This is a bit corny - but following Yankee, what can I say?

Down at the bottom of the earlier thread, is the comment that some of the gas stations on the East Coast are running out of gas.  It has also been noted by CNN, and so I will pinch some of their story to give the official word.

(This is the Conference season for Academics and though I have to go out of town for family reasons this weekend, I will also be gone in a couple of weeks for the Peak Oil and the Environment Conf in Washington - which seems to be shaping up to have a very powerful agenda. )

([editor's note, by Yankee] I'd also like to take this opportunity to remind you of the upcoming conference in New York City, Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma, April 27-29.)

Anyway enough of the excuses.  The main part of the story is both a partial explanation of the interesting curve I posted on gas storage, and the immediate shortage that is closing gas stations - in a word MTBE

The National Association of Convenience Stores, whose 2,200 member stores account for 75 percent of U.S. gasoline sales, also said members had reported shortages at terminals around Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia.

 The shortages are not because refiners are not making enough gasoline, or because of a recent rupture on the key Plantation Pipeline that carries supplies from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, industry officials said.

 Rather, the oil industry is rapidly eliminating a gasoline additive called MTBE, banned in several states for polluting ground water, and replacing it with ethanol, a renewable fuel that can't be shipped by pipeline because it absorbs water.

 "There's not a shortage of supply," said John Eichberger, a spokesman for the group. "It's a transitional issue."

The transition is a marker for the greater infusion of ethanol into gasoline, and in the immediate short-term this is going to be something that will give the general public a bit of a warm fuzzy, as well as making those farmer co-operatives that are getting into the business a rather short ROI (numbers I heard today from one of those "insider folks" were on the order of 13 months). Unfortunately down the road a couple of years it is still unlikely to make nearly as much difference as it is doing in Brazil.  

There are a couple of reasons for this, one being the overwhelming size of the problem in gas shortage that is heading into the world future. The other is that, as China transitions to an industrial economy it's ability to provide food is likely to decline. Thus the ability of the US to meet some of this need from it's agricultural abundance may significantly help our domestic relations (to blur a point). However, as other countries are already finding, ethanol and food are alternate products from the same land. (Although, and this also gets neglected in many discussions, the side product of ethanol production is a brewers grain that is a good feed for livestock).

In the short-term there is an ability to meet an increased demand in the US

It is only in the out years that we will see the conflict develop as we also find that you can't have it both ways, despite:

high crude oil prices have made ethanol prices competitive as a replacement for gasoline. Other factors that have changed recently include improved ethanol processing yields (2.50 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn in 1980, compared with 2.85 gallons per bushel today), strong increases in corn productivity with little or no increase in fertilizer use, and greater use of specific corn varieties that are tailored to ethanol use. The pipeline for technology and information is fuller today than ever, assuring that the industry will be even more efficient and competitive in the future.
 Hopefully the Conference will have some more optimistic news than this!
More groans...
Peak Tires. Peak Corn. Some days you just can't win.
I think this word is getting over-worked.  I am ready for peak peaks.
Peak peaks correlates with die-off.
Undulating plateaus is the better alternative.
I think someone didn't get the joke.

If we're into humor depletion already, does that mean we didn't notice peak corn?

I don't believe in peak humor - I think there are billions of jokes still out there that remain to be discovered.
I read somewhere that humor is created continuously deep within the earth's core.  In the US, we pump out these crude jokes, and refine them into puns, bon-mots, witticisms and the Daily Show, but poorer countries just make do with humble fart jokes and rude noises.
Getting flashbacks to Monsters, Inc, running out of Scream, and then going for the more powerful yuks, instead.

Not to quibble over a throw-away, but I'm just CERTAIN that the US has an ample supply of the Cruder Stuff, if only we could just bottle that fine goo and drive our cars on it..

One can argue that as we deplete the clean humor, that all will be left is the high-sulphur humor from whence fart jokes and South Park episodes are made.

Some types of jokes appear to be nearly completely depleted - knock-knock jokes and polack jokes for example.

You believe in abiotic humor?  Wow!  I thought that was completely discreditied!
You are aware of my position regarding Electrification of Transportation and a renewable electricity grid.

What is the registration information & cost for the conference.

Is this a good forum to "push" my ideas ?  Should I try to becoem a speaker next year (appears too laet this year.

Any thoughts ?

The information on the conference is here I would drop them a line, though the program itself has some excellent speakers, there may be space. I'm just going to listen and network.
There's also a conference the day before that one:

The Petrocollapse Conference
All Souls Unitarian Church
16th and Harvard Streets, NW, Washington D.C.
Columbia Heights Metro Station
May 6, 2006 9 am - 7 pm

I'm getting piqued.
 The corn is as high as an elephant's eye...

