwellings that were down a lot. That's not such a good thing, IMO.

The numbers are actually pretty stunning. It is the lowest level in absolute numbers since 1959, when the population wasn't much over half what it is now.

From the looks of it, I don't think a lot of (the large sized) single family homes will be sold.

Every week I drive by developments built two or so years ago with the same old sign:
Oddly, the quantity "x" hasn't changed...
or maybe they fired the sign updater.

If you sell it, they may come...

Treasury Dept. is giving 'cash-for-keys'

When all else fails, the Treasury Department is now willing to cough up cash to get homeowners to move on and to get loan servicers to forgive mortgage debt... the final step is a "deed in lieu of foreclosure," when borrowers voluntarily forfeit the deed and the debt may be erased.

Under the new initiatives, for short sales and deeds in lieu, borrowers will get up to $1,500 to assist with relocation expenses. Treasury will also pay the servicers $1,000 to complete a short sale or deed in lieu.

A deed in lieu can be the least painful way of ending a mortgage default nightmare, according to Pamela Simmons, a real estate attorney in California.

"Borrowers often prefer to end it quickly and cleanly," she said. "They just want to get it over with." And it's better than just walking away from a mortgage, a situation where the debt still looms....

Who is this good for?
The borrowers who may benefit most from this program are the ones who would still not be able to repay their mortgages under any reasonable workouts.

These would include delinquent borrowers who are way underwater, owing much more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, people who have lost their jobs with little hope of finding another and ones who have gone through a divorce or another life-changing event.

In those cases, they may be better off cutting their housing expenses by switching to a rental and the cash-for-keys is one more good reason to do so.

Cut your losses, I guess, and hand the keys off before they're taken...

A couple of new homes (one SFR, the other a 3-plex) are under construction in my neighborhood, on lots of homes burned down in Katrina or shortly thereafter.

Fast moving construction.

The 3-plex is very "green" (solar PV, etc.).


Look out 'cause this stuff is TOXIC

May 19, 2009 at 9:13 AM EDT

'We are now into the fourth generation of people exposed to toxic chemicals from before conception through to adulthood," writes noted health analyst Theo Colborn in the foreword to Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects our Health.

Its authors, Canadian environmental activists Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, describe our bodies as sponges soaking in harmful, petrochemical derivatives that leach out of common household objects - everything from the upholstered sofa and TV set to the popcorn bag and garden hose.

In one example, the authors estimate that by the time the average woman grabs her morning coffee, she has applied 126 chemicals in 12 products to her face, body and hair.


One side benefit to PO will likely be a reduction in the petrochemical derivatives found in human tissue.

If all these chemicals are bad for us then why has life expectancy nearly doubled over the last 100 years. The percentage of the population over 100 years old is a record levels.

Would it be too audacious to suggest that we are being kept alive longer with the availability of millions of energy slaves that grow lots of food, create extraordinary medical devices, rescue systems, and energy-rich 'Nature Obstruction Gear' (like the Air-Conditioning that came about as a way of dealing with living in Malarial environments..IIRC)

We are also seeing an absolute balooning in cancers, diabetes, developmental and birth defects..


From this date forward to 2000, the overall incidence of cancer in the U.S. rises by 55 percent, with lung cancer due to smoking accounting for only one-quarter of this increase. Rates for breast cancer and male colon cancer increase during this period by 60 percent; testicular cancer by 100 percent; adult brain cancer by 80 percent; childhood cancer by 20 percent.


Were these rates age adjusted? Most cancers occur in people middle aged and over. Since people are living longer and society is ageing generally you would expect the cancer rate to rise.

That link follows toxin-related health issues through the last century. I'm not sure what you meant by age adjusted, but the indication that several forms of Cancer in YOUNG people has grown ominously, drawing the 'cancer is an old-age disease' into question.

Since passage of the 1971 National Cancer Act, launching the "War Against Cancer," the incidence of childhood cancer has steadily escalated to alarming levels. Childhood cancers have increased by 26% overall, while the incidence of particular cancers has increased still more: acute lymphocytic leukemia, 62%; brain cancer, 50%; and bone cancer, 40%. The federal National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the "charitable" American Cancer Society (ACS), the cancer establishment, have failed to inform the public, let alone Congress and regulatory agencies, of this alarming information.
(2 of 7 examples at this link..) http://www.preventcancer.com/press/releases/may09_02.htm

# There is substantial evidence on the risks of brain cancer and leukemia in children from frequent consumption of nitrite-dyed hot dogs; consumption during pregnancy has been similarly incriminated. Nitrites, added to meat for coloring purposes, have been shown to react with natural chemicals in meat (amines) to form a potent carcinogenic nitrosamine.

# Consumption of non-organic fruits and vegetables, particularly in baby food, contaminated with high concentrations of multiple residues of carcinogenic pesticides, poses major risks of childhood cancer, besides delayed cancers in adult life.

As I understand it the big increase in life expectancy is due to the reduction in infant mortality. The second is due to the fact that chronically sick populations are technically kept alive with medical intervention (kinda like zombies).

