Drumbeat: November 11, 2011

Oil Riches Pile on China Doorstep as Clashes Delay Drilling

To China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, another Saudi Arabia of oil may lie beneath the ocean to its south. Escalating regional tensions mean large-scale drilling may be slipping further into the future.

The South China Sea may hold 213 billion barrels of oil, or 80 percent of Saudi Arabia’s reserves, according to Chinese studies cited in 2008 by the U.S. Energy Information Agency. The world’s second-largest economy claims “indisputable sovereignty” over most of the sea, including blocks off Vietnam that Exxon Mobil Corp. and Russia’s Gazprom OAO are exploring.

Stuart Staniford: Global Liquids Production reaching New Heights in October

Still not peak oil (or at least not peak liquid fuels). With the IEA and OPEC both reporting through October (and the EIA through July) it seems reasonably likely that October has pipped the pre-Libya heights of January.

How’s it feel to already be living in a post-peak oil apocalypse?

The International Energy Agency says peak oil came and went -- in 2006. The only reason we're not already paying $10 a gallon for gas and generally Mad Maxing it up is that there was this thing called a recession.

Crude Futures Head for Longest Run of Weekly Gains in New York Since 2009

Oil headed for the longest run of weekly gains since April 2009, on speculation that signs of U.S. economic growth and Europe’s steps to contain its debt crisis will support fuel demand.

Crude climbed as much as 0.8 percent in New York and is poised for a sixth weekly increase. The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell to a seven- month low, a Labor Department report showed yesterday. Italy’s Senate approved a key budget bill today to clear the way for new leadership, while Greece formed a unity government.

As Oil Production Rises, Libya Expects to Hit Prewar Levels by June

TRIPOLI, Libya — The acting Libyan oil minister, Ali Tarhouni, said on Thursday that so much progress was being made in resuscitating the country’s oil fields that production would return to more than 40 percent of its prewar level by the end of the year and completely recuperate by June.

Frontline Jumps Most Since 1998 as Demand to Charter Oil Tankers Builds

Frontline Ltd., the top global operator of supertankers, headed for its biggest weekly gain since December 1998 on signs of stronger demand to charter the largest crude-oil carriers.

Tanker-Derivatives May Shift from Half-Century-Old System to Spur Trading

Traders and investors who bet on the cost of shipping oil may decide next week to move pricing of derivatives away from a method dating back half a century in an effort to spur use of the contracts.

About 50 users of the tanker derivatives will meet Nov. 17 to vote on scrapping so-called Worldscale points as a basis for prices, Jeremy Penn, chief executive officer of the London-based Baltic Exchange, said in an interview yesterday. If a consensus is reached, prices will be uniformly expressed in dollars a metric ton starting in January, he said.

LNG Boom May Prompt Russia to Court Qatar in Gas Project

Russia may use a meeting of the world’s largest natural gas exporters to forge partnerships with rivals designed to boost production as international trade in the fuel booms.

Obama delays oil pipeline, Neb. claims victory

LINCOLN, Neb.—Nebraska rancher Bruce Boettcher was ecstatic when he learned the rumors swirling out of Washington were true: plans to build a 1,700-mile oil pipeline from Canada to Texas were on hold to study how environmentally sensitive areas in his state could be avoided.

He'd fought the project with neighbors whose land also sits atop the Ogallala aquifer, a massive underground water supply in the pipeline's path -- and at the epicenter of the national debate. Nebraska officials including its Republican governor pushed against the project, as had environmentalists and national groups.

Keystone Pipeline May Not ‘Survive’ U.S. Delay, Flaherty Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. State Department’s decision to delay its review of TransCanada Corp.’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline until after next year’s presidential election may doom the project and accelerate Canada’s efforts to ship crude to Asia, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.

Canada's PM says oil pipeline still has US support

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday he sees overwhelming U.S. support for TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL oil pipeline to Texas from Canada's oil sands, despite recent signs of reticence in Washington.

Keystone Delay Helps Obama Rekindle Environmentalist Support

Delaying a decision on TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline will help President Barack Obama repair frayed relations with environmentalists as he runs for re-election.

Rio marchers protest Brazil's oil royalty plan

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Thousands of demonstrators rallied in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday against an oil law that could cost the beachside city and surrounding state billions of dollars in revenues.

The protest comes as lawmakers in Congress continue to wrangle over a proposal to distribute the proceeds of Brazil's booming energy industry more widely among states, a dispute that has slowed the development of massive offshore reserves and created a political headache for President Dilma Rousseff.

Venezuela's Perez would revise Cuba oil deal

(Reuters) - A leading opposition candidate hoping to challenge Venezuela's Hugo Chavez at next year's presidential election would revise preferential oil deals with Cuba and other Central American nations if he wins.

Sinochem Plans to Raise Up to 35 Billion Yuan in Biggest China IPO in 2011

Sinochem Corp. plans to raise as much as 35 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) in an initial public offering to fund an oil refinery project, in what would be China’s sixth-biggest IPO.

Sinopec to Pay $3.54B for Stake in Galp Unit

China Petrochemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, said it agreed to pay $3.54 billion for a 30 percent stake in Galp Energia SGPS SA (GALP)’s Brazilian unit, the nation’s largest overseas acquisition this year.

China says no reason to target its firms over Iran

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and Iran have normal business ties which should not be targeted by any new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday, repeating that in any case sanctions were not the solution.

Iraq govt warned Exxon against Kurdish deals-official

(Reuters) - Iraq's government warned Exxon Mobil last month that any oil exploration contract it signed with the Kurdistan Regional Government would be illegal and could result in termination of its deal to develop the West Qurna oilfield, a senior Iraqi oil official said on Friday.

PG&E finds corrosion on gas pipelines

Pressure tests on natural gas pipelines in California led PG&E revealed a leak on a 24-inch pipe in Palo Alto, Calif.

The leak was on a section of the pipeline that exploded in San Bruno, Calif., last year, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.

Pa. shale rules fall short, critics say

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Proposed legislation in Pennsylvania outlining development of the Marcellus shale play doesn't do enough to protect the state's environment, critics say.

ConocoPhillips 'negiglent' over Bohai Bay

ConocoPhillips China’s oil leak in Bohai Bay was a major accident caused by negligence, Chinese marine authorities have found.

How To Put A Value On Oil Damaged Life In The Gulf

A law passed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill requires the government to assess the biological damage from big spills so fines can be fixed and damage paid for. The National Academy of Sciences has a report describing the methods and metrics of determining the "ecosystem services" that have been lost due to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Utility: Japan nuke crews' conditions improving

NARAHA, Japan—The utility that runs Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear station says conditions for thousands of workers there have improved significantly -- although it may take decades to safely close the facility. To show off the progress, it allowed media into the plant's main staging area Friday for the first time.

Germany to Resume Search for Nuclear Waste Site, Minister Says

Germany will restart the search for a site to store its most dangerous nuclear waste, working to achieve a “national consensus” on the issue first, the environment minister said.

How to rebuild our nation's roads and rails

So where does the money come from?

I would be much more aggressive placing tolls on roads and bridges, which would create a revenue stream that can be leveraged. There are hundreds of billions that could be raised from pension funds, trust funds, even foreign investors.

This administration wants to make big bets on high-speed passenger rail. How realistic is that?

You tell me what the price of gas is, and I'll tell you what I think of high-speed rail. Unless we want to price gasoline like Europe, I don't think European-style high-speed passenger rail will ever be workable. Maybe we'll see it work in the Northeast corridor and California -- but to build out the top 30 cities on high-speed rail would cost $1 trillion.

Sumitomo May Expand Sodium-Ion Battery Sales to Carmakers

Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. (5802) plans to sell a sodium-ion battery it is developing to makers of electric and hybrid passenger cars, expanding beyond the original target of commercial-vehicle fleet operators.

India Solar Projects Face Financing Crunch as Banks Near Limits

Government-sponsored banks that funded India’s nascent solar industry when commercial lenders were wary may begin curbing financing, according to an official from a U.S. agency that finances developing country projects.

Euro Debt Crisis Slowing Solar Panel Installs, SMA Solar Says

Europe’s debt crisis will cause global solar-panel demand to fall this year before returning to “moderate growth” in 2012, Germany’s biggest solar-power company by market value said.

Biggest Silicon Maker Slows Expansion, Cuts Tennessee Workers

The Hemlock Semiconductor Group, the world’s biggest maker of polysilicon, is delaying plans to expand at a site in Tennessee.

Hemlock, based in the Michigan town of the same name, has put off plans to add additional phases at its Clarksville, Tennessee plant because of a lack of demand, Jerrod Erpelding, a company spokesman, wrote in an e-mail today. He said the company is cutting a “small percentage” of the 2,500 contractors working at the site.

Solyndra: Energy Department failed to sound alarm as solar company sank

At a number of points in its troubled history, the solar company Solyndra faced dire financial problems that threatened its survival. Yet at each crisis, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and officials at his agency failed to take steps that critics say could have limited taxpayer losses when the company collapsed last summer.

Cameron Scored ‘Own Goal’ With Solar Subsidy Cuts, CBI Says

Prime Minister David Cameron’s government scored an “own goal” by cutting subsidies for solar energy four months earlier than planned, the U.K.’s biggest business lobby group said.

Molycorp Cuts Rare-Earth Forecast as Profit Misses Estimates

Molycorp Inc. (MCP), owner of the largest rare-earth deposit outside China, posted third-quarter profit and revenue that missed analysts’ estimates after sales volumes were less than it had forecast.

Egypt shows faith in renewable energy with wind farm tender

Bidding for a 1,000 megawatt wind farm has begun, and shows the Egyptian government's intent to meet its ambitious renewable energy target.

More homes heat with wood, raising pollution risks

As energy prices rise, and winter approaches, more Americans are turning to wood to heat their homes, some hurrying to cash in on tax credits for efficient stoves that expire next month.

This upswing is prompting federal officials, concerned about the health and environmental impact of burning wood, to update 23-year-old certification criteria for stoves and set the first requirements for outdoor wood boilers, which heat water that's piped into homes.

The Unlikely Champion of a Water Bottle Ban

“This is a big issue for us, and we are trying to proactively address it,” he said in an interview for an article in Thursday’s paper on a decision by the National Park Service director to scuttle a planned water-bottle ban that park personnel, Xanterra and its fellow concessionaire, Delaware North, had spent months preparing for.

“We would like to see the ban of all petroleum-derived plastic water bottles in national parks,” Mr. Lane said.

With Anger Over Dirty Air Rising, Beijing Tries Tours of Monitoring Center

BEIJING — Environmental officials who have resisted releasing comprehensive data about air pollution here in the capital announced that they would take action to address increasing complaints that the government’s monitoring system fails to report on the most dangerous airborne particles emitted by the growing ranks of cars and trucks.

Coal Project Hits Snag as a Partner Backs Off

WASHINGTON — The leading American effort to capture carbon dioxide from coal plants has hit a stumbling block that could imperil the project and set back a promising technology for addressing global warming, people involved in the venture said.

Africa: Contesting a 'Just Transition to a Low Carbon Economy'

Obviously, the transition to a low carbon or green economy has massive implications for labour. Historically, the labour movement in South Africa has neglected environmental issues. This is largely because of a widespread understanding that environmental protection threatened jobs.

China Plans to Challenge EU Over Aviation Emissions by Year-End

Chinese airlines aim to take the European Union to court by the end of the year over its plan to enforce emissions curbs on flights to and from the region’s airports, an official with China’s air travel association said.

Azerbaijan Sees 2012 Oil Output Down 13% On-Year At 45 Million-46 Million Tons

Azerbaijan is expected to produce between 45 million and 46 million tons of crude oil next year, a 13% fall from 2011, an official at the country's state oil company Socar said Friday.

no biggie. we're drowning in oil anyway!

(yes, I’m bored, in London for an assignment, and growing more and more skeptical of all the energy related statements out there. It’s quite clear that that the net number of BTUs (and certainly per capita) is not going up .
The Thelma and Louise aspect is not lost on me. It is exactly what we are doing. One of the guy in the office is going to Turkey for a long weekend with his wife+2 kids. But hey, it’s only a couple of hundred quid. And yes, I remember all the “immigrant “ (turkey and north Africa) workers in northern Europe when I lived there…..

The individuals at the executive level of BP management don't care whether BP gets hit with big fines. Even if some of them lose their jobs, they still walk away with their fat salaries, stock options, and severance packages GCCF.

No, the way you deal with this problem and all other corporate crime is to repeal the concept of corporate personhood and go after the personal assets of the bastards in charge.

Threaten a rich executive with losing his job, and all he sees is an early retirement and more time on the golf course.

Threaten to make him a poor man, send him to jail, and put his family on the street and you'll see a guy motivated to do the right thing for a change.

A Call for Ideas

A staff member of a major environmental group has asked me for ideas on how to reduce oil use (mainly US) in the next 2, 5 and 10 years. This is for a policy strategy meeting next week.

I am developing my own list, but would VERY much other ideas :-)

I will post my own later.

One is to encourage children to walk and bike to school more. Another is to encourage peopel to move away from oil heating, etc. etc.

Best Hopes,


I try to buy things with less plastic, especially excessive packaging. I needed some computer parts this week and found "oem" parts that weren't packaged for retail; just cardboard boxes - same parts, and they cost less. We also buy food in bulk and store stuff in glass canning jars. I've always thought that excessive packaging should be discouraged somehow. Avoid disposable products. Some of the stuff I see is just crazy (air fresheners?!).

Learn to use a rake instead of a blower; clippers instead of a weed eater. Better yet, give tax credits for yard goats and chickens: no mowing, free fertilizer ;-)

Excess packaging must be cut. I saw a video camera in Costco, yesterday, that was the size of a fist but the volume occupied by the packaging was that of a briefcase. It is not only the direct use of the plastic but the increased volume requires more fuel to move it.


The excess packaging is most to deter shoplifters.

Amazon.com has a program to minimize packaging. Since shoplifting isn't a problem for them, they don't need it. And they are big enough that manufacturers are willing to accommodate them.

There are other methods that don't cause so much damage such as tags. Why do they need to put a tiny USB memory stick on a huge card when it can be collected at the checkout? Other stores have a card that you take to the checkout then trade for the item.


System 1: customers in line behind get fidgety waiting while the clerk goes and fetches the item(s).

System 2: customer takes the card(s) to another counter and waits in line a second time, a little bit like the endless multiple lines in stores in the old Soviet Union.

System 3: store provides enough clerks to keep the waiting in 1 or 2 short enough that customers don't get irritated. But they raise prices to pay the extra clerks.

Any of those ways, maybe next time customer(s) simply buy from Amazon instead.

Aw man, no wonder BAU is doing so well with that level of thinking.


Who is more efficient in terms of using less oil to haul things around? Amazon? WalMart-like "traditional" stores? i'd guess Amazon would be hard hit since they ship very small packages for large distances. Of course, the same container would be carrying other stuff, besides amazon's shipments... but I'd assume WalMart like places result in the last mile being a fairly short commute - and usually more consolidated (ie., more stuff being hauled even in the last-mile trip).

It's a difficult question. I would guess Wal-Mart is among the least efficient, because of its "big box" model. They tend to be located out in the boondocks, which increases fuel use both for their shipping and for their customers. An article in the CNN Money section a few years back noted that the entire Wal-Mart system was designed for cheap fuel, and the rise in prices really surprised and hurt them.

But the old model of downtown shopping was fairly fuel-efficient. Goods only had to be shipped to that shopping area, and it was often near a port or major highway that minimized shipping costs.

Online shopping reduces consumer fuel use, and companies like UPS are very good at maximizing efficiency. OTOH, the spike in online shopping has resulted in more trucks traveling local roads that were never meant to carry so much truck traffic. This has been a noticeable problem for state and local transportation departments. EBay may be the worst in this regard, because it means trucks traveling on local roads at both ends, the seller and the buyer.

I have been surprised when travelling (once every N years) by air, to see how much air freight is loaded below the passenger compartment on short/medium-haul jets. It seems to me that the cheap air freight system is inextricably entwined with cheap air fares for passengers... I am not sure who is subsidising whom, but if fewer people were buying tickets I assume the cost of air freight would go up sharply, or perhaps t'other way around. Again a case where an entire paradigm is based on cheap FF, and breaks down (probably nonlinearly) when the price goes up...

There is a study done (cannot find the link now, taking the exemple of yugurt packs I think) about the energy footprint of different distribution schemas, and their conclusion is that the "customer going to the shop by car" part is quite big in the walmart model (forgot the numbers)

Don't forget how many of the Walmart products (and probably most things you buy today overall) will also have to be replaced repeatedly, causing more trips.

I just did some garden work up at my daughter's school, and I walked up with my Dad's Crowbar, my Grandad's Hacksaw (tough carrots this year), and my Mom's Post-hole-digger and Clippers, holding onto tools that can last for decades to come.

The easy answer: Tax it.


- Taxing transportation fuel is an effective tactic which obviously works in Europe to reduce consumption.
- Taxes are easy and inexpensive to implement, at the retail or wholesale level.
- Taxes would generate tax revenue to offset taxes elsewhere, or reduce deficits.


- It is honest and transparent and immediately painful, and will thus likely be wildly unpopular.

I've witnessed all the shenanigans, expense, and subterfuge which is associated with the administration of complex government-supported programs to encourage energy efficiency. The goal of reducing oil consumption could be accomplished more efficiently and effectively with a simple tax: let the market work its magic, and people will come up with their own solutions.

Good luck!

Agree that technically easiest & by far the most efficient method to reduce use of oil is to substantially increase the taxes on oil, either directly on oil (e.g. add a per bbl tax on domestic oil production with a matching duty on imported oil), or indirectly on oil products (e.g. increase the excise tax on transport fuels). Politically of course this is near impossible.

To more sustainably drive behaviors, would suggest not only increasing the tax rate, but also add a trigger mechanism to increment the tax rate whenever prices fell below a certain level, effectively putting a soft floor on consumer-level prices. (e.g. if pre-tax prices fall from $3/gal to $2.50/gal, have excise tax rate increased by say $0.40/gal, only letting ~20% of price drop flow through to consumer).

I agree that taxing things that you don't want people to do makes more sense than subsidizing things you do want people to do. I think that the problem is that taxes are more visible to the average person. If gas prices go up a couple dollars people are going to notice, but if EVs get subsidized not everyone is going to pay much attention to it. Some people will, but many people won’t think about it much because it doesn't seem to directly affect them. People will of course notice if their taxes go up, but their anger at the increased taxes won’t necessarily be directed directly at the EV program. This is just my opinion about why subsidized seem to happen more often than taxes on undesired activities. I know that many people do pay attention to subsidizes and in the future as taxes rise (I'm guessing they are going to rise) I imagine even more people will pay attention.

Making the oil tax revenue neutral could help it gain acceptance. All of the money taken in could be distributed per capita. So the heaviest users of oil would pay more, but get the same back as the lightest users of oil. Also starting out with a modest tax, and gradually increasing it would help.


Jane fills her various oil burning machines with 3,000 gallons of oil over the year. $1500 of tax is collected.

David fills his various non-oil burning machines with 0 gallons of oil over the year. $0 of tax is collected.

If they were the only two people in the country, they would each receive a cheque for $750.

To help this work politically, it might be best to do things on a state by state basis, county by county, or even by zip code. That way people driving trucks out in rural areas wouldn't be paying for a bicycle rider in an urban area, and the money stays local. The investments that people make in using less oil help support the local economy. Once people start cashing their cheques, support for the tax would be reinforced.

This sort of tax would work best if rolled out nationally so as not to add to people shopping for gas across state lines, but could work on a state basis (especially Hawaii!).

In my view, conservation and efficiency programs are best when used to support price signals (e.g. taxes) rather than on their own.

That's a good idea. It would defiantly make the tax easier for people to swallow.

You didn't solve the regressive tax problem. The poor would receive back some of what they paid, but so would the rich. On the East Coast, you have the wealthy riding trains to the business district, while the poor ride their jalopies to their strip mall job. The poor would pay more for gas to cut a check to the rich train rider.

Where I live the poor use public transportation, or cheep old vehicles, while the better of drive SUVs and oversized pickup trucks. So it might work some places better than others.

"Where I live the poor use public transportation, or cheep old vehicles, while the better of drive SUVs and oversized pickup trucks. So it might work some places better than others."

Here the poor drive cheap old pickups and SUVs, even less fuel efficient than the new ones. I think it's called kicking them while they are down.

A sales tax is regressive because the money collected isn't distributed equally, unlike how this oil tax would be. If a sales tax's revenue was distributed per capita, the poor would greatly benefit. Even though their spending is a higher percent of their income than the rich, they would still come out way ahead.

But you're right, the crucial question is who uses more oil in absolute terms, not as a percent of their income. And although I'm sure many poor people spend more on oil as a percent of their income than the rich, I seriously doubt that in absolute terms (gallons per year) the average poor person uses more oil than the average wealthy person. The wealthy use so much oil that they never touch... the truck moving the landscaping crew, the pool cleaners, the almost weekly flights, not to mention the oil embedded in all the objects they buy. Maybe someone on here has some numbers to prove me right or wrong.

For this tax to cost you nothing, all you have to do is consume no more oil in gallons than the average in whatever area (country, state, county, zip code) the money is redistributed within.

"On the East Coast, you have the wealthy riding trains to the business district, while the poor ride their jalopies to their strip mall job."

Or the poor ride buses, which take all day to get anywhere. Either way, buses or jalopies, it's not limited to the East Coast. It's the sort of thing that feeds the endless war (Bus Riders' Union etc.) in Los Angeles over train vs. bus funding.

Gas Taxes.
Here in South California the roads are well maintained but driving north towards the Los Angeles/Riverside area
where there is heavy commercial truck traffic the roads are in terrible condition. There are many cracks, the slow lane is so bumpy, many uneven places between lanes and on/off ramps. Repairs are almost non-existent.
California gas tax: 35.3 cents. Diesel: 18. Other: 15.2 “Other Taxes” columns include a 2.25% state sales tax for gasoline and at least a 1.25% local sales tax for various counties in the state for diesel. The tax rate applied is a weighted average based upon county populations. A 2 cpg state UST fee is also included. So, 50 cents/Gl in tax on gasoline.
When I travel in rural areas the roads are being repaired in the summer months, stop for the flag man and wait 10 or 15 min. then go. Could never be done on the Interstate freeways. More lanes added at one million to twenty million dollars per mile.