Here's another story on the gas shortages:

Out of gas

With roughly 40% of refineries in the area currently going through the changeover, you still have to be concerned about other potential shortages when the other refineries decide to change over as well. They all have to convert to the ethanol based gasoline by June 1st.

So, this could be going on until June?

Don't forget these refineries are going through triple wammy!
1. Ethanol instead of MTBE
2. Sulfur emmissions must be reduced to meet new regulations that are due this year.
3. Shortage of contractors who are incharge of installing, reconfigurations, and repairing.

Most of these work are one time events, so the refineries contract these workers and don't do it internally.  Also, these refineries have to compete with the same contract pool as electric powerplants who are also going through spring cleaning and need lots of repairs and installation of new equipment.

Need to clarify that the utilities also need to meet these new sulfur reduction emmissions that refineries must meet- thus they are competing for some contractors, etc....
Right now there is a free front page story on this at OPIS:

They forecast ethanol shortages through mid-2007. I am glad I don't live in an area that requires reformulated gasoline.


Hello R-squared,

Since ethanol cannot be sent through pipelines and must be distributed by tanker rigs--Do you know if this has been incorporated into ERoEI calculations?  This potentially could lower the ERoEI to unity [or worse]; another scientific 'nail in the coffin' to halt the advance of the biofuel industry.

Additionally, the required huge management logistics of adequately scheduling ethanol deliveries to JIT marry with regular gasoline deliveries is probably raising prices for gasoline as any time delays costs money.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


You are hitting on something that I have given a lot of thought to. The USDA studies have a contribution for transportation in the ERoEI calculations, but it is a very small number. They don't detail what their assumptions are. It is very hard to believe that those transportation numbers they cite (1588 BTUs per gallon of ethanol) account for ethanol being produced in the Midwest and shipped to the east or west coast. I think they are trying to compute an average transportation cost, but that doesn't really make sense from an ERoEI standpoint. That's saying something like "It's OK that the overall ERoEI for putting ethanol in the New York market is negative, since it all averages out." Tell that to the New Yorkers.

I have pointed out in some essays that they do something similar in calculating an average ERoEI for the 9 highest corn producing states. Yet within those 9 states, Nebraska, which must irrigate its corn, has a significantly higher energy input into the process. So, if they say the ERoEI is 1.3, that doesn't mean that it is 1.3 in every state. If California or Arizona uses such an optimistic ERoEI to justify building an ethanol plant, they are making a big mistake because their ERoEI won't be nearly that good (and could in fact be negative for specific states).


Actually, since ethanol production affects consumption at the margin, it should probably be accounted for with the worst ERoEI in the nation.

It makes me wonder how much more we could get out of that land if it was planted in switchgrass or Miscanthus.

As the drought is expected to continue here in Nebraska and the water levels in the western reservoirs and ogallala aquifer keep dropping, irrigation becomes more difficult and expensive.  This is certainly also true in Kansas and South Dakota, and to a lesser degree the southwestern part of Iowa, the state that produces the most corn.  

So you're right, the energy that goes into corn & ethanol production is certainly a variable.

When I filled up on Tuesday (first tank since I left Missouri), diesel was a penny cheaper than 87 octane.  The changeover does not appear to affect distillate.
June 1, 2006, refineries will be required to produce UltraLow Sulfur diesel ( 0.015%) for 80% of their over teh road demand.  Expect diesel to jump a bit then (EPA says 5¢/gallon, I say more).
high crude oil prices have made ethanol prices competitive as a replacement for gasoline.

I disagree with that all the way. Look at the rack prices of ethanol versus gasoline:

Ethanol has never been cheaper than gasoline except for a few brief months when it was oversupplied.

Today's spot price of ethanol: $2.73.
Today's spot price of mid-grade gasoline: $2.17

Yet the gasoline has only 70% of the energy content. Yeah, that really looks competive. As I calculated in a recent blog entry on E85, without the subsidies it will cost over $50 more (compared to gasoline) to run E85 for every 1,000 miles of driving.


Yet the gasoline has only 70% of the energy content.

Oops. Of course that should read "Yet the ethanol has only 70% of the energy content." Ethanol is priced competitively with gasoline when it is about 70% the price of gasoline. In that case, you are paying the same price for the BTUs.


Can you also include international ethanol prices?

US tariffs on ethanol is insanely high, which prevents importation of this fuel.