If economic collapse curbs the amount of medical intervention then life expectancy will see a dramatic fall. Like everything else in our modern wonderland, enhanced life expectancy is not due to better health, it is just an illusion that masks a sick, ailing and increasingly degenerate human breeding stock.

I'm one of the chronically sick being kept alive with medical intervention like a zombie. I expect to die in short order when the economic collapse claims me, which will essentially be when I lose my job, as I'm in the US.

Knowing that Peak Oil is coming means knowing I should spend (and otherwise act) like there is no tomorrow, because for me, there isn't one.

If you mean appreciate every living moment, I can relate. If you mean waste as much as you can then I guess you don't have children.

One side benefit to PO will likely be a reduction in the petrochemical derivatives found in human tissue.

Really? Please convince me.

She knows the stuff she uses may cause harm, but she uses them anyway. Cosmetics are very profitable. If the oil can't (or isn't) used in cars, why not use them in cosmetics--or pharmaceuticals or packages? Until artificial cosmetics, toxic pharmaceuticals, and oil-based products are banned, they will still be made and used; there will always be enough oil for them. PO isn't going to do it.

Cosmetics have been killing people for thousands of years. Lead paint was normal, Hemlock not unusual.

Sure, we have more exotic and insidious poisens now, but we are just as stupid as we have always been.

Just happened to stumble across this on The Bank Implode-O-Meter site - of all places.

There Will Be Food Riots

More lenders are tightening their restrictions for agricultural loans in the Midwest at the same time that repayments on loans have dropped, The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City says.

The Federal Reserve reported Friday that its quarterly survey found that the percentage of lenders raising collateral requirements reached another record high in the Tenth Federal Reserve District. The rate of loan repayments also fell for the second straight quarter.

Turbulent agricultural conditions contributed to the tightened farm credit, the agency said.

“The thing to take away from all of this is … farmers are positioning themselves to get through turbulent times,” Federal Reserve economist Brian Briggeman said.

Don't look now, but after hours Bloomberg is showing above $60.



I mentioned in a recent Drumbeat that electricity rates in Nova Scotia will be subject to continuing upward pressure as our provincial utility transitions away from fossil fuels. This item in today's Chronicle Herald speaks to this point.

N.S. Power must cut dependence on coal
As the world punishes polluters with carbon taxes, the price of power produced from fossil fuels can only go up, URB chairman says

NOVA SCOTIA POWER’s days of generating big profits and greenhouse gases from burning coal may be coming to end, warns the chairman of Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board.

In his first interview since taking over the helm of the powerful regulatory agency six years ago, Peter Gurnham predicts that coal "is going to go from a cheap source of energy to a very expensive source of energy" in a world where governments everywhere are punishing greenhouse gas pollution.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/News/1122715.html


Over 3 GW of hydropower from Labrador (Lower Churchill Falls) is coming your way.

Best Hopes for renewable power,


...coming your way.

Coming their way, passing by and heading to places like New York and Connecticut.

Ownership matters. A lot.

cfm in windmill energy plantation Maine

Hi Alan,

I, for one, hope you're right, but if that 2.8 GW of hydro power does make it onshore come 2015 -- and at this point, this only one of several potential export routes under consideration -- I fully expect the vast majority of it to sail on to New England. Larry Hughes' take on this is bang on; to whit:

Replacing supplies of energy to meet Nova Scotia’s existing and future electrical needs will be a challenge, given the twin problems of energy security and climate change. The province’s overwhelming reliance on coal from Venezuela and Columbia and the proposals for more intermittent wind will do little to improve energy security and reduce carbon emissions.

To improve energy security it will be necessary to find secure sources of domestic electricity. Although New Brunswick is pushing for 1,000 MW of new nuclear and Newfoundland and Labrador expect to have 2,800 MW from Gull Island and Muskrat Falls (Lower Churchill) on-line sometime in the next decade, there are other players with designs on these supplies of electricity—in other words, there is no guarantee that Nova Scotia will have access to them. Furthermore, even if Nova Scotia could enter into contracts for this energy, the competition will be such that the total may only be a few hundred megawatts.

Source: http://www.gov.ns.ca/energy/resources/spps/energy-strategy/submissions/J...

My bright, sunny blue-sky guess is that NSP might obtain 300 MW.


One of my JazzFest guests is doing consulting on the power line. He is pushing for a tunnel between Labrador & Newfoundland (icebergs scraping the bottom of that channel).

Coming ashore in Nova Scotia is leading the list :-)

The existing Churchill Falls plant can be expanded by about 1,000 MW. Some for Newfoundland but 3+ GW is possible for the cable to Nova Scotia.


I'm sure your friend will greatly enjoy his time spent in NO.

The key point is that Nova Scotia is the conduit, not the primary beneficiary. Virtually all of our off-shore natural gas is exported to New England and this would be no different (even the natural gas under long-term contract to NSP is re-sold to the US purportedly to help keep domestic rates low, CO2 emissions and local air quality be damned). When negotiating a PPA, it's pretty hard to compete with RI, MA or CT where electricity rates are two to three times greater than our own.