Gas taxes by state


There are two big problems with taxes. The first is that a fuel tax alone tends to be regressive, that is, richer people use less fuel per dollar of income than do poorer people, since poorer people can not take advantage of newer, more efficient vehicles and richer folks spend less of their income on direct fuel purchases. The richer in society can use other modes of travel, such as air travel or taxis, where the indirect consumption of oil would be hidden in the total cost of the service.

The second is that a tax will appear as an expense to an industrial or commercial user, which will thus be passed on to the final consumer as a price increase. Since oil is such an important part of our economy, every sector which can pass on the tax will do so, which will lead to inflation. The resulting economic impact will be stagflation, that is to say, a combination of recession and inflation, for which there are no good policy cures. For example, present gas taxes have not kept pace with inflation, thus we find stories that states can not pay for road projects due to a lack of funds. As a result, the level of the oil tax would need to continually increase directly with inflation, which would be a positive feedback and would destabilize the economy. It's worth remembering the result of the big spike in oil prices after 1979 required very high interest rates, which pushed the US into a major recession, to choke off the inflation.

Of course, our political political rhetoric has branded any taxes as a non-starter, so there's almost no chance for any sort of tax increase, especially the addition of large taxes such as those presently seen in Europe. However, there's one possible approach, which might be the imposition of a "user fee" on oil and it's products to pay for a substantial portion of the defense spending, which is now funded from other taxes. The amount of the "user fee" would be offset by reducing those other taxes, such as the income tax, with the result being a net zero change in overall tax collection. If the conservatives in the US really want a massive military, let them pay for it as they drive their gas guzzlers...

E. Swanson

Very true. That is the catch 22 of the last 1/2 century. No conservation without higher prices. No higher prices without scarcity.

That is why I hope peak oil comes as soon as possible. It is the only hope for humans to ever live sustainably. Bring it on and so we can move on to a better world.

Since oil is such an important part of our economy, every sector which can pass on the tax will do so, which will lead to inflation. The resulting economic impact will be stagflation, that is to say, a combination of recession and inflation, for which there are no good policy cures.

If what you're saying was true, European taxes on petroleum products couldn't exist. They do exist, doesn't hurt much and they get desirable results.

As a result, the level of the oil tax would need to continually increase directly with inflation, which would be a positive feedback and would destabilize the economy.

This is also very incorrect. Sales taxes of all kinds are often a fixed percentage of the pre-tax price, and so follows inflation. This is no problem whatsoever, and there is no logical reason this would be a "positive feedback loop".

I appreciate that you come up with your own theories, but you really should test them by looking at what has been done in the world.

Europe is a rather poor example for comparison with the US. Europe is rather more compact and has not seen the development of massive urban sprawl, as found in the US since WW II. Also, Europe has maintained their passenger rail systems, which use much less energy per passenger mile. Europe is said to use about half the energy per capita as in the US, the result of decades of efforts to discourage energy imports.

As for taxing fuel on a percentage basis, I believe that the historical pattern has been taxing on a per unit basis, as in, $/gallon. Energy is delivered to the consumer in ways other than direct physical amounts and we know full well what increases in the price of energy do to the prices of every other item for sale. The cost of energy impinges directly in the energy intensive commodities, such as metals, glass and plastics. Look what happened in California after the Arab/OPEC embargo, when prices for many products, including real estate, soared. We aren't discussing a price increase in a single item within the market economy, but price increases for anything made from the higher priced fuel, which means everything. Besides, the monies collected from sales taxes remains within the economy, being spent for other purposes, as do the products, however, energy is different, since it can only be used once and can not be recycled in the same sense as other materials may be...

E. Swanson

Europe is a rather poor example for comparison with the US.

The differences are overblown. My own Sweden, for example, has low population density, long distances and high gas taxes. No problem. Rail is not such a big deal. The US would have no big problem with gas taxes either. Of course, you should not slam European taxes on overnight, but over a 10-year period. And you want to do something about the sprawl, right? This is it!

We aren't discussing a price increase in a single item within the market economy, but price increases for anything made from the higher priced fuel, which means everything.

No, we are discussing letting taxes follow inflation. That is neutral.

Besides, the monies collected from sales taxes remains within the economy, being spent for other purposes, as do the products, however, energy is different, since it can only be used once and can not be recycled in the same sense as other materials may be...

First you talked about recycling monies, then of recycling the physical goods. Seems confused. You recycle the money from gas taxes too. Actually, a gas tax would transfer money from Arab sheikh revenues into US tax coffers, due to demand elasticity.
(I.e. put forth a gas tax of $3/gallon. Then demand would fall and the underlying price would fall by perhaps $1 or so, and the net increase would only be $2. Then you can hand out the $3 again, and you'd have saved $1.)

Yes, and also one shouldn't forget that whatever the number of miles driven, a times two more efficient car is a times two more efficient car. And to me the prime objective of gas tax (or any fossile fuel tax) should be to push the product and infrastructure in general towards better efficiency (which then also becoes a relative advantage for the country by the way).
The fact that Americans drive more miles is really a "false excuse".
Not to forget that EV making sense should be much lighter less powerful than current cars also.
Really the "solution" is as much if not more in more efficient ICE cars and vehicles especially in the comings years.

How many people in Sweden commute more than 25 miles one way to work, 5 days a week (especially during Winter)? I did that on my first job after college and other people in the US drive even farther. What's the average yearly mileage for Swedish drivers or, asking another way, what's the average oil use per capita? In the US, we historically used about twice the amount as in Europe. Applying European rates of gasoline taxation would be very difficult, having ignored this option over the past 35, and I submit that we don't have the luxury of a slow ramp up over 10 (or more) years...

E. Swanson

How many people in Sweden commute more than 25 miles one way to work, 5 days a week

Quite many. I do 45 kilometers, for instance, one way.

What's the average yearly mileage for Swedish drivers

We have 4.9 million cars doing a total of 64 billion kilometers, for an average of 13000 kilometers per car. New cars average 6.2 litres/100 km or 38 MPG, while the fleet averages some 8.3 litres/100 km or 28 MPG.

In the US, we historically used about twice the amount as in Europe.

Since you have half the gasoline price.

Applying European rates of gasoline taxation would be very difficult, having ignored this option over the past 35, and I submit that we don't have the luxury of a slow ramp up over 10 (or more) years...

I can't see why not.

jeppen wrote:

I can't see why not.

I suggest that you don't understand US politics. Quite a few of us are still immersed in the mentality of the War Between the States (1860) and a large fraction don't understand that the Earth orbits around the Sun once a year. The last time there was an attempt to increase the Federal Gas Tax (in 1993), an increase of $0.043 per gallon was all that could pass and during the summer of 2008, some states considered reducing their fuel taxes. One of our Repub Presidential candidates promises that the price of gasoline drop to $2 a gallon...

E. Swanson

I thought your luxury comment was about collapse coming earlier than within ten years. I do know you have political problems.

I think your federal political system has you tied down somewhat, with the two-party system and politicians with a strong personal mandate. In my own Sweden, the votes can be said to go to parties rather than persons, and that makes party organizations quite powerful and it somewhat insulates politicians as you vote for/choose among packages of ideas that the respective politicians are quite tied to. This means the technocratic aspect of Swedish government is that much stronger. This is for good and for bad, certainly. We get efficient action, less pork barrel bills, more coherent frameworks and so on. On the other hand, when dominant Swedish parties are stupid or work for special-interests, they may have an easier time pushing those ideas through too.

But don't forget that cars do not need to be that big/powerfull !!!
And even in winter in the US.
Again, completely false excuse, and anyway in all cases what a volume based gas tax does is that it "simulates" the future/higher prices and therefore associated solutions/adaptations, while keeping the difference within the country in the meantime in terms of money.
And the vast majority of Americans do not even know the US went through their peak in 1970, believing drilling ANWR would be sufficient to go back to the haydays, a gas tax is also about the message it conveys...

The problem is that our politics is fought at a very low intellectual level. Gas tax, ugghhh, I don't want to pay it, it is taking money from me. "I can spend my money better than the government can". Discussions about using one tax to offset another, and price elasticity meaning that oil exporters would effectively subsidize a gas tax, are so far beyond the ordinary understanding to not even enter the discussion. Then when a cruch hits (i.e. an oil price spike causes an increase in fuel price), all the politicians fall over themselves pandering the public. "The problem is that I'm already paying too much, give me a gas tax holiday!". And then various myths abound, "It is a conspiracy by the oil companies to get to charge more..therefore I won't conserve, cause there is plenty--really". So we do nothing, or make moves in the wrong direction.

Herbert Cain would put a 9% sales tax on everything... which I guess includes gasoline. That would be a 50% (9cent) increase over present rates with gas at $3/gal. At $2.00/gal, it is about the same as today. (Fed gas tax is 18.4 Cents).

In any case, hardly enough. And, the biggest difficulty with the gas taxes is that they are dedicated to building and maintaining highways. That simply kicks the can down the road, and does nothing to address the problem. We have 'sunk costs' in an unsustainable infrastructure. The solution is a new paradigm for travel, or rather return to an old one... trains.

Oh, did I mention, creating that infrastructure would also entail a new power paradigm.

But, since just the RR part would cost $3 Trillion, we are told we cannot do it. Never mind that just the construction would put all of our unemployed back to work... the far right worship the Great God, Grover, and have made sacred pledges to Him that they would never do anything that could in any way be construed as raising taxes. Those who become Apostate, such as G.H.W. Bush, are branded Heretic, and cast out...

But that is another rant.

Actually, if we just wait, we will either see prices for gas raise astronomically or wages drop precipitously (and maybe both), so that driving an automobile becomes simply a sport for the wealthy. The hoi-polloi will be fortunate if they live close enough to a bus stop to be able to use mass transit. Oh, and you'ld better plan on getting screens on your windows since a/c will be prohibitively expensive. And, blankets... you need more blankets. For the cold weather.

Maybe on the way back from the bus stop, there will be a grocery store. Oh, wait. Groceries cost a lot more in this state of affairs, so you will need to grow most of your own, and maybe have a few rabbits for meat (much better source of protein that chicken, and less feed per pound meat by a bunch). I don't know how large your suburban lot is (my wife and I drove around a few developments nearby the other day, and remarked that even the huge 6,000+ sq.ft. homes had postage stamp lots)... mine is rather small, so I plan on farming in the park and the middle school nearby. There are some neighbors who agree, and we will be dividing it up fairly, and sharing in guard duty.

All of the above is assuming that abiotoil does to begin to well up out of the ground, conveniently refilling all those depleted fields. In which case, the environment is toast and we all die.

Who said I was a doomer? But at least I have a plan.

My answer to all of this is... well, I don't really have an answer now, do I? I am just guessing, and I submit that is about all anyone can do. I just hope things fall apart slowly, giving most folks a chance to muddle through. I certainly am not cheering on passing of peak oil. Nor am I a fan of AGW. Realist is how I view myself. And, having abandoned the party of the Far Right, I do not fantisize that I can alter reality or create my own.

Hope y'all are good at muddling. Enjoy.


Best thing for fossile fuel taxes is for them to be based on volumes, not on price at all.

Clear, and the US are way passed the time for increasing their gas tax, but never too late, and even Europe should still increase the volume based tax.

let the market work its magic

i cringe when ever i hear someone say that or type that.. it's simply a code word for 'let them die'

a better idea would be a vehicle efficiency tax imho. set a baseline say 30mpg and tax the car on a monthly basis on a scale of how far or close it is to that mark. no incentives if you have a car over that other then not paying the tax and the baseline rises 1 or 2 mpg every other year. this way your targeting the actual vehicle instead of the use. with just putting the tax on the gasoline your not going to encourage people to use less or get something better or find alternatives better suited to them. your going to get what happened last time gas went up to $4+. thousands of people going out to their cars finding hole's drilled in their tanks by people un-willing to pay for the high gas prices. more gas and dash etc. that is unless, that's your idea of 'the market working it's magic'

Fuel-efficient cars cost money. In theory we would all start buying cheap simple small vehicles but in practice it won't happen. Not in the USA. People don't give up their luxuries on vehicles, especially not the wealthier first owners who originally buy them. The buyers just spend more money to get a more complex and over-engineered car.

If we keep trying to get our oil savings with higher MPG then we will end up buying $50,000 cars to keep gas at $3/gallon. That situation does not do much good for the working poor. Those expensive over-engineered cars cost several thousand dollars every time it goes to the shop for any reason, repair or maintenance or collision. Not to mention the insurance rates of dealing with such a vehicle.

I think it would be better to give the working poor a chance to buy reasonably priced vehicles (too late) and pay more per gallon. At least they can have some control over the situation and have a car when it's needed. When the car prices go up, it just becomes another cost-of-living increase. Just like the terrible situations the working poor already struggle with for health insurance and low-income housing.

The fairest and most practical way to higher MPG cars really is to "let the market work" I'm afraid. We need to start raising the price of gasoline. Get it a little closer to reflecting its true cost to society.

If the USA moved towards European models of 20 years ago there would be a vast saving of motor fuels.


I was interested in your thoughtful comments and worked the Google for some relevant information.


The average purchase prices of new cars has risen from $28,160 in 2009 to $29,217 in 2010, an increase of about 3.75%.

...generally, only the most qualified buyers are buying cars right now, as they are the most economically stable.

...sales volume is down, automakers have to concentrate on selling better-equipped models to make up the difference

...the profit margin on a base model family sedan can be under $2,500, the profit margin on an option package including a moonroof, upgraded stereo and GPS navigation for about $3,000 adds another $1,500 or so to the bottom line.

The ~ price of a 2011 Toyota Prius (51 City / 48 Hwy)

Starting MSRP

Dealer Price
$22,120 - $28,790

According to this source, the top ten best-selling vehicles in the U.S,


10. Ram pickup
MSRP $29,645 - $43,125
14/19 MPG

9. Chevrolet Cruze
MSRP $16,720 - $23,110
25/36 MPG

8. Toyota Corolla
MSRP $15,900 - $18,600
28/35 MPG

7. Honda Accord
MSRP $21,380 - $31,830
23/34 MPG

6. Ford Fusion
MSRP $19,850 - $29,000
22/32 MPG

5. Ford Escape
MSRP $21,240 - $34,830
23/28 MPG

4. Nissan Altima
MSRP $20,410 - $25,430
23/32 MPG

3. Toyota Camry
MSRP $20,195 - $29,845
22/32 MPG

2. Chevrolet Silverado pickup
MSRP $42,415 - $49,195
20/23 MPG

1. Ford F-150 pickup
MSRP $22,790 - $27,555
17/23 MPG

The seasonally adjusted sales rate for October 2011 was 13.3 million vehicles.

Top ten list of most fuel-efficient cars sold in the U.S. in 2011:


Want a less expensive vehicle that is also thrifty on fuel?

Each of these vehicles cost a lot less than the average selling price of ~ $29,000 USD, and get significantly better mileage than the average of the top-ten selling U.S> models in 2011:

Smart for Two: 33 City/41 Hwy (36 Combined), Base Price: $10,990. (Cabriolet convertible $17690)

Toyota Yaris: 29 City/35 Hwy, Base Price: $11,350.

Ford Focus: 24 City/35 Hwy, Base Price: $14,395

Ford Fiesta SFE: 29 City/40 Hwy (33 Combined), Base Price:$14,420.

Hyundai Elantra: 29 City/40 Hwy (33 Combined), Base Price: $14,830.

Honda Civic: 26 City/34 Hwy, Base Price: $15,010

Toyota Corolla: 28 City/37 Hwy, Base Price: $15,250.

Now, for the top ten least expensive (purchase price) cars sold in the U.S. in 2011:


1. Hyundai Accent GL, $10,705
27/33 MPG

2. Nissan Versa 1.6, $10,740
24/31 MPG automatic, 27/34 manual

Average fuel economy of vehicles sold in U.S. as of Sep 2011: 22.1 MPG


Why does nudging up that 22.0 or 22.1 mpg number matter? Well, TrueCar estimates that an increase of a mere one mpg on the estimated annual U.S. sales of approximately 13 million vehicles would reduce our fuel consumption by 416 million gallons. So, even 0.1 mpg is significant.

OK, so first of all, I caveat that the MSRP/selling prices vary somewhat website to website, and YMMV, no quibbling on that please.

My point is...even without me putting all this into a spreadsheet and running some numbers, it is obvious to me that those 13.3 million vehicle buyers in the U.S. in 2011 could darn well afford to spend considerably less per car and get cars with considerably higher MPG...and we are not talking about a .1-1 MPG bump up, ...much larger than that.

I imagine that if one ran some hypothetical cases that we would arrive at some dramatic oil use reductions if people en masse decided to buy less expensive purchase price and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Let me pinch off the standard 'but what about Jevons...?" rejoinder: Poppycock to that...folks are so busy working their rears off, and last time I checked there were still only 24 hrs ion a day, so the elasticity of VMT is more limited than some Jevons worriers think...besides, if China and India will just suck up the freed-up oil as many surmise, and if oil supplies decrease in the future as many surmise, I think oil/gas prices will go up anyway...and if they don't increased gas taxes would put paid to Jevons.

The bottom line as I see it: There is nothing stopping folks from choosing less expensive purchase price, higher-mileage vehicles in the U.S. right now except our own preferences for bigger, faster, option-loaded ornaments...testaments to our vanities and ignorance and lack of planning or caring for the future.

Smaller/lighter vehicles also are less expensive to maintain if driven conservatively...lower mass should mean less wear on brakes (All Things Being Equal), smaller tires are cheaper to replace, etc.

The choices are there on sale...no need to wait for warp drive or unobtainium...I don't buy the premise that 'more fuel efficient is too expensive'...the numbers above indicate otherwise, if one bothers to shop for a car that is both inexpensive AND fuel-efficient...numerous choices exist to fit that bill.

Edit: For the 'smaller cars are less safe' crowd:

Not necessarily so...besides, how about we raise the gas taxes and fund some more police to actually police speeders/reckless drivers etc (including morons who talk and text on the cell phone while driving?

I can't imagine paying $30,000 for a car. Just seems like a ton of money to me for something that loses so much value, so fast. I remember back in the day going and picking up a relatives Suburban (loaded/$40K) and years later I remember another relative (that had bought it) trading it in and getting $1500. Not a bad investment...not!

I paid $10K for my car and it will run until there is no gasoline at the station. I'll duct tape the doors shut if it should come to that. I'll replace the glass with cardboard.

I never bought a car that I didn't keep at least 10 years, with over 100K mileage.

I bought my last new vehicle years ago...everything from then on is Used.

I tell this to co-workers and friends who make considerably less than I do and they look at /me/ like I dropped in from Mars...they can't imagine not buying nice new cars and selling them when the paint get dull and the body gets dings, etc.

And some folks wonder why many Americans have debt problems!

Tip of the hat to you, daddyLL...leading by example of frugality!

Oh yeah, there are lots of fuel efficient car options today. But who is buying them? Most of the cars/trucks on the road are big luxurious vehicles with tons of money added to the consumer's total cost in order to meet the existing govt mileage regulations.

As long as the majority of vehicles being made are oversize, then the majority of people on the road will be driving oversize vehicles. There is no way to have the wealthy first-owners all purchase oversize luxury models while still keeping the second-owner neighborhoods stocked up with cheap practical econoboxes.

We have already experienced higher prices of gas at the pump during the gas crisis days of the 1970s and early-80s. The result was the whole public buying smaller stripped-down practical cars. Then from the late 1980s to the 2000s, we went back to cheaper gasoline and just had govt-mandated mileage standards on vehicles to control gas consumption. The results of the latter policy are on the road today, a whole fleet of complex over-engineered vehicles that cost too much to buy & operate. And a public that continues to do nothing to curb fuel usage in their individual daily habits or living arrangements at all.

I think the situation is clear - we need higher pump prices to cause any change in behavior other than ever-growing vehicle costs.

I think we are in agreement...clearly, there are numerous low-purchase-price cars on sale in the U.S. right this very moment...and many of these choices also get significantly higher-MPG than the mean fleet MPG average, both for all cars, and for all new cars sold this year in the U.S.

So...the issue is NOT that people have to spend $50,000 or some other large purchase price to buy a car which is significantly more fuel efficient than the average car purchased today...clearly, a basic Prius is available on sale today for less than the mean new vehicle purchase price...and clearly, there are numerous cars models which are available for $15K USD or less in the U.S., most of which get significantly higher MPG than the average new car purchased this year...

The problem is not availability of cars with higher MPG at affordable price points, the problem is that most car buyers do not see the need for themselves or society/humanity as a whole to buy less expensive, higher-MPG cars.

You correctly point out that gasoline prices in the U.S. are too low to cause people to purchase these types of vehicles...one course of action to modify people's car purchase choices would be to raise the taxes on gasoline, but this doesn't seem to likely in the U.S. anytime soon.

This discussion has occurred numerous times on TOD and elsewhere), and will continue to occur, and I am afraid that these conversations amongst small tribes in obscure coroners of the Internet (and society) will matter not....the 'Mainstream Media' and Wall Street and Madison Avenue will continue to set the tone and drive the conversations...

Thanks for asking Alan.

My personal crusade at work is to allow telecommuting and/or changing to a 4 day work week.

There are huge numbers of people who drive many miles each day to go sit in a cubicle and do essentially the same tasks they could be doing in a home office.

Combine allowing a day or two of telecommuting with work week reduction from 5 to 4 days (if that's too radical maybe just do it every other week / alternate within the workforce) and I think you would have significant reductions in oil consumption. A side benefit might be that a measure of sanity could be restored in some people's lives since less time is eaten up by commuting / occupying an office space for 5 of every 7 days in a week.

I am all for telecommuting. It makes so much sense I can't believe it is not done more. I am also for reducing plastic packaging, winterizing, growing gardens, etc. etc. etc., but I agree with stclair above the most. Just raise taxes on oil. That seems like the easiest and most straight forward solution to me.

The US has completely subsidized oil/gasoline consumption for the past 60+ years and it is time to stop. Why is this hard for people to understand? We have been building more and bigger highways since before I was born and our taxes on gas are some of the lowest in the world.

Why is it surprising that our culture has turned into suburbia, big SUV's, and disposable everything packaged in plastic? Of course it has. If you want to move the pendulum back the other way make it economically painful to keep up the lifestyle. Increase taxes on oil consumption and lower other taxes if needed. People will figure it out. That seems a lot easier than trying to over-regulate peoples lives with minute details. People don't want to be told what type of car they have to buy. Just tell them that gas prices are going to go up and stay up and let them make their own decision based on real information.