Although, and this also gets neglected in many discussions, the side product of ethanol production is a brewers grain that is a good feed for livestock.

Yes, it's often overlooked, but it's also misunderstood. Cows are ruminants and evolved to eat grass. The general guideline today is not to feed cows more than 3 lbs of DDGS (dried distillers grain and solubles from ethanol production) per day to avoid making them sick. If all US corn were used for ethanol production, it would be enough DDGS for 180 million cows, compared to the 80 million we have now. So at some point, it no longer is the bonus coproduct.

Second, this DDGS output as a byproduct of ethanol production provides, for some bizarre reason, an energy credit to ethanol in the USDA, Argonne, Farrell et al (Science) analyses of ethanol EROEI. This is falacious. It's the same as crediting the energy content of the jet kero, diesel, fuel oil, naphtha, asphalt, etc. in a refinery--all coproducts of gasoline production--back to gasoline in an refinery efficiency analysis. Properly, part of the energy consumption in an ethanol plant should be allocated to the DDGS, not the other way around.

Aye Captain, tis true. But HOGS are not ruminants. And they will eat anything and everything you throw at them. Pork, baby! It's the other white meat.
No, pigs are even worse. You can only feed them a maximum of about 20% DDGS due to the extremely poor digestable lysine and high fiber content. That means a pig can only eat a few ounces of DDGS per day. No idea how many pigs there are in the states, but my guess is there aren't nearly enough. Coes are a much better use of DDGS for a reason.
When you type 'oil' into Google, do you get the same weird site as I do coming up #1?

How about 'Tiananmen Square'?

Where exactly in Asia? It would be great to have a TOD:East.

Do you know who Tank Man is? (was)? PBS' Frontline did a great piece on China very recently. Have you seen it? I have so many questions.

There are too many pigs in the states.

But, as we say, four legs good, two legs bad. Know what I mean?

And where there are pigs and cows, there is porcine and bovine excrement. Some of the hog farms down in North Carolina are little more than hazardous waste dumps, with huge storage lagoons filled to the brim with pig shit. It's my understanding the feed lots of the mid west are even worse; virtually cities of cows being fattened up for slaughter. The stench from the cow shit is overwhelming and can be smelled for miles away.
   When peak oil hits in earnest, I am not all that sure that the factory farming of animals for human consumption is going to survive. Both processes seem to the casual observer to be extremely energy intensive (not to mention environmentally unsound).
   I'm no whacked out vegan, as I like the occasional pork loin or T-bone, but I think factory farms may up in the same boat as the big box stores when they can't get their product to market due to high fuel prices, among other things.

Subkommander Dred

Pig shit is like people shit. Really. Not something you want around. Cow manure, unless the cows have been force-fed some really weird stuff like other dead cows etc., is relatively benign. People dry it and use it for fuel for goodness' sake.
One time I was out motorcycling and smelled a pig farm/feedlot from at least fifteen miles away. The odor got stronger as I approached, and by the time it reached maximum the stench made me so ill I could barely function, and so I cranked the throttle and broke every speed limit in the book to get away from the poisonous vapors.

How people can live downwind of pig farms I do not know. Give me a stinky oil refinery any time; those fumes have got to be way less toxic than the crap of 10,000 (?) pigs.

Maybe Muslims and Jews are onto something.

Michael Pollan, the author of 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' was on NPR's Fresh Air last week, talking about energy, diet and agriculture, not necessarily in that order.  In it he mentioned a farm I believe was also mentioned some years ago in Smithsonian that is in the Shenandoah area, where they have Cows graze in fields sequentially, followed by mobile hutches of Rabbits and Chickens, who 'reprocess' the patties, devour the fly-larva and otherwise help balance the land use and fertilization.  

Their pigs (so said Smithsonian anyway) were also happy 'detritovores', if I can bastardize Totoniela's term, helping to aerate and compost the animal wastes.  One of the main benefits of this process, so said the farmer, was that the animals rarely got the kinds of disease problems associated with huge, monocultural Agribusinesses.  The various animals traditionally seen on farms seemed to have complementary metabolic defenses. Who'da thunk?

In contrast, Pollan mentioned visiting a so-called 'free-range' non-antibiotic, organic chicken warehouse, where the farmers were relieved that these Slum-hens didn't know about the little doors that led out to their little 'free-range' yards, since these defenseless clones were suceptible to more germs than ever, and they could cross-infect the whole population in their little Stadium.