Behind a paywall, but you can get in through Google...

IEA Cites a Plunge in Search for Oil - Downturn Sets Up Surge in Oil Prices

LONDON -- Energy investment is "plunging" because of the recession, paving the way for oil-price surges within three years, the International Energy Agency warned in a new report.

The Paris-based watchdog for the world's major energy-consuming nations said that in recent months, oil companies and investors have canceled or postponed about $170 billion of investment equivalent to roughly two million barrels a day in future oil supply.

I was heartened by the mileage announcement today. I realize that it won't 'save the world' and that we have had since 1973 to do this and on and on, but I am still grateful that this action is being taken. Would we rather that he lowered or did away with CAFE?

We would have had something like this in 2001 if Gore was President...and yes, if/when 9-11 happened under Gore (as it did under W), then the imperative to increase fuel efficiency and minimize our imports from ME counties would have redoubled for just that reason (environment+lessened dependence on ME suppliers), rather than W's tax giveaway for buying grossly huge, fuel-inefficient vehicles.

So, the wisdom of our voters eschewed electing someone who would have confronted some actual important issues to instead elect a weak, pale-shadow version of Ronnie Ray-Gun to lead us on another 8-year delusional feel-good, America is #1 trip...featuring a ME theocracy-themed land-grab to secure oil...while amping up oil consumption, killing our soldiers, sowing the seeds for a hundred more Osama Bin Ladens, weakening environmental protections, and encouraging creating a police state.

Elections have consequences. Hope all those Bush voters (twice) enjoyed the ride.

I would rather have seen a comprehensive gas rationing plan.

Politics is the art of the possible. There is no way Obama could have gotten that through Congress, especially with gas prices falling again.

That said...I really don't care much about CAFE one way or another. I think the low-hanging fruit has been picked when it comes to fuel efficiency. And I think Jevons paradox is ever the problem if you try "improving efficiency" as the solution.

The real low-hanging fruit for fuel efficiency is for folks to admit that it isn't small cars that are unsafe, it is overlarge vehicles that are a hazard.

Special vehicle licensing should be required to operate any vehicle with a curb weight over 2 tons.

Special vehicle licensing should be required to operate any vehicle with a curb weight over 2 tons.

I already have one, it's called a CDL, granted the weight limitation starts a bit higher...

Quite a bit higher. 2 tons is approximately the curb weight of a full-size luxury sedan.

The current threshold for a CDL in MN is 13T GVW.

My inspiration was not the CDL, however, but in the way MN handles motorcycle licensing. There is (was? I can't find it now) a 2-level certification in that to be certified for larger (>400cc) cycles you needed to take your road test on one.

Yeah I get your point.

Mine was that you do need to pass a specific test to get a CDL.
The average SUV driver for example hasn't a clue about their vehicle's characteristics or even how to really drive it competently. Yet they are allowed to drive a 4 to 5 thousand pound vehicle with the same license that someone who has a Honda civic gets, and this at the ripe old age of 16 years...

My brother lives in Germany and his daughter recently got her driver's license it cost about 3500 euros. Maybe if a license cost $4000.00 US that might change peoples perception about driving.

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."
-Rahm Emmanuel-

For rationing to succeed it requires such a time of crisis as now.
To borrow an example from the pro-taxers the initial quota should be set comfortably high, the coupon system established and working and then gradually whittle down the amount that can be purchased.
The Important Thing is to get people used to it being in place, especially now when demand is down.
Someone on the May 20 Drumbeat calls it "quota", whatever.

As for the rest of your argument gas prices are on the rise again.
AND the low hanging fruit HAS been picked.
AND Jeavons Paradox won't apply to rationing.
Of course Obama could get this through Congress, if his intention was to reduce emissions.
What BO has done however, is to ensure the future of vehicles like the Volt and the companies that produce them. (For which I am grateful since it may result in my being employed a bit longer.)
But there is nothing artful in the way the current administration operates.
They simply enjoy the majority vote.

The only surefire, non punitive way to reduce the consumption and emissions of gasoline is to ration.

I think Bush (or someone like him) had to happen. And it was probably better that it happened then instead of now.

If Gore had won, we'd probably have the neocons in office now, more eager than ever to project American power into the Middle East. Simply because Americans tend to get tired of the party in power after awhile, and want a change.

My guess is that Gore would still have gone to war in Afghanistan, and it would be falling apart now (as it actually is). The right-wingers would be arguing, as they have ever since Vietnam, that the problem was our soldiers weren't being allowed to fight. And they would still be hungrily eying the "low-hanging fruit" of Iraq.

Now, I think invasions are probably off the table for awhile. And we have Bush to thank for that.

So yeah, I think elections have consequences. But rarely the ones anticipated.

"And we have Bush to thank for that."

Quote of the Day.
If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him (him= Bush pilot), you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.