1. Growing any kind of food garden. Even small pots and containers for apartment and condo buildings. Make sure policy allows for people to convert lawns to edible landscapes.

2. Stop the spraying of pesticides in public spaces - convert the lawns to clover. Saves mowing and chemicals. Cheaper, too, on strained city budgets. Incentives for planting of native plants on parkways.

3. Encourage tree planting - shade in summer on houses requires less cooling.

4. Winter weatherization of homes requires less heating. Suggest reducing heating in public buildings. Also, reduce cooling in summer. "Green" roofs help too.

5. Discourage use of plastic bags and plastic water bottles. As mentioned above, reduce plastic packaging in general.

6. Introduce more "shop local" programs, like "Small Business Saturday" - but locally produced items, not just cheap imports sold at small stores.

A number of good ideas - but a couple do not tie to less oil use.

Less pesticides > less petrochemicals > less oil

Local food (even a few %) > less transportation > less oil use

Less heating in oil heated homes, VERY good for less oil. Other heat sources, not so much for less oil.

The concentration is not on less FF, a better ecology and environment, but less oil use.

Best Hopes,


In my experience, working in neighborhoods, one has to have a holistic policy. For example, it's no good rationing gasoline if people have no local place to shop, or can't catch a train to work.

One has to start educating people to use less resources overall - it's pointless, IMHO, to say "Ok, let's cut heating oil, let's switch everyone to natural gas" without people understanding they need to turn down the thermostat, since natural gas is also a finite resource.

Recycling, as another example, relies on frequent pickup by truck, fueled by oil. No oil, no recycling. Unless one wants to switch the pickup vehicles to electric (coal, a finite resource) or natural gas (a finite resource). One has to get people to produce less waste. It's a system, which is all connected.

Ok, I know, no easy answers. Oil is really everywhere, now.

Haul as much as possible by rail. Get these 18 wheelers off the road, except for shorter runs. They could even send a lot of produce by rail. A run from California to Chicago by rail can't be much different then by semi?

More airline taxes, more fees, more everything. Travel by air is still cheap enough for even a modest income individual. Need to get more of those planes on the ground. Back when I was a youngster, nobody I knew traveled to Mexico or even Florida (by air).

Speaking of tourism, my city thinks they are going to get rich by attracting tourists. I guess if they come by Amtrak, it might work in the long run (we are about 5 hrs by car from Chicago).

National recycling law, modeled after one of the state programs. Here's what we have.


Legalize marijuana and encourasge outdoor growing. (Legalize hemp, too, but that's a different story). There is no reason why a weed which grows from Alaska to the equator should be grown indoors using energy, but that's what is being done. Back about '05 or '06, Mendocino Co. studied energy use. The second leading consumer of diesel, after the county itself, was the grow industry, running all the generators for growing indoors. (Lots of environmental damage from spills, too). I'm pretty sure growing moved into first within a few years of the study, both because of more growers and county budget cutbacks. There are lots of urban indoor growers, but they probably use grid electricity, so moving outdoors won't save much in the way of FF.
I've heard that a lot of the indoors have moved outside because it's now impossible to get a conviction in this county. However, Obama said that the dispensaries were gonna be closed down by the feds (any day now), which will move everything back inside.

We are still fighting the War on Drugs... probably the most expensive war in world history. In the process we have turned young people into criminals, the police into a military force, and our backs on sanity. Imagine how much money we pour into the drug wars, and use that to implement all of the programs we need to create a sustainable society. How many prisoners are we holding (at about $50 per day or more in direct costs) whose crimes was wanting to feel good? How many more people would feel good if that money was directed into education, into creation of a sustainable grid and transportation system, or just into our own pockets. If the Far Right wants to lower taxes, there would be a good target!

The cost of remediation and thearpy would be far lower, and have a wonderful consequence. And, you could tax the recreational drugs to pay for any such programs. More of the money spent would go to the farmers and growers - money that today goes to the true criminals.

But of course, the wood paper pulp growers would object since hemp makes better paper, is cheaper, grows faster, and, well... you get the picture.

So... since Drugs won't surrender, maybe we should revisit the problem. We couldn't do much worse than we are today.


Eliminate parking subsidies and minimum parking requirements.

Damn near every city in America subsidizes parking, especially in downtown areas, by offering parking in lots and garages at below-market rates, as well as by setting a fixed-price below market rate for street parking. It is essentially a Soviet-style rationing approach to parking. The net effect is to subsidize drivers and discourage carpooling and mass transit use at taxpayer expense.

Minimum parking requirements, meanwhile, not only encourage driving, they directly increase sprawl by increasing the land footprint of any business. Let businesses decide how much parking they want to provide.

Simply by allowing the market to allocate parking, we would take a significant step toward auto-independence. And in principle, it could be supported by both lefty environmentalists and righty libertarians*.

(*if libertarianism hasn't in practice simply devolved into a sort of cultural nativism that would go to the mat to defend the privileges of the suburban lifestyle.)

All good ideas..

Basically, what I think....

Drastically reduce energy/resource consumption of all kinds. Buy significantly less stuff. (not sure that would be a popular policy suggestion, however.)

The fastest method to reduce oil use would be to impose a direct rationing system for all oil products with a white market for trading allocations. The allocations would be given to each individual with a staggered weekly allocation and the allocations would expire after a time with the unused allocations being returned to the market. The white market would be "primed" with a fraction of the total allocations and trading in the white market would set a premium for consumption beyond each individual's allocation. Allocations would be "spent" whenever an oil product is purchased, using an electronic card similar to a "debt" card. Any purchase beyond the periodic allocation would be cleared thru the white market at the current price in that market. Any unused allocations would be converted to cash and credited to the user's bank account before the next allocation was added.

Business and industrial users would be required to purchase their needs from the white market, which would guarantee a large turnover in the market, resulting in a highly liquid market and a relatively stable price for purchases (and sales) of allocations. There would be no "futures" purchases allowed, since the allocations would expire in a relatively short time, thus minimizing hoarding and other gaming of the system.

A system structured this way could be expected to result in a progressive price of fuel for the average user, that is, the more one consumes, the greater the cost per unit consumed. The incentive to reduce consumption would be obvious to all consumers, not just to those educated and experienced in energy policy. This system would not function like the proposed cap-and-trade scheme, which would appear to the average consumer as just another tax and which would provide another profit center for the banking and investing sector. Such a system could allow for some reduction of present support programs for the poor, as many low income people could benefit from selling their unused allocations at the premium price in the white market.

There you have a short sketch of the idea, which is probably not worth the watts required to type it on my computer, given our present political climate...

E. Swanson

Two thumbs up on this method of rationing. Everyone gets a basic share and if you want/need more you buy it at market prices. For individuals I would add a "savings account" feature which would allow one to save their ration up to some maximum amount for something like a vacation by using alternate transportation for commuting or trips close to home.

I'm sure that most people would like to "save" some of their fuel allocation for later use, but, oil supply is a flow problem, not a storage problem and attempting to "bank" some of that flow by holding some or their allocations would throw the system a curve ball. That's why I think the unused allocations should expire. One could surely accomplish the same by saving the dollar amount equivalent to their unused allocation in a cash account for later use. There would likely be a seasonal cycle in the white market to contend with, but that already exists today in the market price for gasoline, as an example. Or, if one were able to acquire a large tank, one could "save" some of their allocation for later, such as for winter heating. Besides, most(?) people live in families, where there would be 2 (or more) adults with allocations sharing responsibility. That might be an added incentive for family living, which the conservatives apparently think desirable...

E. Swanson

Saving up some coupons for episodic use shouldn't be a major problem for the system. As long as people don't take vacation all at the same time (like the Chinese all heading home for newyear), the system should be able to handle individual variations (i.e. they should nearly average out). Also you could have saved coupons deflate, at the end of the month, your unused coupons are good for say 90% of the nominal amount. So saving up large amounts isn't going to pan out....

The method is inefficient and beaurocratic. Also, it creates a massive transfer to poor people for no good reason. If you want to such transfers, you should keep them simple and separate from carbon/oil taxes. Mixing welfare and climate mitigation together like that may be Naomi Klein's and other socialists' wet dream, but it is quite evil. Mixing makes it harder to understand, and harder to understand means less democratic.

We all use energy, it's part of being alive. Maybe "poor people" would use less than the average, but maybe not, as they might end up driving old gas guzzlers as the least cost option. As I noted, the poor who are receiving some form of welfare would see that transfer payment reduced as part of the plan, with the result being that they would be receiving the same benefit from the energy allocation. Remember, they would still need to pay the market price for the fuel which they consume, which we can expect to remain high and climb higher as the global shortage from Peak Oil becomes evident. The twin problems of Peak Oil and of Greenhouse Gas emissions both require rather major changes away from BAU. Providing jobs, even bureaucratic ones, may become a priority as well. Don't forget that energy efficiency has a different meaning from economic efficiency...

E. Swanson

All good points.

APPGOPO came out with a good analysis of Tradable Energy Quotas ten months ago.
This Wiki gives some background/context for the TEQ model, which sure deserves more attention than it has received:

Good Morning Alan,

I sure would be glad to see you posting more often-and I'm sure the rest of us feel the same way.

In my opinion, one of the best things and most effective things that could be done to help cut oil consumption would be to overhaul the regulations that determine the patterns of ownership and use of personal and business vehicles.

It should be possible to do this in such a way that it does not arouse too much ire on the part of the public which insists on its right to go its own merry way to work in hot rod cars and to the convenience store in oversize trucks to fetch a sixpack.

Let me set the stage first by pointing out a few personal realities.

I am the only driver remaining at our house, as my Dad has had to give up driving in the last month due to his health.We keep three vehicles liscenced and insured nevertheless-a full size legacy 97 Buick, which gets fair mileage at around twenty mpg overall which is used occasionally for family outings, funerals, and trips to the doctor, etc;a two wheel drive Ranger pickup, which I use for just about all our day to day business and errands, which does as well as the Buick;and a 4x4 Chevy truck, which is a real gas hog, which is for use off the road on the farm and times when we must go even if the local mountian roads are covered with snow and ice, and for hauling the occasional load too big for the smaller Ranger.

I parked my Escort, even though it gets 50 % better overall mileage than the Buick, because I couldn't drive it enough to save enough to cover the registration and insurance premiums; and I sold my old Toyota pickup for the same reason, keeping the Ranger because although it does use more gas, it is newer and in far better condition.

It is virtually impossible to get an insurance company in Virginia to give a discount on the policy of a vehicle that is commensurate with very low use;the insurance has cost more than gasoline for the Chevy, even though it is the third vehicle in a low milegae family to begin.

Now if the regulations were to be changed such that premiums are based on the number of drivers, rather than vehicles owned, things could be different-and not even Houdini could have driven two at once.

If I could buy a two seater short range low speed electric capable of a thirty to forty mile trip, it would meet nearly all our day to day needs,and we would most likely buy such a car.

But the taxes and insurance and registration would out wiegh any money saved on fuel in our case.

If such vehicles were to get favorable tax treatment in terms that mattered to the people who would actually drive them, they would become very popular very quickly indeed.

The current tax subsidies allowed for vehicles such as the Volt or Leaf probably are helping as intended get the ev vehicle industry off the ground, but the folks who can afford them are simply too prosperous to bother with the limitations of an electric.

On the other hand, a retail worker or mill hand just getting by from week to week who MUST commute would quite willingly put up with a car that is adequate, with some planning, to meet her daily needs-especially if such a car promised to be a very low maintainence cost vehicle, which should be one of the strongest points of an ev.

And quite a lot of people in my situation would by an electric if we could actually save a few bucks over the long term by doing so.

Most of us , however, are not able or willing to give up our current car or truck and get by exclusively with an electric , given current day ev driving ranges and prices.

Of course overcoming the entrenched forces of the lawyers and insurance industry will be a very tough job.

They know that our house for instance that their income has fallen of by a third but their risk exposure has fallen off probably by two thirds, since we drive so little these days, putting them in the tall cotton on the bottom line.

OFM, I agree that the insurance situation prevents many people buying additional, moire efficient vehicles. If you are going to have just one, then you end up with the one that can handle your biggest needs - usually a large PU or SUV.

There are two possible ways to go here;

One solution is to separate the liability insurance from the car (property) insurance. The driver has to buy third party personal liability insurance, and can optionally buy third party property insurance, each year, as a renewal of their driver's licence. The driver is then insured to drive any (registered) vehicle, even if they don;t own it.
You can also buy insurance on your vehicle(s) themselves, against theft, fire, crash damage etc, but that is entirely optional.
There is still the annual cost of registering each vehicle, which, sans insurance, should be relatively small.

The only problem with this system is that it penalises people who don;t drive much, but still want to have a driver's licence for occasional use.

The fairest, but most complex system to implement, would be one where the insurance (for both driver and vehicle) is charged on a per mile basis. This would require a hack-proof system of measuring both vehicle miles and driver miles, but it could be done, just like we have measurements of cellphone minutes.

As is iften the case, the "fairest" systems can become very complex to implement - the current one is much simpler, but very inequitable

You have come up with some good additional points for sure.

As I see it, the single thorniest part of the problem is coming up with solutions that are acceptable to the public.I don't see the public buying into lower speed limits, or greatly increased fuel taxes, although these and many other ideas suggested would be great ideas if they could actually be implemented and enforced.

The working poor-who constite a very large part of the population -and the next segment just above them who make a little more, are going to be willing to drive less and to drive limited range vehicles as soon as they become available at affordable prices.

I lived most of my life without an air conditioned vehicle-but the local Chevy dealer does not have a single new vehicle on his lot that does not have air, power steering, power brakes, etc, and very few without electric windows and locks, etc.

People with just enough money to get by will drive a basic plain jane used car if they can find one for sale-maybe there should be a tax credit for plain cars balanced off by a tax on loaded models.But that wouldn't fly with the public either.

But one thing is for sure- the working class people are not going to just all move closer to work as a group-there is no housing available for them to move to-and if something is not done to enable them to continue to get to work, a crash is foregone conclusion.

My personal opinion is that an overghaul of automotive regulations along the lines we are talking about is the best hope-a car or van full of people who are not worried about the consequences of a riding together in the eventy of an accident is apt to be far more efficient than a bus or train system in most places, although I am in favor of both in cities with sufficiently dense populations for them to work.

Buses and trains are simply never going to be able to go where the people ARE - they are spread out all over the place.They may work where there is a lot of cheap legacy urban housing (can we all say slum together children?) and they sometimes work where there are lots of fairly prosperous folks with office jobs who would like to read the paper on the way, but the working classes generally can't afford housing near the lines, or else don't have jobs in the areas the buses run to.

I am staying at 25xx Benning Road, Washington DC.

Streetcar tracks are in the road, but the line is not yet complete. Buses are quite long articulated buses and packed during rush hours.

Definitely "the hood". But gentrifying fast.

7-11 opened two weeks ago on the block and a kabob place less than a block away opened a little over a month ago. A new Safeway a half dozen blocks away.

PhD bought house and is renovating it now (including MUCH better energy efficiency).

My guess is lower income will pull back two or three blocks from Benning (happened in 12th to 18th blocks), but still within walking distance.

The best solution is to saturate the market with Urban Rail - enough to reduce the premium for housing near it. Perhaps Section 8 may not be within 3 blocks, but working class can be.

Best Hopes,



You have what is clearly the best answer to mid to long term change. At one time, every US city had street cars; in the '30s, GM came in and lobbied all the towns into shutting down street rail in favor of diesel buses. Bad move (good for GM at the time, though, eh?).

Now, we would need either to redo the rail (has proven a very expensive thing, and ULR are somewhat different that street cars), or put up dual power lines and do electric buses, ala San Francisco. I suppose that overall, the latter is less expesnive and quicker. Do you have any figures on those two alternatives that make sense?

My experience with San Francisco (ULR - BART; Street Cars, Electric Buses, and Diesel Buses) tells me that a gradual switch to all electric would be best, with Street Car/ULR mix being the long range best response.

I'd be interested in your take on electrifying the buses, though.

Best hopes for electric transit.


Include minimum liability insurance in the price of motor fuel. Comp and collision could be purchased optionally, or as required by the note holder. Additional liability coverage and underinsured coverage could be purchased optionally(uninsured wouldn't be needed). Folks with points on their licenses would have to purchase a supplemental liability policy.

Mitsubishi will soon be offering their low-end Mitsubishi-i to the public. It is a relatively simple and very limited EV but it is priced low enough for most people to afford. It is around $29K but it comes to $21,625 when the tax credit is taken into account.

But I stress, it is a low-end vehicle. It is not very big, not super-high-quality, and has a pretty small 16KWH battery . . . that is the same size that the GM Volt uses. It is EPA rated for a range of 68 miles.

Most people will dismiss it as being too limited . . . it is very limited. However, if gas spikes up in price, I think it may end up being relatively popular.

Many families have two cars. For many, this car would work well as one of them, for short intercity trips. However, it may be too expensive for now.

That is hardly a low end price.

You can buy small cars like a Kia Rio for about $12k - they do not look like a an ugly bug, go further, faster etc, and the price difference buys a lot of fuel.

if your daily drive is long, the Miev is not a solution
if you can;t afford the gasoline prices at $4/gal, you probably can;t afford $22k on anew car either.
They are better off buying used Civic, Corolla, Rio etc and leave it at that.

Or stop driving all together...

Gas prices in Europe and Japan is twice that, so the US market will likely lag a decade or two in EV mass-market penetration.

That is hardly a low end price.

Yes, but the target market -- in my mind at least -- is not the poor. The target market is the inner-ring suburban population that sees these vehicles as a capital investment necessary to preserve the value of their real estate. When the choice is a $20K electric car with sufficient range to deal with the commute and/or errands on 90% of the days, or lose $100K in the process of moving, the car looks like a reasonable choice.

I know it's a minority opinion, but I expect to live to see the US implement fuel rationing again. Rationing by price will be deemed to have to many bad effects, among them the bankrupting of the ag system. When your ration is 2 gal/week, a car that runs on anything other than gas looks awfully good.

I am of the same opinion- gas rationing in some form is likely to be a fact of life in the future.

What we really need are some electric cars that work and sell for less than fifteen grand, so they would be bought in large numbers in order to stretch the gasoline ration-and available in the not too far distant future for half that used.

But I am afraid what might happen is that gas prices will spike for a good while, with periodic shortages at any price, before rationing is implemented, and any second hand electric will suddenly be worth twice the original purchase price when all the yuppies figure out rationing is in the cards.

$15K is far lower than the average new ICE car sold these days. You are asking for too much. A $15K EV could literally pay for itself purely in gasoline savings if you drove it long enough. That would practically be a free car.

Fifteen grand is still more than a lot of people can afford-and I really don't see any reason a basic stripped down low speed short range commuter needs to cost anymore that that-the battery is the only part of an ev that is outrageously expensive-and a smaller ev with a smaller battrery should be available at that price, inflation adjusted, pretty soon-if somebody will market it.

My folks considdered themselves fortunate fortunate to be able to afford a stripped down pickup truck-no air, no power steering, no power brakes, no electric windows, no fancy upholstery, no carpet, no clearcoat two tone paint, just rubber floor mats, stick shift, no automatic, no radio even, until they were middle aged and we kids were grown up.

It got pretty crowded in the cab, I'm telling ya true!As times get tougher, we will find we can get by just fine with less fancy addon features on our vehicles-what we can't afford is to abandon our existing housing stock, we are simply going to have to live in pretty much the places we already live, and work in the places we already work, for quite some time.

You can't even buy a new basic car anymore-there aren't any on the dealers lots.

It would be very helpful, and produce a huge bang for the buck if we could convince the doofus people -the majority of us, that is- who determine zoning regs to wake up and notice that the most expensive and desirable nieghborhoods are often older down town urban areas that have gentrified and are thus dense enough to support a walking based life style.

It may be that somewhere there is a NEW development similar to the Fan District in Richmond, Va, where I lived for a time, but if so, I have never heard of it.

The Fan is a dynamite place to live if you are into the urban lifestyle and can afford the rents and real estate prices.Not many working class folks live there anymore.I couldn't afford to live there now myself.

I would also be in favor of building urban light rail into any areas where the housing density id high enough to ensure a satisfactory level of ridership, as Alan mentions somewhere up thread.

yep, it is time for a new "people's car"

if you look at the best selling cars in history - Ford Model T, VW Beetle, Citroen 2CV, the Mini, Fiat 500, Corolla, Civic - they all started out as small, no frills vehicles, and sold millions.

They were pretty fuel efficient too, and a 2CV even passes todays emissions standards.

I am sure it is within the ability of the current crop of auto engineers to come up with a 21st century version of such - the problem is that no carmaker wants to be associated with an econobox anymore - they are all moving "upmarket"

This, of course, creates an opening at the bottom of the market for someone new, but when was the last time a "new" carmaker amounted to anything more than a specialty niche player - like Tesla?

Isn't there already gas rationing? If you cannot afford $3.50/gallon, you don't buy gas. Or, to the point, you drive less, using less gas and filling up less often. So... both gas and automobile use is rationed already. Also, health care is rationed the same way, and prime beef, lobster, and milk for that matter.

You know as well as I do that when gas stamps appear, ala WW-II, the po' folks will have to sell them to the rich. With the exact same result as paragraph one. Though I have no personal experience with this, I have heard that some poor Americans sell food stamps {not as easy now, but still do-able... it is more like rent them out}. There is always a way to game the system.

I just hope we have the good sense to deploy a transit system sufficient to move folks where they need to go on a daily basis. You can probably remember (I know I can) when going on vacation usually meant taking a train. I even remember fondly, if naively, the sulferous smell of the coal engines. The thrill of riding a long distance, comfortably cocooned in our car, watching the scenery - I lived in a Burlington town - the Burlington town, in fact, and the San Francisco and Denver trains ran regularly... feeding my youthful wanderlust.

Alan will appreciate this tid-bit:

Perhaps the Burlington's best known achievement took place in 1934 with the introduction of the Pioneer Zephyr - America's first diesel-powered streamlined passenger train. Its high-speed diesel-electric propulsion system was the forerunner of thousands of diesels that replaced steam locomotives on virtually every railroad a few short years after WWII. On May 26, 1934, the Burlington staged one of the greatest transportation events of the Thirties - a 1,000-mile record breaking, non-stop run from Denver Colorado to the World's Fair on Chicago's lake front, where the Pioneer Zephyr climaxed the "Wings of a Century" transportation pageant. News bulletins had been broadcast throughout the day as the train streaked through villages and cities, including Murray. The highest speed attained was 112.5 miles per hour and the total fuel cost for the trip was $14.64!