Oh, Pollan had a great description of Monocultural Agribusiness, where the animal and plant species could no longer create a symbiotic (and basically free) range of nutrients and fertilizers for one another.  He said that basically Agribusiness had taken a solution, and broken it up into multiple problems.


   You are quite right in that cow manure can and does make a good fertilizer. However... I can't help but think about the amount of growth hormones, pesticides, and in particular, antibiotics that the cows (and pigs) consume in their feed. The ABX problem is very worrisome from a public health standpoint, as I am seeing ever larger numbers of antibiotic resistant bugs showing up in my patients and within the community at large. As you know, evolution being what it is, the more a bug (microbe) is exposed to antiboitics, the more of a chance of a mutation of that bug into one that is resistant to ABX.
  What is so incredible to me is that in this country the largest consumer of antibiotics is the livestock industry. The medications are passed through the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys...whatever is being raised in the factory farm...into their waste and ulitmately into the environment (land, creeks, rivers, groundwater, maybe even aerosolized into the atmosphere). Not to mention the meat that we consume from these animals.
  I'm not talking about farmer Brown and his free range, organic Black Angus cows. These places produce massive amounts of toxic shit, the various chemicals in which can and does find it's way into our food chain. With all of the energy inputs required to make this type of operation profitable, I have a hard time seeing them continue as a going concern within the next few years.

Subkommander Dred

Here in Denver, if the wind is right you can smell feedlots from 40-50 miles away... I wouldn't call what a feedlot cow produces benign!

Down here in the Deep South, it is the chicken farms, instead.  Not as bad as pigs, but dang close.  Imagine the smell of thousands or even tens of thousands of chickens (or turkeys), doing their thing in series of long, open-air coops.  Nothing quite like the tang of tons of chicken-**.
In Minnesota it is the turkey farms. Repellant if you happen to go for a long bike ride and get stuck downwind.
hog and cattle dejects are rich in carbon and can be usefully transformed in biogas that the farmers can use as fuel. this kind of installation were used in my homecountry in the '80s. I don't think they were very expensive to make.

maybe somebody around knows more about this.

 A few to get you started...

Cow dung for the climate
by Navin Singh Khadka

A model biogas project is creating a win-win situation for rural Nepalese, the industrialised world and the atmosphere.

Cows make fuel for biogas train
By Tim Franks
BBC Newsnight

In IFWMS, the anaerobically digested wastes from livestock are treated aerobically before the nutrients are delivered into the fishponds to fertilize the natural plankton that feed the fish without depleting oxygen, thereby increasing fish yield 3- to 4-fold, especially with the polyculture of many kinds of compatible fish feeding at different trophic levels as practiced in China, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh. The fish produce their own wastes that are converted naturally into nutrients for crops growing both on the water surface and on dykes surrounding the ponds.

The most significant innovation of IFWMS is thus the two-stage method of treating wastes. Livestock waste contains very unstable organic matter that decomposes fast, consuming a lot of oxygen. So for any fish pond, the quantity of livestock wastes that can be added is limited, as any excess will deplete the oxygen and affect the fish population adversely, even killing them.

Chan is critical of "erratic proposals" of experts, both local and foreign, to spread livestock wastes on land to let them rot away and hope that the small amount of residual nutrients left after tremendous losses that damage the environment have taken place.

According to the US Environment Protection Agency, up to 70% of nitrous oxide, N2O, a powerful greenhouse gas with a global warming potential of 280 (i.e., 280 times that of carbon dioxide) comes from conventional agriculture [57]. Nitrous oxide is formed as an intermediate both in nitrification - oxidising ammonia (NH3) into nitrate (NO3-) - and denitrification, reducing nitrate ultimately back to nitrogen gas. Both processes are carried out by different species of soil bacteria. Animal MANURE could be responsible for nearly half of the N2O emission in agriculture in Europe, according to some estimates; the remainder coming from inorganic nitrate fertilizer [58]. Thus, anaerobic digestion not only prevents the loss of nutrients, it could also substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in the form of both METHANE (harvested as biogas) and nitrous oxide (saved as nutrient).

Chan further dismisses the practice of composting nutrient-rich livestock wastes [59], for this ends up with a low-quality fertilizer that has lost ammonia, nitrite (NO) and nitrous oxide. Instead of mixing livestock wastes with household garbage in the compost, Chan recommends producing high-protein feeds such as earthworms from the garbage, and using worm castings and garbage residues as better soil conditioners.

To close the circle, which is very important for sustainable growth, livestock should be fed crops and processing residues, not wastes from restaurants and slaughterhouses. Earthworms, silkworms, fungi, insects and other organisms are also encouraged, as some of them are associated with producing high value goods such as silk and mushrooms.