Imagine: Denver to Chicago, average speed 77 mph, fuel cost $14.64!!! It costs about that to drive a car from Evanston to Chicago and back today. Soon to be higher, I expect. When gas is available. Otherwise we'll stay home.

Best hopes for good family times, staying home.


Imagine: Denver to Chicago, average speed 77 mph, fuel cost $14.64!!! It costs about that to drive a car from Evanston to Chicago and back today.

It would be interesting to know the fuel bill for the return trip, when they had to regain the 4,500-foot elevation drop they benefited from on the trip east.

In 1934, crude was about $1/bbl, so call it 15 bbl of fuel. Also in 1934, average household income was about $1500/yr, so this fuel cost was about 1% of the avg household income. Today average household income is about $55,000, 1% is $550, which buys about 5.5 bbl of fuel (at WTI prices). Of course, as recently as the mid-1990s, 1% of avg household income would have purchased more than 15 bbl. When supply constraints begin to bite, things go to hell in a hurry.

I don't believe we will ever see rationing again unless there is a big war. Rationing would be decried as 'socialist' in today's environment. Instead we will 'ration by price' such that the price of gas could go up sharply. And if you are paying $7 or $10 per gallon, that higher up-front costing EV will start to look pretty attractive.

I agree with you about the demographic. These things are still in the early early-adoptor phase. I think for this class of Ev to make sense, it needs to be cheap. Cheap means not very much batery capacity. So your EV transportaion augment vehicle, must have either low range, or low weight&volume -or some combination of those. Thats where I think things like the Nissan Leaf are going wrong -they are trying to be a car, but because of the range issues, must be relegated to the short trip economy-augment issue. The natural way to do that is to make it tiny, so that a few KWhours of battery capacity is sufficient.

Have any of the companies building these small electric cars looked at having a fifth-wheel trailer arrangement of some sort that attaches easily and snugly and carries a modest fuel tank, a generator, and connects to the battery system in some fashion? You don't want to pull the extra weight around most of the time, but for the occasional trip when you need it, convert the vehicle to a serial hybrid?

The AC propulsion Tzero Concept car had such a system. I think something like that would work but there needs to be EVs in greater numbers before people start working on such issues.

They already exist. I'm sure rented units will be very popular.

For something really crazy check these out:

Edit: better link

Electric bike with a large trailer would work well and run for almost nothing. With enough amp hours, you could probably do 20 miles round trip and move a lot faster then you ever could pedaling. That is the direction I've been going.

Any serious effort to reduce energy use has to start with an energy audit. Whether you are talking about a global corporation, a government department or a single household, if you don't know how much energy from various sources you are curently using and what it costs, you don't have a chance of developing a practical plan to reduce it. I think regular energy auditing should be incorporated into the annual budget process for any institution that has a budget, and any household that does not have an explicit budget should develop one along with the energy audit.

Beyond that, it would help if the question were better defined.

For instance, which entities are supposed to reduce their oil use? Possibilities include oil refineries; individual households; retail businesses; service industries including vacation resorts; the trucking industry; automobile manufacturers; other manufacturers; agribusiness; state governments; local governments; federal government including the military; and anyone not already covered. Are there businesses, regions, and industries that are to see a general reduction in activity because they are inherently oil-consuming, and the best way to save oil would be to have them shut down?

Another sort of question - should these reductions of oil use take place in the context of a general reduction in use of all fossil fuels, or is shifting energy use toward increased use of other fossil fuels and nuclear power considered a good 'solution?' My own opinion is that a general reduction in energy use is the only sensible approach. I am unwilling to contribute to an effort to create more domestic (or international) consumption of coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

55 mph speed limit

Just my opinion, but the 55 mph speed limit is a poorly designed method to punish those who refuse to make the proper decisions about vehicles. It punishes the person who elects to purchase an SUV that gets 18 mpg (and at 55 gets 20); but it equally punishes the person who bought a compact diesel that gets 45 mpg at 75 mph with the air conditioner running. Differential speed limits (eg, 55 for the SUV and 75 for the compact) are impractical because they are, in practice, quite dangerous.

Note also that the speed limit effectively punishes those who live in rural areas in the western states (a small population, hence small absolute benefit in terms of saving oil) much more severely than people who live in the eastern states. Serious opposition to the 1970s-era 55 mph speed limit was almost exclusively a western phenomenon. I'm old enough to remember the various "Driving across <western state> isn't a job, it's a career" jokes that actually reflected a lot of bitterness by westerners unhappy with one-size-fits-all energy policy.

Finally, assorted studies were never able to show better than a 1% decrease in fuel use due to the 55 mph limit (and some studies showed significantly less than 1%). Note that almost all estimates suggest we could get more savings than that if everyone simply kept their tires properly inflated.

It would be interesting to know the number of vehicle miles travelled in rural settings vs urban settings. From personal observation I would conclude that the urban number is far higher, and in an urban setting the 55 mph speed limit has virtually no effect as the physical speed on urban freeways is usually much less than 55. This is especially during the commute hours, which seem to be almost 24/7 nowdays.

"Finally, assorted studies were never able to show better than a 1% decrease in fuel use due to the 55 mph limit" While I cannot dispute your claim, I live in the country in Western Canada and driving 50 miles to the closest City Edmonton if I drive at 80 kilometers per hour rather than the 110 kilometers per hour posted I managed to increase my mileage by 25%. My understanding is that the coefficient drag increases considerably the faster one travels.

But of course this sort of information pales compared to the need to do everything faster, bigger, better. "We are addicted to speed" I think was a phrase attributed to a former elected person in the US.


Changing your speed helps.

Changing the speed limit doesn't, because people don't change their speed just because they're told to.

No one is questioning that driving slower reduces fuel consumption. (And depressingly, the cutoff is more like 40 or 45 mph for a boxy SUV or truck, as opposed to 55 mph for a conventionally shaped car.)

The issue is whether changing the speed limit actually reduces fuel consumption. Study after study has shown that it does not. Part of it is that people don't comply, and continue to drive as fast as ever. But part of it is that the freeway speed limit affects a relatively small portion of driving. A lot of driving takes place on city and local roads, where no one's going 55, let alone faster. Even on roads designed for high speed...often, there's so much congestion that you can't go 65 anyway. Even when you can, many people choose to go slower. So lowering the speed limit affects a fairly small percentage of drivers, and they ignore it anyway. 85% of drivers are noncompliant.


If anyone is caught exceeding the limit take away their license and impound their vehicle.

If they complain, shoot em...


Lőjön meg a szemetek!


The easiest and fastest way to reduce oil usage is to reduce speed limits. It can be done overnight and would cost little to implement.

Disagree. One, it doesn't work. Two, it can't be done overnight. And three, it would cost money - to change the signs (and possibly other infrastructure), and to enforce it.

We've tried this before, and the impact on fuel consumption was minimal. Mostly because people ignore the speed limit. If you really want people to slow down, you have to re-design the roads so they're not comfortable driving fast on them.

There was an analysis done of this issue a few years ago. It suggested that the best use of a lower speed limit was in case of emergency. Say, a terrorist attack that cut off oil supplies. In a short-term emergency, people would be willing to voluntarily comply with speed limits. Otherwise, they don't work.

You wouldn't have to re-design the roads so people are not comfortable driving fast on them - just cut back on maintenance, and you achieve that goal.

And all indications are that this is the direction we are headed..

It still doesn't happen overnight.

It happens more quickly the more northerly you are.

Reducing the speed limit does reduce fuel usage, getting people to obey the law is a different problem. Link satnav technology, a printer and data from the cars onboard management system and you can give automated speeding tickets. The revenue will pay for the implementation. :)

Make speed uneconomical.

The other day I went to Paris avoiding the motorways. I was surprised the MPG actually improved. So I saved on fuel and of course the big saving was on toll fees, which are very expensive in France.

edit - and you can immobilise the vehicle if a frequent offender.

Driving slower reduces fuel usage. Lowering the speed limit doesn't.

Some kind of speed limiter would work, but that means it's not fast, easy, and "overnight," as you said. It's a big major deal, and no way would it happen in the US. We can't even agree on a mileage tax here.

The EROEI would be terrible. There's a lot of opposition to reducing the speed limit here, and using limited political capital to force through something so unpopular, that doesn't even work, is a terrible idea.

I am old enough to have seen both the 35mph speed limit of WWII and the 55mph speed limit of the 70's. 35 really worked but of course it was combined with A, B and C ration cards, no new cars and a shortage of tires. My impression of 55 was that many if not most drivers slowed down from 75 to 65. It was quite pleasant

Reducing the speed limit can be done overnight and should be a first step and a heads-up for future measures. In Europe this wouldn't require much in the way of sign changes. Fuel savings can be significant, even if there isn't 100% compliance.

Figures from the AA indicate that driving at 70mph uses up to 9pc more fuel than at 60mph, and up to 15pc more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25pc more fuel than at 70mph.

But the reason I put this forward is to show that even a relatively simple conservation method won't be implemented. Simple solutions don't allow our corrupt system to make financial or political profit and will be passed over for more lucrative offerings (such as tax increases). Nothing is going to change until we hit the wall at full speed.

This one will not be implemented because it doesn't work. We tried it before, it didn't work, so why would we do it again? That would be Einstein's definition of insanity.

Far better, IMO, would be to encourage employers to offer flex time, perhaps via tax incentives. Congestion eats up fuel, not to mention people's time. And it would be far more popular that the hugely unpopular speed limit. Is building more roads the answer? Not if budgets are limited and the end of happy motoring looms. Reducing rush hour traffic - spreading the traffic over a longer period of time - would be good for everyone, including those who cannot take advantage of flex time.

The UK has average speed cameras over each lane at mile intervals on some motorways (freeways). They read every numberplate that passes. Travel faster than the speed limit between any two cameras and you get a ticket in the post.

Do it three times (even on the same journey) and you are banned from driving. NOBODY speeds on those roads.

Reducing the speed limit does reduce fuel usage, getting people to obey the law is a different problem. Link satnav technology, a printer and data from the cars onboard management system and you can give automated speeding tickets. The revenue will pay for the implementation. :)

I love this idea; I've played around with it in my head in the past, not so much the device that gives you a speeding ticket in your car, but the idea of tracking mileage with satnav, and using it to charge for usage. You've inspired a couple of new twists on it, though.

I'd be a little less punitive than you: I would reduce the mileage fee depending on how far under the speed limit you are, and I'd throw in a congestion charge if you are on a freeway going less than 50kph.

As for how you pay for usage, you would have a choice: a tranceiver in your car that tracks your usage and bills you monthly, or pay a flat fee- which would be the charge a 95th percentile user might pay. Caught without a tranceiver or a receipt? Lose your car. If you make it cheaper to enroll than to avoid, you will probably get increased compliance.


There is (or was) such a project in Holland Belgium, but frankly way too complex (not to mention Orwelian) to me.
Just put a sizeable volume based tax that gets increased over the years.
Very simple to implement.
No need to record anything about each citizen actions or whatever.
Set up redistribution on the revenus of this tax if necessary (as proposed by J Hansen for instance or above in this thread), or through other means.

Simplicity should be highly prefered especially at our time, as well as the less info to be gathered on people actions the better.

how about just taxing the cars on a monthly basis on their mpg and upping the threshold for taxing a vehicle due to the mpg's it does by one or two every other year or so?

The thing that is getting more scarce and which consumption must be lowered is OIL, so it is gas (and diesel, jet fuel, heating fuel) that needs to be taxed primarily, that's it.
And this will push the machines using the fuel to better efficiency (and/or lighter, less powerfull, change in concept)
Moreover very simple to set up and operate.
Key question would be : why trying to find something else ?
(and this is completely valid out of pure, selfish, US self interests by the way)

Too high a tax will only encourage the most efficient distribution system in the world to enter the market - organized crime.

Simply increasing the cost of fuel does the same and also adjusts for the fuel consumption automagically. No need for all that extra gadgetry and charging system. Oh, maybe the companies that are promoting it would like that.


Lloyd, I don't like the idea, but I'm a realist and know it will be implemented someday. A simple device that can be activated by a speed limit being broken and involves no tracking or data logging until triggered can be installed now. The technology is available today and relatively cheap. I'd guess the technology will be fed into the mainstream slowly and take-up quasi-voluntarily (eg. reduced insurance cost if installed, mandatory for multiple speeding offences, etc.).

The key is simplicity, no complicated charging schemes, simply do the speed the machine says or get fined for speeding. The benefits are purely represented by reduced fuel usage and less accidents. It doesn't involve pricing poor people off the road. With a limited fuel supply we can have a few people going fast or a lot of people going slow, what we can't have is a lot of people going fast.

This is a reply to all and a clarification of the underlying themes of my ideas.

One of my touchpoints here is the behaviour of people who enroll in car sharing schemes. Frequently, they get rid of a car and use the car sharing service as a replacement. The inconvenience of having to sign out a car and get to its parking location causes people to use a car less than if they had a vehicle in their driveway. Some eventually leave the service and do not replace their cars.

I believe a mileage charge based on actual usage would encourage people to drive less, because they can see the actual result of their thrift, and to eventually give up some or all of their access to private personal transport(perhaps having one car instead of two or using some kind of car rental or sharing.) I think a mileage charge would introduce a level of fairness into the system that is visible to the user. Finally, I think that such a system would act the way car sharing systems do for some users- to help encourage a non-automotive-centric lifestyle.

I don't just want people to drive the speed limit- I want them to stop driving.

Now, I can hear the "it can't happen in suburban America, there's no transit blah blah blah-" crowd already, and, well, it's not for suburban America. They can continue to drive their gas guzzlers and pay for the privilege. There are people who live in urban environments who can avoid driving, and who should be both encouraged and rewarded for doing so. They are the people who would respond to this system.

So- instant feedback, transparency, fairness and the appearance thereof, and a method that allows you to taper off your usage and to be rewarded for every little effort you make. A lack of complexity rewards the peak and middle users, not the outliers who use the system the least. I want a system that rewards those who use the system the least, and punishes those who refuse to change. I think a complex system that looks at individual usage would do this.

That said, I'm sure a machine speced to do what I want could easily do what Burgundy wants at the same time. Voila! One machine that tickets the speed demons and rewards those who drive as little as possible.

As for you "slap a tax on it" guys, I live in North America. Land of the free, and home of idiots who dogmatically think taxes are evil in and of themselves. I would support taxes rather than fees (and the difference is largely semantic: what is a road usage tax based on verified mileage if not a fee for use?) I just tend to form my arguments based on my environment.

I would want my tax based on verified usage, however. Nothing subtle like a gradual yearly increase based on fuel economy.


A straight forward fuel tax would achieve that without the needs of creating new, complex systems and devices.


Exactly, not to mention avoiding all this Orwellian delirium, and much cheaper to set up. And if some guy wants to keep on riding his muscle car and has the money, he is free to do so, full stop.

Do things to reduce travel, and therefore reduce gas/diesel consumption

*a* promote telecommuting and flexible work hours---makes businesses more efficient

*b* promote something like "hire a local" to encourage businesses to preferentially hire people who live within walking or biking distance...could work well with jobs that have many applicants and don't really require anything special---employees will value job more as it doesn't require costly commute

*c* promote stay-cations and local area bike tour vacations---keeps cash in local economy

*d* apply a fuel tax that went directly to public transport and bike lanes---drivers benefit too as it reduces congestion

*e* adjust zoning laws to permit corner stores in neighborhoods (works well with b)---walkable neighborhoods are fashionable, could raise property value

*f* reduce frequency of re-asphalting roads, makes driving less pleasant and reduces asphalt use---saves municipalities money, reduces drag racing and other reckless driving

*g* promote walking and bike commuting with advertising and support programs like work place showers and bike storage---reduces health care expenditure and work time lost for illness, reduces congestion, makes municipality more fashionable

Note that *f* will make the bike parts of *d* and *g* very unpleasant, intolerably time-consuming, and/or somewhat more risky (flying rocks, tires snakebitten on pothole lips or loose rocks, etc. etc.) long before it deters driving cars, most of which have nice big mushy tires and nice big mushy springs...

asphalt the bike lane only? Around here potholes are a big motivator for people to minimize driving.

And slows traffic.


'Just Pave the Bike Paths..'
I like that one.

And for bike lanes that were truly separated from roadways, it would have better durability, since trucks wouldn't be using it. It really won't be that hard or expensive to create a variety of decent pathways for cycling, and in places like Portland, we have a small fleet of Sidewalk Snow-clearing vehicles which would allow these paths to remain usable for much of the winter. (Or we could convert them to Ski trails for Dec/Mar..)

Changing transportation fuel from gasoline and diesel to NG seems to be a no brainer.

If you start off by encouraging buses, fleets of local delivery vehicles and other fixed base vehicles, the delivery system wouldn't be so expensive. If people saw how much cheaper and cleaner it was they would be interested. If there was demand then gas stations would put in the new pumps.

There must be some major roadblock that I don't see. Except for T Boone Pickens no one is even talking about it.

Alan -- you might want to cast your eye over J M Greer's policy proposals in "The Wealth of Nature," final chapter. He discusses taxes, public accounting, and other policy ingredients for a saner economy and culture. Particularly his proposal of dividing the economy into primary, secondary and tertiary economies and selectively taxing primary and tertiary activities (extraction and speculation) rather than secondary (processing, labour, transformation)... I find that intriguing and am mulling it over trying to find a flaw.

On a previous DB thread an astute poster -- no time right now to go back and find the original text, but credit goes to the OP whom I am merely paraphrasing -- suggested a Distance Tax. All products should be taxed based on distance from the purchaser.

This makes some sense to me. For example, there should be a distance tax on vacations which is rather high if you insist on taking your family from N America to, say, Zanzibar for a package tour, but nil if you take your family camping in the regional park which is a mere 50 miles from your home. Cruise ship and air travel vacationing should be expensive. It *is* expensive -- it's just that the "externalised" costs are shoved off onto the world at large, not shouldered by those who indulge themselves in luxury travel.

Transport costs in theory should act as a de facto tax, as do border tariffs: living in Canada I am less likely to purchase from the States when I pay high shipping costs and import duties. However, oftentimes those costs and duties have nothing to do with real distance: I am close to Seattle but far, far from Quebec, yet I am taxed more heavily to buy something from Seattle than from Quebec. Time to stop worrying so much about geopolitical borders and think more about km travelled -- and mode of transport as well: goods travelling by rail should cost less than goods travelling by truck or plane, no?

Oddly enough it can be cheaper for me to buy a book via amazon.ca from a seller in the UK than in WA.USA. Something about special international airmail rates. How much sense does that make eh? A distance tax might sort that out. It would also discourage the practise of stripmining distant and relatively defenseless countries for bulk resources; oil from overseas should be taxed galore, until it's more economical to live within the energy budget of your local area. Long haul trade should be reserved for high-value goods only, a froth of luxury trade floating on a firm basis of local resilience. Right now our entire economy seems to be froth, and is collapsing like an ill-fated souffle.

Taxing long haul goods heavily (maybe exponentially with distance!) and earmarking the revenue for resilience projects such as rail, reforestation, basic health care, land reform, etc. makes a lot of sense to me. It would "hurt" me personally (I do indeed buy stuff direct from HK via Ebay on occasion), but it makes good sense and I'd support it as policy.

So, you would rather produce a good locally but inefficiently energy-wise than produce it very efficiently in another country and then ship it, even though the latter would save energy?

You're making this harder than it is. Globally agreed upon carbon taxes would fix this much more efficiently.

Producing a product in large amounts in large factories may be more efficient, but not producing the product at all uses even less energy. A tax like this one would probably cut consumption considerably, and maybe that's a good thing. Better than just cutting consumption a tax like this cuts consumption in a way that wont necessary destroy all the jobs because that inefficiently you mentioned means that there is room for human labor.

I think that keeping things going the way they have been going would require a huge amount of cooperation from many different groups of people (for example getting everyone to agree on a carbon tax). Is it really possible to get all these people to work together? This isn't a rhetorical question. I really would like to know the answer to it, but I am not sure if anyone will really know for sure until after the fact.

It's like peek oil is a gap and we are all running towards the gap. If we speed up we might be able to jump over the gap, and if we slow down we might be able to stop before we reach it. If we keep going the way we are going we are going to fall in. Speeding up and slowing down both have their risks and we can probably argue forever about which choice is the best one, but we need to make a choice because we can't speed up and slow down at the same time. I would probably be ok with either option if it was done in the right way, but I'm not really ok with doing nothing.

The quantity of bureaucracy and accounting labor to track this just boggles the mind.

We already have huge amounts of bureaucracy and accounting labor. I don't think that this would add much too much to what exists already. Marking products with some kind of label that tells were it was manufactured would probably help with keep track of things.

Reclassify SUVs and vans carrying fewer than 9 passengers as passenger cars, rather than light trucks, for regulatory purposes.

Place a moratorium on the construction of new roadbeds in other than already built-up areas, i.e. no new roads and streets in green field developments.

Institute a "One Automobile" policy to include:

1. All families, no matter if their name is Gore or Clem Nobody, gets one motor vehicle.

2. Auto Tax equal to 25% of the family's income.

Thus making it impossible to have one tiny car for commuting and a larger one for other less frequent driving and hurting large families living space and energy efficinet in the same house or apartment.

Tax the fuel, preferably with a CO2 tax, and get adaptation to expensive fuel before the post peak oil crunch, although it might be a little late. :-(

Magnus, how about just make it one tiny car per family, period.

We can't keep trying to bargain on behalf of the autocentric freakshow our culture has become. Just pull the teet away ;)

(by the way, your alias always clicks "Otis Redding" in my head, and then starts "sitting on the dock of the bay"... so thank you for that)

'Magnus, how about just make it one tiny car per family, period.'

Moving children in a car has become very expensive because of safety requirements. Expensive because this what sells large cars/vans with large back seats and poor milage.

People actually think that large back seats are safer? The worst safety tragedy would be if parents let their children roam around in the big safe back seat instead of strapping them in properly with seat belts. I hope they buy a smaller car, use the seat belts and saves some money to keep the tires fresh.

Large back seats are safer, because they have room for child safety seats. That is one thing that drives the sale of SUVs. Some people have very large families here in the US, and even those who don't carpool other people's kids to sports practice, etc. In the old days, the kids would be thrown into the back of the pickup truck or station wagon. Now, you'd probably be arrested if you did that.

Interesting...we put our child seats way back when in the back seat of a Mazda 323...not a large car.

We also have put child seats for other folk's squids (on visit with us) in the back of a Hyundai Elantra and a Nissan Versa.

I guess my wife and I are not Sasquatches and do not need the seats slid back the whole way in the front to accommodate us...

We have car-pooled children to girls and boys soccer practices/games in these and similar small cars we have owned.

And...it is indeed unsafe to ride folks in the bed of a pick-up truck...we lost several folks at bases I was at in the Air Force from falling out of the back of Air Force pick-up trucks driving on the flight line (they were maintainers)...the Air Force rightly banned that practice by offering serious penalties to anyone not complying. They spent too much money recruiting and training these folks to waste them like that.

When I was in Shreveport/Bossier LA, I shook my head when I saw the 'family truckster; station wagon barreling down the road with the two little kids standing in the middle and right front street...one hanging out the half-rolled-down window!

In sum, gasoline is still way cheap enough in the U.S. to give lots of folks the wiggle room to justify wants as needs.

A few weeks ago my wife filled up for $2.76 in Albuquerque (it is now ~ $3.02...been bouncing up and down +/- ~30 cents every other week)...folks who remember ~$4.50 gas a few years ago regard ~$3.00 gas as a happy daze bargain!

Sure, you can put a couple of child safety seats in the back seat of small car. Maybe three. But what if you have four kids? What if you typically travel with grandma and grandpa as well as two kids and the spouse? What if you're carpooling six kids to soccer practice? Is it really more fuel-efficient to take two cars instead of one?

I'd have to say this is an example of why the doomers have the view that they do. We're not willing to let go of even the smallest of BAU practices. Hauling the kids around to soccer practice and all the other activities that they used to just walk or ride bikes to. It hurts me to now be developing the "old fart" sound, but when I was a kid in the 1960's I put many, many miles on my bicycle doing what kids are now driven to. Taught me how to fix a flat tire many times, too. No way were my parents going to drive me all over like they do today. If something was too far away to get to by bike, I didn't go!

Well speak for yourself but that has nothing to do with why I am a doomer. Riding bikes and consuming less will not save the world. If everyone rode bikes and consumed half what they do today then at least half those employed today would be unemployed. And that Mr. Johnson is what will cause the economies of the world to collapse.

Ron P.

I see, it's my duty to consume as much as I can to keep the world employed? NOT!


I understand your point about what will cause the collapse, you're right about the consumption reduction causing the collapse. But the consumption reduction is going to happen anyway, whether the reduction is voluntary or involuntary. People are not willing to see that BAU isn't going to continue no matter what they do and they're making no preparations for getting used to it.

The problem is we have too many people and too few resources. Consuming more would only make the problem worse because you would be taking needed resources from others who need it more. But people and nations do not give food and other resources away, people must pay for them. Therein lies the problem. When people have no money they buy nothing. This causes even more people to be unemployed.

The problems with the economies of Greece, Spain, Italy, the USA, Japan or wherever is not because they consume too much petrol or anything else.

Ron P.

I do see that the primary problem is the population, but there's not anything that I can personally do about that, having had no kids myself. All the other "problems" are caused by that primary one. I am NOT one of those people that think that the world will be saved if I just buy a green car or use the right brand of light bulb. I may not be as strident about the population problem as others here, but I DO agree with them, and you. If we can't admit that we have a "small" problem caused by excess consumption, how are we ever going to admit that we have a BIG problem caused by population?

Of course we have an over consumption problem. But simply consuming less would not solve the problem. Or rather it would fix one problem and cause another, likely even worse problem. People are employed producing all that extra stuff we could easily do without. And if we did do without all that extra stuff those people would be unemployed.

And after the unemployment reaches a certain point it has a snowball effect. As more and more people are unemployed they consume even less. And that in turn causes even more unemployment.

Consuming less is simply not the way out of this quagmire. And I anticipate your next question; what is the way out of this quagmire? Well, they just ain't none. And that is why I am a doomer.

Ron P.

You're absolutely right, there's no way out. I already know that and I don't ask the question. That doesn't mean that I don't look for ways to deal with the effects of this predicament. I'm just using the consumption issue as an indicator of people's refusal to face up to anything. If people won't even look at the small over-consumption problem, they're not going to ever admit that there's a huge mess that they can't solve, even when it hits them. I'm not going to say "since I'm going to crash anyway, full speed ahead!" I'm going to work on dealing with the predicament in how it effects me. I know that won't help the big picture in any way, but I don't get as stressed trying to solve an unsolvable problem. I guess the day I'm composted will be when I make my contribution to overcoming the mess.

You're absolutely wrong.

People are employed producing all that extra stuff we could easily do without. And if we did do without all that extra stuff those people would be unemployed.

This is wrong on multiple levels.

1. People in general cannot easily do without the "stuff". Yes, many North Americans can shed some excess consumption, but that is getting increasingly irrelevant.
2. The European example shows energy consumption and car-related consumption can be halved without excess unemployment.
3. It should be self-evident that kids not biking to school and soccer practice isn't necessary for growth nor employment. It is easy to place your money into other consumption with different resource profiles.
4. Isn't the Olduvai story at least close to the core of PO thinking? That less free energy means less leisure time and more labor?

Consuming less is simply not the way out of this quagmire. And I anticipate your next question; what is the way out of this quagmire? Well, they just ain't none. And that is why I am a doomer.

Consuming differently is the way out. And regarding oil, this isn't even for us to choose - PO force it upon us. I don't see this as a big economic issue, actually, so in that sense I'm cornucopian. Until recently, I was also an AGW optimist. However, now, after Fukushima, the shale gas glut and the continued rise of the wind/PV alibies for coal/NG, I'm in the AGW doom camp. Nuclear can save us, but, as it seems, won't.

To use your words: "You're absolutely wrong."

1. People in general cannot easily do without the "stuff". Yes, many North Americans can shed some excess consumption, but that is getting increasingly irrelevant.

That they could or could not do without "stuff" is not the argument. The point is if they did do without the "stuff" then the people who are employed producing the "stuff" would be unemployed. Really Jeppen, I don't think that is very hard to understand.

2. The European example shows energy consumption and car-related consumption can be halved without excess unemployment.

No it does not! Jeeze Jeppen, you know better than that. Europeans have never cut their car-related consumption in half. It has always been that way. That is the way their culture evolved from the very start. If they did cut their car-related consumption in half then the people who produce what they cut would be unemployed just as they would in the US.

We are talking about suddenly cutting, or even cutting over a ten year period. That would throw tens of thousands out of work. Europeans have never done that.

3. It should be self-evident that kids not biking to school and soccer practice isn't necessary for growth nor employment. It is easy to place your money into other consumption with different resource profiles.

If kids started biking to school of practice it would make little difference. Save a few barrels of oil perhaps. But if half the population stopped buying cars and biked everywhere instead it would have a tremendous effect... on the unemployment rate. It would skyrocket.

4. Isn't the Olduvai story at least close to the core of PO thinking? That less free energy means less leisure time and more labor?

Huh? What does that have to do with the subject being discussed? I really don't care what PO thinking is. But if the post collapse world relies on agriculture then that does require a lot of backbreaking labor. But that is an entirely different subject.

Consuming differently is the way out.

Consuming differently will save the world from resource depletion? From falling water tables? From topsoil depletion? From rivers running dry? From weather change? From desertification? From ocean fisheries disappearing? From extinction of most of the world's megafauna?

Okay, even if I buy that argument, which I don't, how are you going to convince the world to consume differently? Get a soap box and start preaching to them? Lotsa luck.

Ron P.

We are talking about suddenly cutting, or even cutting over a ten year period. That would throw tens of thousands out of work. Europeans have never done that.

We can agree that (partly) abandoned consumption patterns cause some transient unemployment while the economy recalculates what to do with the freed resources. However, that added unemployment is just that - transient.

Btw, does tens of thousands matter much in a 300 million people economy?

But if half the population stopped buying cars and biked everywhere instead it would have a tremendous effect... on the unemployment rate. It would skyrocket.

Would it? Would the biking people just save the money they free? I think they would spend it on other stuff.

Btw, bike sales and repairs would skyrocket, and there would be the labor-intensive need for building more bike-friendly cities.

What does that have to do with the subject being discussed?

Depends. If we're talking about consuming less overall, i.e. not using money, i.e. saving, we could talk about what that would mean for employment, investments and so on in different time perspectives. (I think Americans should save more for some time, and that would mean you should work as much but send some more of the goods to China.) If we're talking of consuming less energy and what that means for employment, the Olduvai story is relevant.

Consuming differently will save the world from resource depletion? From falling water tables? From topsoil depletion? From rivers running dry? From weather change? From desertification? From ocean fisheries disappearing? From extinction of most of the world's megafauna?

In a word, yes. Especially when it comes to fisheries, that should be obvious. Stop eating fish.

Okay, even if I buy that argument, which I don't, how are you going to convince the world to consume differently?

In the case of resource depletion, that is handling itself. It may be good to do it pre-emptively, and we've talked about gas taxes. Obviously, Europe and Japan has found a way. I can't fix the US problem, though, but I'm sure you'll come around eventually.

Skimming this, I noticed "2. The European example". Forget that, it's rubbish. The Europeans borrowed their way to pseudo-prosperity just like everyone else. And now they're proving Stein's law (if it can't go on it won't) just like everyone else. IOW, as per one of Thatcher's comments, they've run out of other people's money. And they've done so big-time.

The only lesson left for them to teach in this context is that if you jam a lot of people into a tiny space, the congestion decreases mobility and the enormous expense decreases dwelling size. (For that matter, Japan can teach the same lessons.) But the folks in North America who actually want to be crammed and jammed in that manner already have their wish, they can and do live at ruinous cost in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, etc. Others elsewhere might resist the notion of living that way, and probably couldn't afford it anyhow.

The European example". Forget that, it's rubbish. The Europeans borrowed their way to pseudo-prosperity just like everyone else.

Is that statement based on something more than a few news headlines regarding Greece and Italy? To me it doesn't make sense at all.

"Forget that, it's rubbish. The Europeans borrowed their way to pseudo-prosperity just like everyone else. "

Lol, talk about warped up reasoning, are you trying to say that the US wouldn't be in a better position TODAY with a vehicle fleet 50% more efficient than the one it currently has ?

When you add this to the quasi total American ignorance about the geopolitical and historical aspects of oil (even here) ...

We ARE on the downward slope of Energy availibility, no question about that.

You have to understand, though - the people making these choices don't see any reason to change BAU. And that's a very natural human response. As Jared Diamond points out, anything that lasts 80 years or so is seen as permanent.

typewriters (Underwood, Selectric, etc).

I don't think those were the things he had in mind. Things that have lasted are prosperity in a world of plenty, growing old and never to have known hunger.

I know, that is not the case in most of the world but it is in our little corner of the world. And that is where we get all our editorial opinions from.

Ron P.

I understand your questions...

- If a family has more than two children (let alone 4), the Mother and/or Father already are claiming resources beyond the replacement ration of ~2 children per woman.

If that is the case, well, then they would seek to buy a larger vehicle, if they can afford the purchase price and fuel.

If the situation is such that they cannot afford that solution, then we can circle back around to 'why did you have four kids to begin with'...unless you know upfront that you are independently well-off enough to handle the financial load, invariant of having/losing a job, the stock market and/or your house prices tanking, etc.

I see this choice as irresponsible as that of someone buying a too-expensive house without a prior having the funds securely available to pay it off, including taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities.

If a couple has two kids and the four of them are all that can safely fit in their vehicle, then I suppose Grandma and Pap can come in their separate vehicle, or the mo or Dad can stay with the kids and go pick up mi-ma and grampa...or, the family can buy a big vehicle if they can afford it (I wonder if the grand=parents will help front those costs?).

As I said, gasoline prices are perceived by many to be not a big issue right now, because folks recall the ~ $4.50 gasoline of just a few years ago. The fact is, if more people go w/o jobs and more people see their real incomes decline, and concurrently if fuel prices increase, many folks will come to regard things they now perceive as 'needs' to be 'wants'/luxuries.

Plenty of folks have, throughout my life, figured out how to get by w/o Pickups or SUVs etc.

I also see plenty of construction tradesmen/laborers who show to the job site in small cars.

I also see plenty of folks in Silverados and F-150s and SUVs commuting by themselves to work, w/o any cargo...the vehicles are status symbols, bought to feel safe by riding high above others with 4,000 lbs of steel around one, etc.

Market price for fuel will dictate people's choices, and right now, based on what I see on the streets and higheways in/around my city, many folks apparently do not feel pinched.

It is funny how I see lots of low-MPG vehicles /New!/ in poorer neighborhoods, and more Priuses etc driven by folks of more means.

it is /not/ a matter of price, as one can review my other post on this DB showing that there are /many/ highly-fuel efficient /and/ rather inexpensive vehicles for sale which are less expensive to own and operate that the bigger/lower-MPG vehicles many folks buy, not because they are less expensive, to to fill a need in their psyche.

Sure, some people buy cars as toys. There's no practical reason for a civilian to own a Hummer. Pain to drive and uncomfortable to ride in.

But there has also been a genuine change in what's "needed," because of changes in laws on child safety and societal expectations. I suspect it's related to smaller family size. You can have fewer kids, if you expect them all to live, so it's probably not something we want to discourage.

I read the article at your link.

My wife and I would have been super-hot also if our children were related to ride in the cargo are of the other family's SUV.

This practice is absolutely unsafe, and I would imagine it is illegal as well.

I agree that children are worth protecting...and I agree that with fewer children that becomes more obvious for most, but that is a sad statement on the value of human life I guess...to value your children's lives substantially more if one has two vice four or more.

Back to how this ties into what car to buy...all the cars on my list, including the least expensive and highest mileage ones, meet current safety regs...and one can get a new car from this list for as cheap as about $10K, if one eschews the options. Back to the 'soccer mom' question then...that is up for folks to decide...drive two cars, go without, or pay the price to buy and operate something more expensive.

drive two cars, go without, or pay the price to buy and operate something more expensive.

Precisely. And it's a decision people are making every day. Few people actually want to drive a minivan. It's a people-mover, driven by parents who in the old days might have let kids ride in the back of the station wagon or on grandma's lap when necessary. (I remember going on field trips with my mom's sixth graders when I was 3 or 4. I typically sat in one of her student's laps. Can you imagine that happening today?)

Why regulate peoples hobbies be it old steam trains or heavy american cars being driven during summer vacations? Odd low volume environmental impacts dont need to be regulated.

And if one family member starts working as a plumber, carpenter, etc and needs a car for tools and material it will need special permits and that is clumsy.

Families are both created and broken up and your suggestion would ad car permits as an additional mess.

Taxation is better then regulation if you like people being free and doing things you have not thought about. Our culture has not entered the freak show stage, cars are important but not dominating everything.

Magnus Redin is btw not an alias, I dont use aliases, whatever I say wise or dumb is my word.

Okay, instead of a "One Auto" policy per family, change it to:

One Automobile per community.

"Why regulate peoples hobbies... Odd low volume..."

Of course the answer goes without saying. Some people just seem wedded to the notion of arbitrary, tyrannical bureaucracy wielding coercion and force for its own sadistic pleasure. Of course, you don't see them moving to Cuba or North Korea, so it's not really that they want to endure such a thing themselves. Rather, they envision themselves as self-appointed overlords, bossing everyone else around because they are smarter than everyone else, dictating and rigidly micromanaging how everyone else is to live.

Environmentalism and resource issues tend to bring out the very worst of that. This Drumbeat has demonstrated it in spades, and it might be best simply to pretend that said demonstration never happened.

????? I must have missed something ...

I do like the "arbitrary, tyrannical" part though. Very funny.

"All families, no matter if their name is Gore or Clem Nobody, gets one motor vehicle."

How would this policy be implemented?
what would happen to all the surplus vehicles that have embedded energy (the cost or building them in the first place).

No, I think that when the issue hits you in the pocketbook you make choices to drive less, slower, collectively.

When paying for your license renewal the weight of the vehicle ought to be a determining factor under 1000 pounds X over 1000 pounds X+ and then exponentially X+ as each 100 pounds is added.


"How would this policy be implemented?"

By force.

"what would happen to all the surplus vehicles that have embedded energy"

Melt them down - use the metal for plows or something useful.

"Institute a "One Automobile" policy to include:"

So I have to sell the Aveo (35 mpg) and do ALL my driving in the F-150 (16 MPG)? And this is going to save gas?

Can I have some of what you are smoking? No, wait, I still need my job. Look me up when I retire in 2025. Then I'll be able to try it.

"So I have to sell the Aveo (35 mpg) and do ALL my driving in the F-150 (16 MPG)? And this is going to save gas?"

NO you do not have to sell your Aveo or drive your f-150, just melt them down with the rest of the autos.

Yes, this will save gas

"Can I have some of what you are smoking?"

Yes, I will share.

1) Reduced speed limits across the board, though this is most important on highways.
2) Discourage oil use during off peak, non commute hours. Maybe this can be accomplished with night curfews. Some of this is also a business decision, of course. Why businesses choose to be open for 24 hours is beyond me (oh yeah, they can't get enough fiat money).
3) Incentivize smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles, across the board (no exceptions for trucks, etc.)
4) More cargo by rail, and less by truck and plane.
5) Reform our financial system; credit needs to become expensive and hard to get.
6) Zero growth in population: this can be accomplished by reducing immigration, and reforming healthcare so that more emphasis is put on broad based public health, and less on futile measures towards the end of life.

Of course, none of the above has a snowball's chance in hell of taking place. Not only that, but this is just a start, just the beginning of what would need to be a decades long process.

Might as well load up on the beans, bullets, and bullion. This ship is going down.

For many traditional vehicles, the best fuel economy is achieved at speeds around 45 to 50 mph. That's the point at which the transmission has shifted into highest gear, while the air drag is still rather small. For these vehicles, driving slower results in downshifting, thus reduced fuel economy. For newer vehicles, which use some sort of continuously variable transmission or a multiple gear transmission, the engine can be operated at an RPM which gives maximum efficiency, thus slower speeds might result in increased MPGs. We already know how to achieve great MPGs, above 100 mpg, just not how to do it at freeway speeds above 70 mph with conventional side-by-side 4 passenger seating. Think VW 1 Litre...

E. Swanson

Alan wrote;

One is to encourage children to walk and bike to school more.

This has already been tried, at great expense, and failed;

Take Bailey Elementary School in Woodbury, Minnesota. Like most suburban-style school buildings, it has a problem: kids don’t walk to school.

In the hubbub, no one notices what’s missing – the dying practice of walking to school. Of 620 students at Bailey, not one walks – not even those who live one block away. Managers of a 6-year-old federal program think they know why.

Children don’t walk to schools like Bailey because of the lack of sidewalks and safe street crossings. But after spending $820 million to promote walking to school and reducing childhood obesity, there is no sign the program has actually added any walkers at all.

The whole story is here The long drive to school

So, lets not waste any more money trying to "encourage" people to do stuff, lets spend the money actually doing stuff

In the case of walking to school, that means addressing the reasons, outlined in that article, why parents are discouraging their kids from walking. No amount of PR is going to change that, it needs the communities to change themselves.

How much is the physical abarriers, (sidewalks, crossing guards, etc.), versus how much is the pschology of fear. The MSM uses, kid kidknappings as a staple for getting people to watch news. The result, the perception of the danger is massively out of proportion to the risks. So every parent feels they gotta drive Johny, because others some pervert will get him. Sinec this is how the MSM increases its audience, and MSM id for profit, the incentives to change this sorry situation doesn't exist.

As I've said before, the "environmental" and "consumer" "movements" have spent the last four or five decades scaring people out of their wits over nothing or next to nothing in pursuit of various political agendas - very often nostalgia for some sort of pleasantly quaint pseudo-Victorian social arrangement that never existed, salted with a dash of anti-corporatism, thrown in for its own sake.

The hysterically overblown kid-"safety" thing is simply one part of the blowback. Eventually, a hysterical overreaction with respect to bicycle and e-bike "safety" will join it. The removal of "smart electric meters" over imaginary radio-frequency radiation "risk" is another minor bit of blowback. And it will go on and on and on, because it will be far, far harder to undo, if it can be undone at all, than it was to do.

Easy. We should have a recession.

OK, that's already in the plan.
No, it's not. No-one is in control of this economic crash. It is just happening.

Education. The population must understand that interest charged on loans automatically mandates that the economy must grow to pay back the principle plus the interest.
See http://www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse

It is an old topic on the Oil Drum but we have to go to a 4 day week as part of the de-growth plan.

Also, those who live in colder climates might consider:

The units sell for $2000 per kilowatt housed inside a standard steel shipping container that will ship anywhere in the world. Sterling Allan of PESN who attended the recent deal-closing demonstration reports that all products are currently designed for industrial and agency use, and “smaller units for domestic use by individuals, [will be] ready in about a year’s time” citing pending certifications as the delay.



It's important to focus on approaches which can make the scale of change necessary, at the pace needed. It also needs to be easy to implement, mainly as a low level driver of other changes.

As such the focus needs to be on passenger vehicles (50% of liquid fuel usage) and particularly commuting, which is the big driver of cost.

My quick and simple approach? Make companies liable for their staff commuting cost. They would very rapidly act to reduce it if they had to pay; with a variety of tools they could use. Telecommuting would become usual, ride sharing required and work practice would adapt. Perhaps most importantly, they wouldn't position themselves in city centres with their staff in the suburbs.

Shopping, school, sports are the other major areas. Shopping can be managed by giving tax incentives to provide free delivery. School should be done via school bus - leaving sports as an exercise for the reader.


People like me immediately think of the obvious solution - make the price of fossil fuels represent their real true cost to the planet and our grandchildren- which is unbearably huge. That will make us think a lot harder before using them.

But at the moment at least, since practically everything we do uses petroleum, jacking up its cost would be a real killer to everybody but the super-rich. So it’s a political no-no, despite the necessity of doing it.

Maybe the fee/dividend idea just might work. Here it is.

First,put a big and ever-increasing fee on all fossil fuels.

So if anyone uses fossil fuels for anything, they see a high price for it, getting higher every year- no escape.

Next, take that fee- every penny of it- and immediately give it right back, equal amounts to each citizen, every month. No tax, no government, no management, no lobby, just an automatic monthly check to everybody.

So, for example, I pay a fee for my car fuel, for my food growing and transport, for my airplane flights- for anything that uses fossil fuel, that is to say, everything.

And my friend who uses more of all of the above, pays more fee.

At the end of the month, both of us get back as a dividend, the same amount of all the fees from all fossil fuels. So parsimonious people like me get more back than they paid in fee, and the big fuel burners get back far less than they paid in fees.

So, the result-- we all start looking for ways to live without paying that big fee. And, as we all know, if there is somebody looking around for something and has money to spend to get it (the dividend) , then somebody else will start making something for that somebody to buy. In my case, I would love to buy an electric car that can run on solar energy. No gas fee! Big dividend! Bigger Holier-Than-Thou syndrome!

Same goes for home heating, airlines, anything that uses fossil fuels- people will start looking for substitutes. And they will find them. They are in fact already out there, just not yet being used because at the moment anyhow, fossil fuels are “cheaper”.

But not really- they are costing us our planet, and people alive today are going to have to pay for it.

Read all about it at:


I always like your ideas.

I would love to hear anybody who cares to comment on the "Fee and Dividend" proposal at the above link. Sounds a little odd at first, but I don't see a problem with it, except possibly admin. costs.. but that many dividends moving around, I'd think we could establish a reasonable 'direct deposit' for many/most of them..


20 million barrels per day at $100/barrel. Add a $200/barrel fee and you get European gas prices. That's 20e6*365*$200 = $1.46 trillion/year. Per capita handout ("dividend") would be $4867/year, or $406/month, or $1600 for a family of four. But then gas consumption would fall, so it would be less. Anyway, I guess you could cut down on welfare checks and minimum wage mandates quite a lot in this case. Perhaps a nice side effect?

Nice summary, about the "dividend", Hansen proposal is half dividend part per child I think, also makes sense.

Grow wind turbines on the Great Plains, tie the electric grid together to distribute the power, use it to make hydrogen. I know, I know, everybody on this board seems to pooh-pooh hydrogen as too inefficient in the conversion, but I just don't see battery-only vehicles as making it. For the consumer, hydrogen vehicles are the most similar to fossil fuel vehicles in terms of performance, range, practicality.

Gradually raise the fuel tax by a penny or two per month, give people plenty of time to adjust.

Set a date five years from now after which new small vehicles (less than a pickup or workman's van) cannot be fueled by fossil fuels. Over the years, gradually increase the size of vehicles that cannot be fueled by FF.

Electrify the rail system and build out HSR. Electrify transit. Gradually ban air travel for short distances in the high speed rail corridors.

Moratorium on new fossil fueled power plants until 80% of electricity is renewables.

Improve the management of freight railroads so they think in terms of service, not costs. Increase competition between railroads by having large reciprocal switching districts as in Canada.

Require new factories and warehouses of greater than X size be located on rail.

Combine flights in dense corridors - just have one "joint airline" fly between N. Cal and S. Cal, any airline can buy into the flights and sell the seats. End the nonsense of three airlines each having flights every hour - put them on one bigger more fuel efficient plane (It would really expose the truth that airlines are all pretty much the same, except the color of the planes and seats).

Establish a CAFE standard for airlines per passenger mile so nobody buys old inefficient planes to start up a new airline.

This one is so obvious I'm surprised nobody mentioned it. Replace oil by gas for heat in industrial processes. According to this recent news release from LLNL, last year the US was still burning 8.0 quads of oil in the industrial sector.

The quantity has has been dropping for decades but I'm sure there is still a considerable potential of fuel switching to do. And best of all, at a reasonable price.

Transport uses over 3x as much. 1/3 reduction in transport would swamp anything less than 100% in industrial.


Hey, look at that great big reject heat from transport! Just turn transport into all electric, driven by lots of small generators all over the place, and use their reject heat to do all the heating. Get rid of that lousy IC waste heater in all the vehicles, and we are half way home free.

And, of course, all of a sudden all those little R&D stirling engines I had to toss in the garbage dump suddenly become the things of the future. Heh, heh, heh kof, uggg--- (the last laugh).

PS, as for how to stay warm in that electric vehicle, I have thought of that too. Just go down to the new to u store,and get a big bellowy down comforter, and turn it into a seat poncho you slip into when you get in the car. Either that, or get an IV attached to a little microwave. See? there are always solutions, just keep your eye open.

It is no fun when bicycling in the heat here to end up stuck between cars, it is like being in a furnace.I was stuck beside one big SUV today and it was like being in front of a fan heater.

When in the UK I had to park in front of the house, no garage or driveway. During the winter I would wake up to an iced/frosted windscreen and cold car. Solved both by popping a fan heater in there for 10 mins before leaving.


I wonder how that Industrial Oil use breaks down?

Does it generally mean motors and generators that supply grid-independent electric power for remote work, Oil-based ICE machinery, Heat?

Most of it is feedstock for chemicals, not process heat. What process heat use of petroleum there is mostly in refineries and chemical plants, and is mostly gases or solids, not liquids. There are of course things like diesel pumps, generators for isolated mines and farms and gravel pits, etc.

Encouraging bicycling is one of the best options:

  • In an urban environment, a bike goes 2/3 as fast as a car. (12 mph net vs. 20 mph net). Given that bikes go door-to-door while cars require parking and walking, total time is often about the same.
  • With a 7-mile commute, I find that driving costs $6 each day ($3 gas, $3 parking).
  • Those who do not bicycle to work have 39% higher all-cause mortality than those who do, including the often-overestimated possibility of being hit by a car. (Google "Andersen bicycle mortality Denmark")
  • Bicycling to work will add around 8 years to your life. Eating your vegetables: a few months. Bicycling fights heart disease, stroke, diabetes.
  • Electric bikes are a great option for those who have hills or don't want to pedal. An e-bike gets 1000 mpg in energy equivalent. It can be powered by a single solar panel, sustainable at reasonable cost.
  • Bicycles are 10X as efficient as cars in cost and infrastructure per person transported.

I like your vision on biking.

But...In Albuquerque, it takes me ~ 25 minutes to drive ~ 12 miles door-to-door, no parking fees, and I am not a sweathog when I arrive at work. Biking would take me 2-3 times as long...if I was suicidal enough to try it...

When ABQ exercises eminent domain and builds a couple of North-South paved bike paths with cross-street over-and-unders, then I will be 'all-in' for biking to work...I will shower at the nearby gym at the facility where I work.

No, you can't bike along the sides arroyos (for those that have paths), because they all go East-West, none go North-South.

I see exactly zero bicyclists on the main drag N-S surface streets in ABQ during commuter hours (and almost none any other time of day)...because there are no bike lanes and drivers would kill you.

# In an urban environment, a bike goes 2/3 as fast as a car. (12 mph net vs. 20 mph net). Given that bikes go door-to-door while cars require parking and walking, total time is often about the same.

Around here I would say that a bike is quicker up to 5km though short hops <0.5km are best walked.

Those who do not bicycle to work have 39% higher all-cause mortality than those who do, including the often-overestimated possibility of being hit by a car. (Google "Andersen bicycle mortality Denmark")

Probably varies a lot from place to place. Ironically I feel a lot safer bicycling in 'Crazy' Mexico than I did in the heavily regulated and policed UK. YMMV.

Electric bikes are a great option for those who have hills or don't want to pedal. An e-bike gets 1000 mpg in energy equivalent. It can be powered by a single solar panel, sustainable at reasonable cost.

I saw a bicycle the other day that had a small infernal combustion engine mounted in the frame and connected to the pedals. I wonder what the MPG is on that.


1)Eliminate use of heating oil and propane for residential and commercial space/water heating, using natural gas, heat pumps, and wood.
2)Switch freight locomotives to LNG-diesel 85:15 blend using existing loco engines (can be done in 2 years at low cost)
3)Add aerodynamic/efficiency retrofits to all road freight trucks/trailers (super-single wheels, nitrogen-filled tires, side skirts, advanced boat-tails)
4)Require energy efficiency labeling of aftermarket light vehicle tires, and/or feebate
5)Vehicle inspection/emissions requirements to include addition of real time mpg displays to vehicles 1996 VY or later
6)Divert freight onto rail via nationwide port fees for drayage, upgrade rail infrastructure to improve transit times and system capacity
7)Include minimum liability auto insurance coverage in price of gasoline
8)Electric or gas service to stationary diesel/LPG loads like pumps, generators, wind machines
9)Free, fast air at the pump
10)Revenue neutral sales tax on motor fuel in all local jurisdictions (add to sales tax base and reduce sales tax rates commensurately)
11)Lower exchange rate to increase cost of foreign oil (has other benefits for trade)
12)Index motor fuel tax to inflation and efficiency, with 10 year gradual reset to 1960's levels
13)Drop import tariff on ethanol
14)Create smartphone/GPS carpool infrastructure for dynamic carpooling
15)Earn taxicab and car rental vouchers (% of travel) by transit/carpool use
16)Variable speed limits on freeways (lower during congestion) to improve traffic flow, with PSA's to explain benefit, and speed cameras for enforcement
17)Signal synchronization and other traffic flow improvement for surface streets

Local Anti-Gas Drilling Activist Catches Execs Pushing PSYOP to Deal With "Insurgency"


Regarding monthly total liquids data (which are subject to revision and which are affected by inventory changes), some perspective: Five annaul "Gap" charts follow, showing the gaps between where we would have been at the 2002 to 2005 rates of increase, versus the actual data in 2010 (common vertical scale):

EIA Total Liquids (including biofuels):

BP Total Petroleum Liquids:

EIA Crude + Condensate:

Global Net Oil Exports (GNE, BP & Minor EIA data, Total Petroleum Liquids):

Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia’s net imports):

I would particularly note the difference between the first chart, total liquids, and the last chart, Available Net Exports (ANE).

CERA, et al tend to focus on the total liquids data while ignoring the GNE & ANE data. Since Yergin is now calling for less than a one percent per year rate of increase in total liquids productive "capacity," which is similar to what we saw from 2005 to 2010 in the EIA total liquids data (+0.5%year), it seems to me that Yergin is, almost certainly without realizing it, in effect predicting a continued decline in GNE & ANE:

Daniel Yergin Massively Reduced His Energy Estimates

OPEC crude oil, average for 20011 is still about 1.5 million barrels per day below their peak in 2008. Non-OPEC C+C has been virtually flat for 8 years.

Below are the yearly average Non-OPEC C+C production as per the EIA and JODI in thousands of barrels per day. Then I list the total percent change over 7 years and then the average per year percent change. The average yearly gain has been about 4 one hundredths of one percent. The 2011 figures are for the first 7 months for the EIA and first 8 months for JODI. Peak year for non-OPEC C+C, so far, was 2010. The average for 2011 will likely finish the year about 200 K barrels per day below 2010.

	2004	2011	 7 yr % Chg.  Avg Yearly Chg.
EIA	42,157	42,246	   0.21%	    0.03%
JODI	40,609	40,739	   0.32%	    0.05%

The big gains have been in natural gas liquids. The term "all liquids" disguises the totally stagnate production of crude oil. And as far the rapidly falling "net oil exports", well nobody in the media ever talks about that.

Ron P.


Had a chat with a contractor the other day re:Halliburton evaluating (maybe actually buying the company) a method of frac'ng that doesn't use water but a combination of propane, foam, and other materials which aren't produced back to the surface. Details were sketchy but the basic idea was that if you want to eliminate the problem with frac fluid disposal then the easiest approach would be to not generate them in the first place.

More details when they float to the surface.

This technique has been used in a well very close to Quebec city. However, I have been told this is awfully expansive.

Isn't that the idea? To be awfully "expansive".... :)

Rock, sounds like an expensive [unless it is more effective at promoting facturing] "solution" to a problem that for the most part does not exist. Still, thanks for the information, something good may.

Y/RW - Certainly won't be cheap. We've been using various types of "foam fracs" for a while. But what folks have to remember is that the industry will bear the price. The balance is the net effect: more costly frac methods and more regulatory fees/taxes might reduce the number of wells drilled. But so be it. If the net effect is that it completely kills those plays then folks can chose to back off or let the plays die. If it still makes economic sense for the oil patch to keep drilling they'll do it. As I've said before the public oil have no choice: they either drill/replace reserves or their stocks go down the toilet. Even if the profit margin gets skinny they'll still drill in order to keep their stocks afloat.

And you do understand I wouldn't have said any of that if I worked for a public oil drilling resource plays, right? LOL. It's actually to my company's benefit to have those companies stay in those plays: we don't want any more competition in our conventional plays.

Would the saving in not having the recovery and disposal of frac fluids be sufficient to offset the increased cost?


NAOM - I would have to guess that getting rid of the very expensive disposal costs is an important component of any new technique. I mentioned the other day a company is marketing a system that recycles 80%+ of the frac fluid. Don't know the cost but I'm sure it's very expensive and probably depends on saving on disposal to make it fly.

i think the company is gasfrac - GSFVF.
the have some info on their website on the process - they pump in liquid / gelled propane/butane which then regassefies and comes out with the NG.


Peak - May well be. My contact said the Halliburton prez mentioned they may acquire a Canadian company. Checked the web site you found and yep...they're Canadian.

Ran across another option instead of hydrofracking

Government gets into shale gas research with a bang

Julio Friedmann, carbon management program leader at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said the lab is studying the effectiveness of explosive detonations in creating fractures in oil- and gas-bearing formations as an alternative to hydraulic fracturing, the well-completion technique most commonly employed to free these energy resources from solid rock.

The biggest advantage is that, unlike with conventional hydraulic fracturing, it does not require the underground injection of millions of gallons of water and chemical additives. However a large disadvantage to the use of explosives comes from the energy industry itself, Friedmann said.

"People don't want to use them," because they fear the explosions would damage the integrity of the well bore, he said.

For this reason, the technology might be most useful for recompleting an existing well, rather in a newly drilled well. In addition, researches are testing "fit for purpose" charges that direct the force of the explosion outward, away from the wellbore itself, Friedmann said.

Hmm, If I remember correctly, nitroglycerin was used in the original fracing process. I guess what is old is now new.

S - I think we chatted about this before. Don't want to be cruel but the obviously the boys at LLNL don't depend on producing oil/NG for their paycheck. Frac'ng any formation you drill through is very easy. In fact, so easy it's not uncommon for an operator to do it accidentally. I'm watching a well right now where the operator just lost $3 million after accidentally frac'ng it with too high a drilling mud weight and stuck/left 5,000' of drill pipe in the hole. The essence of drilling any well is the balance between keeping the mud weight high enough to prevent a blow out but low enough to prevent frac'ng the rock. For every well I've seen damaged by too low a mud weight I've seen 10 damaged/frac'd by too high a mud weight.

As far as using explosives down hole no one in the industry is afraid of doing it. We do it daily to varying degrees. Everytime I go to a well to log it I have various amounts of explosives there. Usually shaped charges to blow hole in the rock to cut out samples. I recently describe using a "gas gun" or "stim gun". The explosive used is the propellant used in those Stinger surface to air missiles. We'll shoot it inside the casing in order to fracture the nearby rocks. Does a fine job of frc'ng the rocks around the well bore...and only costs around $10,000 compared to a $2 million frac job.

Those millions of gallons of water used aren't to cause the fractures. I can do that all day long with a few hundred bbls of water. The huge volume of water is used in order to transport the huge volume of proppant (usually sand grains) back into the fractures. Like I said I can easy pop a big fracture in a shale. Unfortunately as soon as I stop my pumps the fracture closes back up. That's why the proppant is pumped in: to keep the fractures "prop'd" open. That's why the chemistry of the frac fluids are so complex (and nasty): it has to be formulated to hold the sand in suspension as we try to pump it far back into the induced fracture. I can easily and cheaply pulverize the shale immediately around the well bore. But that's not going to help flow gas in the rock a thousand feet away. Nor will a 1,500' long fractures that clsoes back up as soon as I stop pumping.

Maybe I should have explained it early: fracturing the rock isn't what gets the oil/NG out of the shales. It's inducing fractures and keeping them from closing that allows the reserves to be recovered. When a well cuts an open natural fracture it can flow but soon as that production starts to lower the formation pressure the fracture will start to close so it's advantageous to frac them as well. How much pressure do those closing fractures create? Enough to pulverize the sand from the frac job into powder. That's why on very high pressure frac job they'll use ceramic beads that are much stronger than sand. We're talikng about pressures on the order of 10,000 to 15,000 psi.

Again, I'm sorry if I sound harsh but those boys don't even have the basic understanding of frac'ng the oil patch knew 40 years ago. From the link: "The technology I think is promising, but immature... There's simply a lot more that we're like to understand about these technologies before we'd even try to bring them to the public." This technology was well understood by us in the 1950's.

Halliburton gives free schools of the basics. They might want to sign up for one soon.

""People don't want to use them," because they fear the explosions would damage the integrity of the well bore, he said."

But of course the integrity of the planet is of little consequence when it comes to making money!


Regarding the article on pay systems for renewed rail and high speed rail.

specifically: "So where does the money come from?
I would be much more aggressive placing tolls on roads and bridges, which would create a revenue stream that can be leveraged. There are hundreds of billions that could be raised from pension funds, trust funds, even foreign investors."

Isn't this leveraging the main reason why the world economic system has one foot in the grave while playing Russian Roulette? So, we leverage pension fund assets which in turn are leveraged debt based assets of dubious value? We put tolls on roads and bridges which are often already tolled and/or in need of their own renewal stream?

With respect to Alan's work and ideas on rail transport vrs. the automobile, a decent rail system is key for life after peak, however, the push for high speed is still that chase of the newest and greatest that we cannot afford.

Time to slow down. With modern communications, face to face is an electronic reality, and as for "I just have to be in Baltimore right away", or SF/LA, I can only ask...."do you really need to be there in one or two hours"?

Many are living lives that mimic excited molecules, ("right away, have to, must, need to be there"). Perhaps the constraints of PO and declining travel expectations is a chance to slow down and smell the flowers; maybe even plant some.

We need dependable and affordable freight lines/hubs. And we need a pardigm shift from this fat spoiled life of having to have, just because we want it.

It so many ways, it is simply unaffordable.


We have a perfectly viable rail line from Courtenay all the way to Victoria on E Coast Van Isl. Citizen/volunteer groups with help from local biz have been refurbishing our rail station in Nanaimo, which fell victim to arson some years back. There is strong demand for reliable commuter service to Victoria, as people get tired of driving the winding and hazardous Malahat section of the coast highway.

But... the rail line belongs to a rail company which got ownership of a huge chunk of the island back in the heyday of resource extraction. In exchange for that huge chunk of valuable real estate it promised to maintain the line "in perpetuity". Well guess what, the Nth generation of management doesn't feel like making good on that contractual obligation, so they have let the rail line deteriorate to below "passenger standard". The only passenger train for years has been a tourist attraction in the wrong direction: N from Victoria in the morning and S to Victoria in the evening, taking tourists to see the scenic coast rather than taking workers and shoppers to the city. The train has to be run very slowly because of the substandard tracks.

The refurbed station is almost complete. Many volunteers and donors have put a lot into it. And we just saw the rail cars rolled onto freight barges and taken away. The whole passenger service is being shut down because "we can't afford to maintain the tracks or buy new rolling stock." Meanwhile, the city of Nanaimo has invested millions -- many millions -- in a new conference centre (mostly empty) and a cruise ship dock, and is proposing to spend 10s of $mio more on expanding the airport to accept international flights, building a new hotel/casino complex on the cruise ship dock, etc.

The younger set have a useful expression for times like these: "Epic facepalm."

RA - surely the fate if the rail line is not a great surprise? Given that it was always a real possibility,m what was the point of renovating the train station, unless it is to be used for some other purpose?

I do agree with your sentiments regarding the rail line - it could be a great asset.

And it still could be. All that is needed is for that railway co to give it back to the gov, or the island RR trust, and then to buy a couple of these style trains;

and a bigger version;

They are not that fast, (top speed 65km/h, but could be engineered for faster) but then neither was the old Budd. However, they are very cheap (<$1m each) and cost almost nothing to run. Most importantly, they are lightweight (by train standards) and can run on lines and bridges that can no longer handle freight or "normal" passenger loads.

details here;

The spending by Nanaimo on facilities continues to amaze me - they are gambling with the taxpayers money - in a declining world economy, where do they think all these people are going to come from?

at this point in time faster may not be better

That is true, but 65km/h is kinda slow when you are on an inter-urban train, which is what this line really is.

This particular train was developed for short stop interval routes, and uses a flywheel energy storage system that allows it, in combination with its light weight, to get up speed and brake faster than normal trains, giving faster overall cycle times.

A long route like the island route (111km Vic to Nanaimo, and another 107km to Courtenay) is not quite what is is intended for, but being lightweight, cheap and self powered, it is a good solution. The road travel speed according to Google maps) is an average of 65km/h, but if that is fast as the train goes, and add in the stops, and your average will be about 50. That is great for leisurely tourists but too slows for commuters.

The main thing is to have a service at the southern - Victoria - end. This type of train could provide a very useful commuter service for say 20km out of Victoria, and could cycle fast enough to do one round trip per hour. It would be faster commuting than by car for those along the route.

re: Keystone Pipeline May Not ‘Survive’ U.S. Delay, Flaherty Says

...accelerate Canada’s efforts to ship crude to Asia, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.

So, what does that really mean?

The Canadian government has some big hammers in its constitutional toolkit, and if it really wants to, it can bring out the Big Hammer it used to built the transcontinental railroads. It can declare the pipelines to the West Coast a "Work for the general Advantage of Canada". Then any objectors get subjected to the "nail that sticks up gets hammered down" treatment.

It hasn't been used for 50 years (the last time was to take control of the nuclear industry), but you never know.

I don't know if they will. I do know the federal bureaucrats are furiously rewriting the pipeline approval regulations under a cloak of deep secrecy.

As a Canadian, I would like to see our oil/bitumen pushed to a Canadian coast. Then, if US suppliers want to buy, product could go to any US refinery. If they don't, then let it go elsewhere.

Perhaps actually refining here and shipping finished product makes the best sense.

The Nebraskan farmers can run their machines on ethanol, produced locally utilizing Dakotan NG fertilizers. It must be what they want?

You could probably even convert an old steam donkey to run on Wyoming coal, and use it to pump dry the declining Oglala aquifer.

I am really impressed just how environmentally minded those dry-land farmers are! I never knew. Good thing they are looking out for the rest of the continent.

Option 1: exporting Canadian crude to the US to employ US refinery workers.

Option 2: exporting Canadian Crude to Asia to employ asian refinery workers.

There seems to be some concern about Option 1's risk of a leak to the Oglala aquifer. Now the pressure will be on to build the Option 2 pipeline to the West coast. A thousand kilometres through some of the worlds ruggedest terrain, heaviest rain and snowfall. I suspect it would be almost as difficult as the Alaska Pipeline.

Of course we could build a pipeline on a slightly safer route to Ontario to supply the Canadian market and employ Canadian workers.

I think the Canadians should just keep taking a $20/bbl haircut on the price they sale their crude for. We all know how many aquifers have been just ruined by pipelines crossing over the plains above them in the past;)

But would that be from the older pipelines and would running new pipelines improve this?


I was just being sarcastic. I do not believe there is any real risk to the Ogallala aquifer. Although, if Obama can get the Canadians to subsidize my part of the US with discounted oil for another year or two then I suppose that's fine with me.

I don't believe there's any significant risk to the underground Ogallala, either. What I am puzzled about is Transcanada's insistence on routing the pipeline through a portion of the Sandhills, currently the largest wetlands ecosystem in the US, and unique in several ways. Would the change in route really have made the project unprofitable? Or at least, any more than a multi-year delay while they fight a fight they're likely to lose anyway?

I'm not sure about the routing of the northern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, either - other than the fact that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. The key section is the one between the trading hub at Cushing OK and the Gulf Coast.

Rival pipeline company Enbridge is putting together a proposal for a pipeline that will take Canadian oil to the Gulf Coast using existing rights of way. They must be extremely happy about the delay on TransCanada's pipeline.

Enbridge proposes Gulf Coast pipeline

CALGARY - The proponents of two oil pipelines designed to siphon a glut of crude at Cushing, Okla., to refineries on the Texas coast are joining forces in a new project dubbed Wrangler expected to cost between $1 billion and $2 billion.

Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. and Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners L.P. jointly proposed Thursday an 800,000-barrel-per-day 36-inch (91-centimetre) line to follow existing rights of way

There's also the rail option. I might find out more about that this weekend. Alcohol may be involved because it's always good to ply information sources with liquor.

I saw a recent article about using railroads to ship crude out of Alberta. I think this was the article:

Oil aboard! Railroads shipping more Alberta crude

The article also mentions shipping oil from the Bakken as well. HERE's another current news story about the first shipment from a new terminal...

E. Swanson

But in the long run...we might be better off starting the transition to the post-carbon age now. You know...before we have to. Yes, there will be pain in the form of high prices and job losses in some fields, but they're coming anyway. Will it be easier to deal with in the future? I'm guessing no, though probably TPTB and Joe Public disagree.

The pipe could go to a new terminal built on the Beaufort Sea.

what would be the point of that?

It would be an almost as long pipeline, to get to a place where you need to build a port, that can only operate for a few months per year.

Beafort Sea coast is now ice-free most of year. In a decade, it will likely be ice-free year-round. It's a much shorter sea route to Japan and China, presumably the most interested importers. The geography isn't nearly as challenging. And I expect there will be lots of oil drilling and production in that offshore zone that will need some place to go--not that I want it, but that's the reality.

People seem to have a weak grasp of geography. Northern Alberta is a long, long way from the Beaufort Sea, and there is no real point in pipelining oil north when the real objective is to move it to markets in the south.

And speaking of drilling, I have worked for a company that spent billions drilling in the Beaufort Sea. All the likely prospects on the Canadian side have been drilled. I can say that it's not really great from the prospect of finding oil in the region. There's lots of natural gas up there, but there's also lot's of gas in cheaper locations.

You are just hoping that climate change will improve the weather in Canada. The farmers in the Nebraska sand hills are looking at dune fields in their future. Snark that.

More political commentary on the decision to delay a decision on the Keystone pipeline:

Ex-ambassador calls U.S. pipeline delay 'catastrophic'

The U.S. decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is a "catastrophic" cop-out by the Obama administration, former U.S. ambassador to Canada David Wilkins said Friday.

Wilkins, who lobbied for the project on behalf of the Canadian oil industry, told CBC's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon that the delay was politics at its worst.

“This route has been studied and studied and studied," he said. "It’s the longest permitting process in the history of the world, I think. It sends a bad message that we’re not open for business.”

Wilkins was ambassador to Canada during the Republican administration of former president George W. Bush.

I think the "not open for business" image is probably the worst aspect of it, because China is very clearly open for business - if you're selling something they're willing to buy.

Here is more fallout from the Obama government's decision to delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the next election:

Keystone decision a setback for U.S.-Canada relations

The Obama administration’s move to sideline the Keystone XL pipeline is a major setback for relations between the world’s two largest trading partners, and threatens Canada’s role as the leading energy supplier to the United States.

The U.S. State Department’s decision to force TransCanada Corp. to explore alternative pipeline routes in Nebraska pushes out a final ruling until at least 2013, well after next year’s U.S. presidential and congressional elections.

The United States is becoming a “less attractive customer in general for Canada, for not just energy but everything because of their own economic and financial difficulties,” said Gwyn Morgan, the former chief executive officer of Canadian gas giant Encana Corp.

“This is just another signal that Canada is going to have to diversify away from the United States, not just in energy but in everything else we can.”

Encana is trying to put together a system to deliver LNG from shale gas in Northeastern BC to markets in Asia. They have a lot of gas and no markets for it.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had characterized Washington’s approval of the project as a “no-brainer” that would create thousands of construction jobs in both countries and meet U.S. needs for a reliable supply of crude in an unstable world. Now Canada is scrambling for a plan B for its oil.

“Canada will be looking for a buyer and so obviously the Keystone project is one that is proposed and one that we would like to see go forth, but obviously we’re a resource-based, energy-based country and we’ll be looking at all opportunities,” said Sarah McIntyre, a spokeswoman for Mr. Harper.

The Canadian government was completely taken by surprise by the US decision, but will probably be pursuing other options (i.e. China) for its oil. This is costing Canadians a lot of money, so expect them to be aggressive about it. They will probably also be less nice to the Obama government in future.

It seems a little uncharitable that you guys don't want to keep providing a billion dollar plus per month subsidy to US Mid-continent refiners. Think of how many luxury houses and executive jets that US refinery executives are going to buy this year. How could you be so cruel as to deprive them of their housing and transportation needs?



Just in case folks think the Nebraska landowners along the proposed Keystone pipeline route are siding with the environmentalists: " Evidently, a majority of the 470 or so landowners along the route are negotiating with TransCanada independently. The organizer of Landowners for Fairness, lawyer Stan Dobrovolny, has told activists that while he is opposed to the pipeline, he has worked since late last year to negotiate the most palatable and lucrative deal possible for Nebraskans."

Interesting: a lawyer how opposes the P/L is making a living negotiating for it to be built. As the old joke goes: "we've already established what you are (a whore)...we're just negotiating the price.

I don't oppose the P/L but then again I don't live in Nebraska. OTOH if the Canadian oil makes it to the Gulf Coast I'll get less money for my production down here. Sounds like I should be cheering on the environmentalists and condemning those landowners and the pipeline folks. Makes one wonder where my head is at. OTOH, remembering that it's Veterans Day might make it easier to understand.

The P/L won't change PO. But it might help us make better choices in the time we have left before we have no choices left. Or choices no sane person would take.

I'm pretty skeptical that Keystone XL was the right issue for the U.S. general public to suddenly develop principles on, as if three Mideast wars in 20 years wasn't enough.

That said, the madness had to stop sometime. This pipeline issue appeals to both liberal environmentalists with a bogeyman amenable to public pressure and conservative ranchers and farmers who simply want to be left alone with their federal subsidies.

59 - Very valid points IMHO. BTW: who do you think those ranchers/farmers will be blaming in 15 years when they start dealing with rationing/shortages that hurt their livelyhoods as they watch that Canadian oil pipelined of the Pacific coast and shipped to China? They'll probably demand that we export some more democracy to the ME. Or mabe even Canada. LOL.

It's amazing that some environmentalist think that stopping Keystone will keep that Canadian oil in the ground. As you imply they have a bit of trouble seeing the blood we've already swapped for oil so they aren't able to see the future ahead as supplies get even tighter. If they don't like the environmental/human toll for current resource production, just wait. These will likely be the good ole days IMHO.

There was a Canadian Major @ ASPO. There was some friendly jibs about invading Canada which he countered well.

I pointed out that the USA would *NEVER* "invade Canada", but we might just "Liberate Alberta" from the tyranny of Ottawa.



Not to forget, "Liberation" should also include BC. After all, the US already owns the coast to the north and south. As climate change kicks in and the climate of San Francisco becomes like that presently found in LA and the water stops flowing south, the refugees will want to move to the north and will need somewhere to go as the inland Great Basin also moves northward...

E. Swanson

Americans keep trotting out this idea of invading Canada to get its natural resources. Next year (2012) we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the last time this was tried.

For some reason in 1812 Americans assumed Canadians wouldn't shoot them when they crossed the border. It turned out that not only would they shoot them, but they were rather good at it. Significantly more Americans were killed in the war than Canadians.

And then there was other unpleasantness such as the capture of Detroit, the occupation of Maine, and the burning of Washington, which the US really did not anticipate. At the end of it all, both sides declared victory and retreated to their original positions, which is probably the most rational approach to war short of avoiding it completely.

Works both ways. There are any number of US states who are eager to liberate themselves from the tyranny of Washington.

Let's see. Canada gets Maine and Alaska. Tough negotiations ahead. Give back Sarah Palin. Keep Stephen King.

Hawaii would be interesting as a Canadian province, one I doubt that you would want to give back,


Then the Obama birthers would really have something to crow about.

On a similar note to Hawaii, the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean have expressed interest in becoming a province of Canada, but the Canadian government has ignored them. I'm not sure why because most Canadians wouldn't mind having a warm place to go in the winter.

The problem may be that adding a new province would require a constitutional amendment and that would open up a basket of worms. OTOH, adding a new territory would only require federal legislation, and Nova Scotia has invited them to join as part of that province.

See Turks and Caicos Islands - proposed union with Canada for details.

From your link:

On March 2, 2009, the Ottawa Citizen ran an article on its online site reporting the interest of the Canadian government to open a deep-water port in the Caribbean that would open up "a new market for Canadian goods ... in the Caribbean and nearby Central and South America". "Suppose the port, unaffordable for Caribbean countries, boosted their standard of living and bolstered hemispheric security. Suppose the port doubled as a Canadian military operations base for countries wanting help to patrol their waters and to interdict the Caribbean's robust trade in smuggled arms, drugs and people."

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, support for integration into Canada as an "11th province" was at 90% in the 1990s, while in 2003 support for integration stood at around 60%. Goldring, a Conservative MP from Edmonton, has championed the cause of integrating the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Canadian territory for security benefits as well as increasing Canada's influence in Central and Southern America in regards to anti-terrorism, trade and combating encroaching Chinese influence in several small Caribbean islands, such as St. Lucia.

It seems to me that if Canada ever got its act together, it could play a much more formidable role on the international stage. As America is less open for business these days (and as you noted above and elsewhere China is being highly assertive in this field), the third option (c/o Trudeau's foreign policy review calling for Canada to diversified trade from its overwhelming preponderance and reliance on the American market) is increasingly becoming a feature of Canadian foreign policy. The Turks and Caicos would fit quite nicely into the scheme.

Yes, we Nova Scotians have been warming the coddles of our hearts as far back as I can remember with the dream of incorporating this Caribbean paradise into our fold. As an interesting side note, just prior to Newfoundland joining confederation in 1949, its administrative jurisdiction (as far as the British colonial office was concerned) included the island of Bermuda. I often wondered why in the push to have the country rounded out to fulfill its manifest destiny, "A Mari Usque Ad Mare" (from sea to sea), we just didn't slide a warm winter holiday destination into the deal.

You can have Maine.. I think we'd do fine together.. as long as everyone agrees to call the new, conjoined country 'Maine'.

Good one Bob! I love Maine. And I'm a Texan who has twice moved back to the Lone Star state. Helped build a house in Brunswick during the middle of winter several years back. Thinking of buying land there, but concerned about sea level rise as the property is on Mere Point. Winters there remind me of my time in Minneapolis - COLD! My partner and I would ultimately like to summer in ME and winter in TX - but that type of travel arrangement uses more fuel in a round trip than I do all year. And cross country rail or bus travel is dismal.

My neighbor and I recently drove to Maine and he biked back... or tried to. He's biked all over the world and the USA is the worst in his opinion. He called it quits in Charlotte, NC and took the bus home, which was a depressing experience. He'd never been to Maine and fell in love with it and the people. And he had good things to say about biking in your state.

Best hopes for more rail and biking.

Coastal Maine sounds nice. Probably really mild in winter. I'm in Wisconsin and winter here blows bananas. Lots of snow and temps that go below 0F a lot. Texas? Awesome place to live post peak. I recommend everyone move there.

Maine and Texas have a storied history with each other, since they have such 'complementary' personalities.. and both seem to have weather that will either make you or break you.

I do look forward to seeing the Lone Star State again.. but I think I'm in Maine for the long haul.. (Canada might try to eat us up again, but I feel certain that they'd spit us back out before long.. too sour!)

Yep, Bob, I think we could go with that. Maine is a crisper sounding name than the multi-syllabic Canada.

What do you call yourselves? Mainers? Mainians?

Mainiacs? I like it. Gives a sound of forceful energy. Don't mess with us!

I believe that Canada and Colombia are the only two net oil exporters in the Western Hemisphere to show increasing net oil exports from 2005 to 2010:

I find this very interesting in that the biggest net export gainer was Azerbaijan. The first post today, by Pollux, points out that Azerbaijan production will be down 13% next year.

And what about the second largest net export gainer, Sudan?
South Sudan's oil production slumps since independence

Oil production in one of South Sudan's states has fallen by a quarter since independence four months ago, a Unity state minister has told the BBC.

The two largest gainers in net exports are taking a nosedive in production. Looks like net crude oil exports will be down even further next year.

Ron P.

It's not the rate of change of exports that matters but the volumetric increase or decrease.

If Sudans's exports decrease by 50% that would be a loss of ~0.2 mbd.

If Russia's exports increase by the same volume that would be a rate of change of 3%.

Our vehicles doesn't consume rates of change, they consume gallons.

Best Hopes for units.


But Azerbaijan and Sudan combined accounted for about 800,000 bpd of the approximately three mbpd increase in net exports for the 12 countries with increasing net oil exports from 2005 to 2010, or about 27% of the gross increase. Russia represented about 10% of the gross increase, but their net exports have been flat or down since 2007.

The gross decline by the 21 decliners was about six mbpd, resulting in a net decline of about three mbpd.

Also, many of the countries in the declining group are showing accelerating rates of declines in net oil exports.

Not likely to be many farmers in Texas in 15 years if the present drought continues.

Both groups are going to be screaming when they can't get gas.

It's political.

Obama is throwing this bone out to his tree hugging base, in preparation for the 2012 election. If he wins, expect approval for Keystone to magically appear out of nowhere.

I went over to dailykos to gauge the reaction, it seems half of them are still suckers and half of them get it.

Keystone is baked into the cake, we have no choice.

Obama's track record on this is all too clear. Remember 2008, and, after winning, how quickly Obama maneuvered to save Wall Street and double down on military intervention in the Middle East. Obama may be an empty suit, but he's a fairly decent politician. Perhaps those two go hand in hand?

That's why we have the occupation.

"for a reliable supply of crude in an unstable world."

Well if the unstable refers to the politics that might be understandable, but if it refers to the state of climate change instability, more and more unstable.
Then it points to the short sightedness of the prime minister.

We do live in interesting times.


From National Geographic: Has the World Already Passed “Peak Oil”?

The year 2006 may be remembered for civil strife in Iraq, the nuclear weapon testing threat by North Korea, and the genocide in Darfur, but now it appears that another world event was occurring at the same time—without headlines, but with far-reaching consequence for all nations.

That’s the year that the world’s conventional oil production likely reached its peak, the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Vienna, Austria, said Tuesday.

In previous years, the IEA had predicted that crude oil production would continue to rise for at least another couple of decades.

... A major reason for the rising prices and flatlining production is that for "the currently producing fields of crude oil, the production will decline," Birol said.

Today's active oil fields produce about 70 million barrels per day, but by 2035, he said, "they will produce less than 20 million barrels per day of oil."

also http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/energy/great-energ...

JODI says not just conventional oil peaked in 2006 but total Crude + Condensate peaked in 2006. Average 2011 production for 2011, first 8 months, is about 1.7 million barrels per day below the peak of 2006 though production will likely increase slightly the last four months of this year.

Crude oil, the stuff you make gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from, has peaked. Throwing bottled gas, propane and butane, into the mix and the EIA, the IEA and BP can say we may reach a new peak in October. Actually we are nowhere near the 2006 peak of Crude + Condensate. Talking about a "new peak in liquids" is misleading.

Ron P.

"Talking about a "new peak in liquids" is misleading."

Like little Stewie does above?

Little Stewie Staniford: Global Liquids Production reaching New Heights in October

Still not peak oil (or at least not peak liquid fuels)....

I bet Stewie loves this chart.

I bet Stewie would make an outstanding Used Car Salesmen, or Credit Default Swapper, or Mortgage Bundling Bungler Broker...

To the contrary, I think Staniford is just trying to report and understand the data, without letting preconceptions affect the information. And I think personal attacks because you disagree with the data he reports are way out of line.

Staniford's charts show the bumpy plateau for the last few years, and he says as much in his blog. In the context of global population increasing by many millions each year, what does a 1% increase in total liquids really mean? Clearly per-capita total liquids are decreasing.

Tommy, your first sentence describes what a SCIENTIST does.

Scientist says, "Still not peak liquid fuels."

Used Car Salesmen says, "Still not peak oil (or at least not peak liquid fuels)"... and then runs quickly into his sales pitch.

Stewart is "letting (his )preconceptions" infuence him despite the data.

He has a PhD. He knows better (or should). He would never pull such crap in a scientific presentation (not even an informal lab meeting - they would tear him to shreds).

You ask "In the context of global population increasing by many millions each year, what does a 1% increase in total liquids really mean?

Good point, go ask Stewart.

Stewart should join Danny Yergin at CERA - what a great pair they'd make - "SPIN, SPIN, SPIN."

Staniford is a trendologist specializing in heuristics. It might be that he has some old predictions that he is trying to spin in a positive fashion. Otherwise I have no idea why he thinks it is OK to continue with the apples and oranges composite of all liquids.

That's the problem with heuristics, as they are not scientifically based and so they can't be adapted. If I get some new info, I look at the physical parameters that control the model and then learn something new and adapt. You can't do that with heuristics. I gave Staniford a hard time with that approach when he first started posting here.

He is considered an Emeritus with all his highlighted archived TOD posts. I have no idea why.

No need to be so disrespectful. Stuart was one of the original TOD staffers. He helped make this site what it is, and is just following the data where it leads him. He was the one who wrote about "the nosedive into the desert." He's changed his mind because reality did not match his predictions.

I agree Leanan. I would not call Stuart Stuart "Stewie" nor would I call Nancy Pelosi "Princess Nancy". ;-) However I think Stuart was a little too quick to change his mind. I think Saudi will nosedive, just not as soon as Stuart expected it to.

Also I think Stuart should stress the fact that bottled gas is not crude oil. We all know that it will be years before natural gas peaks therefore counting natural gas products as oil simply misleading. I think he should write articles stressing this fact rather than join forces with the EIA and IEA in implying that the peak is years away simply because peak gas is years away.

About six years ago we peak oil folks expected oil production to start to drop. Peak oil deniers expected oil production to continue onward and upward. It did neither, we were bot wrong. We are now both still waiting for one or the other to happen. The deniers have not won the argument simply because natural gas products have not yet peaked.

But of course we have already won most of the argument. Oil available to importing nations has been dropping quite precipitously for about five years now. Why this simple fact is not in the headlines is a mystery to me.

Ron P.

Sam's projections for Saudi production, consumption and net exports (total petroleum liquids), based on data through 2006. Subsequent annual data through 2010 are circled:

There have of course been reports of increased Saudi production this summer, but two points: (1) It's hard to differentiate monthly production changes from change in inventories and (2) According to Charles Mackay's work, very little of the increased production made it into the export market.

In any case, if we extrapolate Saudi Arabia's 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in the ratio of consumption to production, they would approach zero net oil exports in 14 years.

Thanks for the updated graphs WT.

" if we extrapolate Saudi Arabia's 2005 to 2010 rate of increase in the ratio of consumption to production, they would approach zero net oil exports in 14 years."

I wonder if "above agar factors" will cooperate for the next 14 years.

Time now to go change the composition of the liquids in my drink (it is after 5pm, on a Friday night, "all liquids" my arse).

Leanan, Stewart is being disrespectful of our intelligence with that opening sentence.

I don't think he is "just following where the data leads him" - he is just following where the "all liquids data" leads him. Fine, let him hang his hat on the all-liquid vapors.

Like a good scientist, he will change his mind again when reality does not match his mental model - again.

I don't think he is "just following where the data leads him" - he is just following where the "all liquids data" leads him.

And that's worth juvenile insults? If you disagree with that metric, fine, say so, and say why, but there's absolutely no reason to insult those who use it.

Okay, I apologize. The "little stewie" stuff was unnecessary and distracting.

But to clarify, the juvenile nature of my insult was NOT due to his use of all liquids.

The juvenile insult was a result of my frustration with: 1) the deliberate misrepresentation in his first sentence, and 2) the deliberate misrepresentation by some one of Stewart's stature (at least in our PO community).

Still, I agree, there is no need for me to act like a member of the British parliament.

Just to jump in here - I'd love to see Stuart turn his considerable data analysis skills to the task of charting net available energy from that 'total liquids' graph, and then go the extra step of 'net per capita'. As we all know, biofuels and NGL's have lower energy density than crude, so reporting them per volume skews the perception, to say the least. Then add in the issue of EROEI, and biofuels in particular nearly disappear as a net addition. Just those two factors turn the 'undulating plateau' into a gently declining slope. Toss in population growth, and per capita net liquid energy is in notable decline.

What do you say, Stuart?

Post the comment over at his blog. He doesn't read the Drumbeat very often.

Hi, Ron

Do you have a link/source for the JODI observations on peaking (I can't find one).

- rick

Rick, JODI does not editorialize they just post the data. I take the data and then massage it with Excel. The JODI database is particularly difficult because if they do not get an input from producing nations in any particular month they just put in a zero for that month. And several about five nations they do not post anything.

For the zero months I simply average the before and after zero months and add that figure in. And for the five non reporting nations I simply use the EIA data. I would post the graph for the JODI database showing 2006 as the peak year but I am several hundred miles from my computer and database this week. I am using my sons laptop to post this.

Anyway JODI updates their database next Saturday and when they do I will post a new graph showing the latest figures. But here is their link to their database:

JODI Database

From the database, if you click on the little folder under "Table", third icon from the left, you can download the the database into Excel.

Ron P.

That's fine, Ron

I did not recall JODI offering any opinion/determination re PO, and was wondering if I had missed something.
I'll wait for your next presentation of the JODI data.
I enjoy your posts.


Why did you decide to post this year-old article in today's drumbeat?

Just curious.

Just seein' if you were payin' attention

Could do worse ...

S&P: Year-old web change caused France rating error

Embarrassed ratings agency Standard & Poor's said Friday that its erroneous downgrade of France arose when an automatic email was sent out after an old web page on French banks was changed.

"Standard & Poor's has determined that yesterday's erroneous message regarding a downgrade resulted from a technical error wholly unrelated to the sovereign rating on France," the company said in a statement.

That triggered emails to subscribers notifying them of a downgrade of France, which has a top-flight AAA rating, sparking short-lived havoc in the markets before S&P sent out a correction.

No lives were lost

5 years after it happened, they just can't generate quite the same scare factor out of it as they used to, can they? I wish Birol would get someone with experience in oil fields to be his front man though, the "all decline, all the time" point is getting a bit old.

20 million barrels in 2035? Ouch... I'll be in my prime at that point (mid 50's). So much for a college babe and a Corvette. It will be more like a Schwinn and couple of hogs (the ones you eat).

Atmospheric rivers caused the UK's worst floods

In November 2009, ... the county of Cumbria received record rainfall that caused floods. This coincided with an extra-tropical cyclone which funnelled an atmospheric river (AR) towards the UK (see map). Together with the Cumbrian mountains, the cyclone forced the AR to rise, cooling its moist load and forming rain (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2011GL049783). Unusually, the river dumped rain for several days, triggering the floods.

A study of similar systems in California suggests that such floods could become more frequent and severe if greenhouse gas emissions accelerate.

Overseas Investments By Chinese National Oil Companies: Assessing The Drivers And Impacts IEA-2011

… almost all the equity production Chinese National Oil companies (NOCs) have in the Americas is sold locally instead of being shipped back to China (FACTS Global Energy, 2010). Considering geographical distances, it is more costly to ship that oil to China.

Additionally, Venezuelan heavy crude is not compatible with existing Chinese refining capacities. The latter barrier will soon be removed; PetroChina formed a joint venture with the Venezuelans to build a refinery to process this type of crude oil in Southern China. The planned capacity of this refinery is 200 kb/d. The current equity share NOCs have in Venezuela is 202 kb/d. Chinese crude imports from Venezuela ranged from 155 kb/d to 400 kb/d for the first seven months of 2010. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stated that he planned to export 1 mb/d to China by 2011 or 2012.

related http://iir.nccu.edu.tw/attachments/journal/add/4/99-147.PDF

S - "Considering geographical distances, it is more costly to ship that oil to China." Easily avoided: do a "paper swap". The Chinese company swaps 100,000 bbls of US production for 100,000 bbls of KSA production that would have been sold a US refinery. The US customer gets the domesticly produced oil and the ME oil is shiped to China. Some years ago the US govt did the exact same thing with Japan. Though it's illegal to export oil from US gov't leases, N. Slope oil was shipped to Japan who swapped it for oil that was shipped to the US from other countries. Saved the transport costs for both countries so a win/win.

Also let's not forget the obvious: if China sells $50 billion of oil/NG production in the US that gives them $50 billion to buy by ME oil. Think of it as a hedge of sorts: if oil jumps to $150/bbl China gets the higher price for its US production and thus helps to offset the higher prices it pays for its imported oil.

Exactly. Every barrel of oil produced domestically in the US is one less barrel of demand for imported oil. And anyone who thought about it recognizes that that was the plan all along. After all, a sufficiently large popular outcry and Congress cuts off petroleum exports altogether. If anything approaching the doomer scenarios happens, Congress is going to pass a bunch of "interesting" laws.

Are you sure? You really do have a problem with your irrational and economically illiterate congress. Cutting off exports and rationing fuel would both be quite destructive.

Those interested in the generational shift going on in commuter habits in urban centers might be interested in following seattlebikeblog.com. Yesterday they posted a Bike News Roundup that links to 30+ articles from around the US and around the world describing everything from new Nevada laws protecting cyclists to a bicycle powered compost pickup company.

The point is not that these are solutions for all of our problems. Rather, this is just more evidence that we are witnessing the development of an increasingly large and powerful "bicycle culture" in cities across North America. Bicycles aren't just for children any more.

Best Hopes for Bikes!


Rather, this is just more evidence that we are witnessing the development of an increasingly large and powerful "bicycle culture" in cities across North America. Bicycles aren't just for children any more.

And if anyone should have any doubts about that, this ad on the seattlebikeblog.com main page should set it to rest.

Though if I were the Satan look alike attorney, I'd at least lose the tie and wear a bike helmet in the ad >;^)

The legal profession never ceases to amaze me. And I thought viral pathogens were adaptable...

You tell me what the price of gas is, and I'll tell you what I think of high-speed rail. Unless we want to price gasoline like Europe, I don't think European-style high-speed passenger rail will ever be workable. Maybe we'll see it work in the Northeast corridor and California -- but to build out the top 30 cities on high-speed rail would cost $1 trillion.

Never mind that investing $1 trillion in high-speed rail (sounds like a rather paltry sum compared to the amounts in which governments, banks etc. are being bailed these days) would easily result in cost savings far exceeding the initial investment, and do so in relatively short order given the current price trajectory for oil. Unfortunately, this shortsighted attitude seems to be shared by most of our major decision-makers in the USA. We are just structurally unable to make necessary investments in infrastructure modernization because of built-in biases towards immediate short term profitability and status quo/sunk cost inertia. It's sad, really, but the attitude is pervasive in both the public and private sector today that it is simply not worth paying any up-front costs, even if potentially massive cost savings will accrue as a result (and other benefits too, though they are not allowed to enter the decision calculus, being not directly monetized and therefore valued at zero).

Europeans, meanwhile, pay more for gasoline, but in fact they seem to have acclimated better to the price spikes of the last few years than Americans, who are in the habit of complaining every time the price at the pump goes up by a few cents. On the other hand, keeping gas taxes low allows US consumers to externalize more of the costs of their consumption, but ultimately has little impact on the overall fuel price over the long run. The effects of the ELM supply crunch in coming years will easily overwhelm any price benefit to consumers of keeping fuel taxes low. And it's fine to point out that there are challenges in implementing HSR here in America compared to Europe due to geography, but that doesn't mean you can just sidestep the question of what will replace oil-dependent transportation for our more geographically-dispersed population. Failure to invest in HSR or other alternatives to mitigate the effects of peak oil doesn't make peak oil go away. If it is not viable, then opponents ought to propose something else that will work better. I guess it still just hasn't sunk in for a lot of folks that when we talk about our current energy path being "unsustainable" we really do mean just that, it cannot be sustained, and so it won't. Sustainability isn't a choice you make in order to be "green," contrary to popular myth.

Above all, though, it should be apparent to anyone paying attention that the costs cited here of $1 trillion in up-front investment is a pittance compared the economic devastation that will be visited upon the United States if no mitigating efforts are taken with regard to peak oil. Needless to say, this is our current path.

HSR will probably work in some locations in the US, but I think we could get a lot more bang for our buck (and a lot fewer bucks) in a much shorter timeframe by just improving and expanding the existing rail structure where short intercity networks already exist - the Capitol Corridor between the Bay Area and Sacramento, Surfliners in Southern California, and the Cascades route in Oregon and Washington are examples here on the West Coast. Improve these routes to 90 - 110 mph with no freight train interference and they become very competitive with driving.

WC, I agree, it is best to start with low-hanging fruit, in particular expanding/modernizing existing passenger rail networks connecting nearby major metroplexes, hopefully creating examples of successful HSR networks to build public acceptance of the concept and paving the way for further developments, creating the needed industrial base to eventually complete a nationwide buildout to the extent practical. We should absolutely apply resources where they will have the greatest impact, where rail can ease congestion along heavily-traveled highway and air routes and provide convenient, comfortable and cost-competitive travel options, which means starting with places like the California corridor you mentioned and improving/expanding the Acela corridor over in my neck of the woods.

But we do also need to be thinking about what kinds of alternatives might be suitable if HSR proves impractical for many places given the current layout of our population. If HSR won't work, then something else is needed because the status quo trajectory is demonstrably unsustainable. If there is nothing else that will work, then perhaps we need to just start selectively abandoning those areas whose transportation infrastructure is bound to become obsolete as available oil resources dwindle, as westexas has suggested numerous times.

Unfortunately, much of the time the discussion over HSR occurs in a vaccuum from the larger context of peak oil, leading observers to conclude that alternatives to current oil-based transport systems are a luxury to soothe our collective "green" conscience, a matter of choice, as opposed to a matter of basic economic survival. It's a classic outside context problem -- the current drive everywhere/cheap oil paradigm is so entrenched that it is difficult to imagine a way out of it. And where real mitigating efforts might have some effect, we don't always recognize them as such. And in the meantime we continue to pour (wasted) effort and resources into maintaining our current infrastructure, including all its attendant ecosystem impacts, overseas military incursions to keep the supply lines forcibly open, etc. And then finally we wonder why we can't find the $trillion we need to replace the infrastructure with something that won't go obsolete in the near term. It might be somehow related to the $2 trillion we'll spend (not counting indirect costs, as for said military incursions, etc.) as a nation on oil next year, just a hunch.

Who were the 99% of ancient Rome?

"The Romans lived in one of the most stratified societies in history. Around 1.5% of the population controlled the government, military, economy and religion. Through the writings and possessions they left behind, these rich, upper-class men are also responsible for most of our information about Roman life.

The remaining people – commoners, slaves and others – are largely silent. They could not afford tombstones to record their names, and they were buried with little in the way of fancy pottery or jewellery. Their lives were documented by the elites, but they left few documents of their own."

It will be interesting to learn more about the average joe or jane in Roman times...

1.5%? that's pretty generous. i thought it was about 1 to .8%

Upper Midwest Diesel Supply Shortage Worsens

The diesel shortage - that ironically may be driven by the rapid development of shale oil and gas in the upper Midwest states - has not lessened even as the fall harvest season comes to an end.

The fall off in diesel supplies has been particularly acute in recent weeks, as US commercial oil and oil product inventories extend their nearly six month slide.

Diesel fuel shortage hits state

Diesel fuel is in such short supply in the upper Midwest that people in the fuel industry say it's the worst shortage they can remember.

"It's as bad as I've ever seen it," said Tom Garner, the energy division manager for Farmers Cooperative, who's been in the business 33 years.

Much of the "northern tier" demand that Heine refers to is coming from oil field operations in western North Dakota, where the boom in the Bakken oilfields has led to tremendous demand for diesel fuel to run heavy equipment.

Read more: http://journalstar.com/business/local/diesel-fuel-shortage-hits-state/ar...

November 11, 2011 8:00 AM
Officials report diesel supplies short in Nebraska

(AP) LINCOLN, Neb. — Gasoline and diesel shortages at fuel terminals in the Upper Midwest have forced fuel truck drivers to sit in line for hours, waiting for fuel to arrive via pipeline.

Other truck drivers have seen diesel prices rise, nearing $4 a gallon in Nebraska and passing that in the Dakotas.


HOUSTON, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Midwest cash distillate markets
gained strength on tight supplies on Friday as a combination of factors kept a collective squeeze on the market.

Strong buying interest hit limited prompt supply because of regional refinery maintenance, the tail-end of the autumn crop harvest and trucking fuel needs at the prolific Bakken shale oil operations in North Dakota, traders said.


See also: The Never-ending Story

Published Saturday November 12, 2011
'Bottom of the tank' for region's diesel

By Steve Jordon

A severe mismatch between diesel fuel supply and demand in Nebraska, western Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and the Dakotas may last several more weeks and eventually spill over to gasoline as well.

Some retailers have run out of diesel fuel for short periods, a shortage traced to peak demand during the fall harvest plus unusually high demand in the burgeoning oil fields of North Dakota, said Tim Keigher, executive director of the Nebraska Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association in Lincoln.


Seems as if China has found reserves corresponting to one Saudi. In other words, one of the four Saudi Arabia necessary to maintain the status quo level since 2006 is in place.
IEA says we require to find 4 Saudi to maintain todays volume, and 6 to maintain the growth.

Computer gamers solve problem in AIDS research that puzzled scientists for years

When scientists struggle with a problem for over a decade, few of them think, “I know! I’ll ask computer gamers to help.” That, however, is exactly what Firas Khatib from the University of Washington did. The result: he and his legion of gaming co-authors have cracked a longstanding problem in AIDS research that scientists have puzzled over for years. It took them three weeks.

Khatib’s recruits played Foldit, a programme that reframes fiendish scientific challenges as a competitive multiplayer computer game. It taps into the collective problem-solving skills of tens of thousands of people, most of whom have little or no background in science.

The people in this article used a very interesting approach to problem solving. I wonder if maybe something like this can be made to work for the peak oil (and various other resources) movement. Maybe some kind of simulation Game could be made where people start out with various resources and technology available to them and they have to use those tools to create a society that will last for as long as possible. The group that makes the most sustainable society wins. As I see it this could have two benefits. One maybe the solution they come up with might tell us something important about the problem, and two the game will help raise people's awareness about the problem. Getting people to learn about peek oil is difficult, but getting people to play games is a lot easier.

Getting people to learn about peek oil is difficult, but getting people to play games is a lot easier.

I've been reading the book "Bowling Alone" by Robert D. Putnam, which is about the decline in political and civic connection in America. His book doesn't mention video games specifically (it was published 10 years ago) but it does suggest that the more time one spends in front of a TV, the less socially engaged you are. My reading and personal experience with gamers suggest that the tendency is even greater with video games.

So... you might get them to play, but those who play are unlikely to be civically engaged.


It's possible that the infotainment complex is actually cushioning the blow from peak oil. Alot of people just sit in front of the tube or computer or twiddle their thumbs playing games, shifting energy use away from transportation and onto electricity.

I certainly think this is one reason why crime is staying low.

T'other day I was talking to a buddy about a longish boat trip my pod and I took (to Haida Gwaii). The buddy sighed, smiled, and said that, yeah, it was probably pretty cool -- but he saw a *great* documentary on Haida Gwaii on TV, and he rather liked being able to see all the great scenery without getting cold and wet or taking a couple of weeks just to get there... and while eating popcorn.

I had mixed reactions. One was that this was pretty sad, the substitution of passive TV-watching for actually going out and seeing/hearing/touching/smelling the real world. The other was "oh well, I guess if millions of people would rather stay home and watch a documentary than travel, that would reduce some demand for plane flights and all the rest of fossil-intensive tourism."

OTOH, the rise of the TV viewing lifestyle doesn't seem to have reduced the demand for air travel yet...

They have tried that. World Without Oil was designed by someone who believes that computer games can solve real-world problems. I believe she's since gone on to design other games that she hopes will make a difference in the real world.

What is going on at the Idaho National Laboratory? It took a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan before people started inhaling plutonium and "stuff" caught fire. What's the excuse in Idaho?

One burned in sodium fire at INL building

IDAHO FALLS -- Authorities say one employee has been burned in a sodium fire reported at a building at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The U.S. Department of Energy says 10 other workers were evaluated on scene Friday and released by medical staff.

A DOE spokeswoman could not immediately comment on the size of the fire, but suggested it may have been caused by a sodium reaction

Two Idaho lab workers inhale plutonium oxide from weapons-grade plutonium reactor

At least two Idaho National Laboratory workers inhaled plutonium oxide Tuesday at a nuclear reactor that has been closed down since 1992.

A third employee may have gotten an internal dose of the slightly radioactive material. Sixteen employees were exposed to the plutonium at the Zero Power Physics Reactor, INL officials said in a telephone press conference Wednesday. The employees were decommissioning the reactor that was fueled by weapons-grade plutonium -- plutonium pure enough to build bombs.

Officials provide additional information about employee exposure

In summary:
• 16 employees working in the area were potentially exposed and evaluated.
• 7 employees received external skin exposures and were decontaminated.
• 16 employees received lung scans and were offered precautionary treatment for internal exposure.
• 4 employees accepted treatment for internal exposure.
• 3 employees received follow-up lung scans based on initial scan results.
• 16 employees are receiving continued monitoring to determine individual doses.

Latest local tv report is that all workers are still under instruction to "shelter in place" at the plant and not go outside.

Low Levels of Iodine Detected in Europe

11 November 2011 | The IAEA has received information from the State Office for Nuclear Safety of the Czech Republic that very low levels of iodine-131 have been measured in the atmosphere over the Czech Republic in recent days.

The IAEA has learned about similar measurements in other locations across Europe.

The IAEA believes the current trace levels of iodine-131 that have been measured do not pose a public health risk and are not caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan.

Iodine-131 is a short-lived radioisotope that has a radioactive decay half-life of about eight days.

The IAEA is working with its counterparts to determine the cause and origin of the iodine-131.

The IAEA will provide further information via its Website as it becomes available.

Edit: Nuke Agency Reports Unusual Radiation In Europe

However, an official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said the release appeared to be continuing.

Reports: U.S. Military to Help Fight Nigerian Terrorists

The Pentagon’s shadow war in Africa could have a new front, if reports coming out of Nigeria are accurate. U.S. troops are headed to Nigeria to help local forces do battle with Boko Haram, an Islamic terror group that has killed up to 400 people this year in an escalating campaign of bombings and shootings. At least that’s what Nigerian military sources tell Scott Morgan, a journalist based in Washington, D.C. who writes under the pseudonym “Confused Eagle.” The Guardian also has the story.

related http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/nigerian-taliban-us-boko-har...

GM Volt Fire Prompts Probe of Lithium Batteries

U.S. auto-safety regulators are scrutinizing the safety of lithium-ion batteries that power all plug-in electric vehicles after a General Motors Co. (GM) Chevrolet Volt caught fire, people familiar with the probe said.

The Volt caught fire while parked at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing center in Wisconsin, three weeks after a side-impact crash test May 12, said an agency official. The official, as well as the three other people familiar with the inquiry, said they couldn’t be identified because the investigation isn’t public.

... If a lithium battery is pierced by steel, a chemical reaction will take place that starts raising the temperature and can result in a fire, he said. If the piercing is small, that reaction can take days or weeks to occur...

I wonder if the Li packs will have the option for changing out individual, damaged sections, or even cells that are failing earlier than others, in order to support pack-life without complete replacement?

There is a newer Lithium-based battery technology which is much less prone to this problem (overheating / fire after penetration damage). This technology is Lithium-Iron-Phosphate, LiFePO4. The company A123 Systems (Watertown, MA) is betting on this chemistry for their push into the EV market. I've seen some of the trials the batteries are put through to qualify them as safe under U.N. guidelines (see Batteryspace.com). They pound steel rods through these batteries and they don't burn or explode - quite impressive. Also A123 claim disposal and recycling of these batteries is much safer since nothing in the chemistry is particularly toxic.

I believe you get these batteries in DeWalt battery-powered tools and some other brands. I used them for a bicycle-light battery. They claim up to 2000 charge-discharge cycles if used conservatively.

- Dick Lawrence

This technology is Lithium-Iron-Phosphate, LiFePO4.

Nice combination of chemical elements there! :))

Hmmmm... they could throw in a lil Uranium and get something like LiFePO4U (I -know- this isn't a valid chemical formula, so please don't bash me for it, thanx! :P), which would then read: "Life Past Oil For You"! ^^

"Is he strong? Listen bud—
He's got radioactive blood."

Radiation in Japan: Spiders in Iitate-mura Concentrating Radioactive Silver 1,000 Times

So, the conclusion is that nephila clavatas have concentrated a minute amount of radioactive silver (Ag-110m), which is one of the radioactive fallout materials from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

My mental disconnect moment for the day:

Two article in the online New Scientist:

First: Discussion of how conservation groups are running triage checklists to determine which species are worth trying to save and which we do not have the resources to try to save.



An article implicitly advocating spending hundreds of millions, indeed many billions over the course of several missions, to drill/dig under the surface of Mars to find current or even fossilized microbial life.


But wait, one more for the mental disconnect Trifecta:

Folks pondering how to implement 'evolution' to improve humanoid robots...


We don't have enough resources to try to protect the life we have, but we have resources to send probes to other bodies in space to seek their life, and we have resources to attempt to create artificial computer/robotic 'life'.

Well, OK. And yet OTOH, I can sort-of see some point in running the second and third horses in that trifecta. After all, as Ernest Rutherford observed,

All science is either physics or stamp-collecting.

Possibly that's slightly unfair, but then again, biology (aside from mainly some of the molecular stuff) passed on into the stamp-collecting stage ages ago. Gee, some guy discovered a "new" "species" of animal. Of course it's just another self-filling stomach signifying nothing - get down to brass tacks, and it ingests, it excretes, seen one, seen 'em all. And another guy found a "new" "species" of microbe. Its flagellum averages 3.4 microns long instead of 3.2 as on the next "species" in the same pond in Outer Nowhere. Yawn. Oh, and yes, breathless news flash, the last of a failed "species" of whatever has wafted off to the Great Darwinian Garbage Dump In The Sky. Yawn again.

At least if they find something on Mars, it might conceivably have evolved independently - rather than being merely another stamp sporting yet another trivial perforation variation noticeable only to a Ph.D. specialist. Maybe something analogous might even hold for the "squishybots", except that for all one can tell from the bald assertions in New Scientist's content-free blurb (not article), they may as well be running on about pure magic.

Didn't know this quote, interesting, but then stamps are dead, also.

And then there is maths