Rat (or should I say Mr. West),

Love the handle, friend. How's Pearly?

She's good. Pearly's been true to me; true to my dying day's end :>)
 Thnaks for asking.

Usually go by Rat, or Wharfie, or, sometimes, when I talk about restored honor in the White House, I go by Marcus Antonio Ratticus, for Shrub is an honorable man.

Don't apologize for having "wacked out vegan views." I'm not veg either but it's clear looking at that chart that HALF of corn production goes to feed animals we eat which is a radical waste of energy. Our meat consumption to drop. That is simple data analysis, not a radical social view.
Sorry that should be "Our meat consumption needs to drop."
Post peak sustainability means a lot of changes.  vegetarianism will be one of them.  When we look back at the good ol' days of big fast cars, ubiquitous jet travel, and cheap Chinese consumer products, another anachronism that we will see in the rearview mirror will be all this beef.

The future: 1.5 liter hybrid plug-ins, local vacations, minimalism and... edaname.  : )

Or at least a huge drop in consumption - I haven't studied the possibility but having meat a few times a week doesn't strike me as crazy compared to meat at every meal for most Americans today.

I hope we can still import some tamarind and fish sauce from Asia...I can't tolerate tofo unless it's in Thai food...

I'm no vegetarian, but my favorite lunch has become a pot full of noodles and various veggies and fungi.  Oh, and lots of hot pepper (somewhere along the line I became a capsaicin junkie).
As an owner of farmland (wouldn't call myself a farmer yet), I have to agree with Dred. However, this is largely an issue with confinement livestock operations and not with livestock farming in general.

Getting back to the issue at hand, I imagine line-feeding a mixture including brewing wastes to livestock could be done with next to no smell issues or (more importantly) groundwater problems.

Since I'm soon going to be living with a couple hundred cows and calves on my property, this is an issue close to my heart.

Thinking about this more, in a sense it is a problem with livestock farming in general. The vast majority of beef cows end up spending the last six weeks of their lives "finishing" in a high-density feedlot. But there are other options.
so many better ways to do it
here's another
We have a cattle ranch, and we feed our cows grass and hay, which is basically stored grass (or stored solar energy!) along with some alfalfa for protein.

We also feed them some silage, which is chopped corn, in the winter.

They only get tiny amounts of grain when they're being prepared for a show or a sale. Too much pure grain is deadly.

How about
  1. keeping the ethanol as a mandatory oxygenate
  2. announcing a gradual phase-out of subsidies
  3. frying some distillers grains with onions.

We could have substitutes for everything.
Sparaxis - VERY well said.
So, gas rationing here we come?

I was surprised to see that gas prices in Chicago are higher than they are in the california bay area.

CA made the transition a few years back.  Remember those years when gas was a quarter or more than the national average?  At least the transition wasn't made with the companies facing a mandated deadline.

What I cant figure out is why Bush and cronies haven't muscled the EPA into not requiring any gasoline additive whatsoever. They've figured out how to loosen other enviro laws so companies can get their way.  For political expediency, dropping the oxygenate requirement for the sake of lower oil prices would probably do more for his ratings (how much is another story) than an endless series of speeches on staying course in Oilraq.

One thing for sure, the EIA does show quite a draw in the east.

Total Gasoline stocks
Location  2006    2005
US        202.5   211.6
East Coast 48.4   58.6

Reformulated Gasoline
Location  2006    2005
US        10.8    25.1
East Coast 5.6    14.9  

All other regions saw slight declines or slight builds

"What I cant figure out is why Bush and cronies haven't muscled the EPA into not requiring any gasoline additive whatsoever" - Yet. They've got so little happy dust left, might as well save what they have till they really need it.
What I cant figure out is why Bush and cronies haven't muscled the EPA into not requiring any gasoline additive whatsoever.
They don't want to alienate the farm lobby, which is a big part of their base.  The whole ethanol thing is much more of a sop to the farmers (and huge profits for the likes of ADM) than any kind of an energy program.  The electorate doesn't connect the farm subsidies to their own pain, so there's little political risk.
is there any evidence people are hoarding at the consumer level?


You're not serious. ?
Land requirements for various ethanol crops and gasoline replacement percentages can be found here.
Gas price comparison in USD, GBP and EUR here. Also does mpg to litres/100km conversions. Note: gas is currently $6.41 in the UK!
This article blames equipment failure, not just the switch to ethanol.

Equipment failure at a leading terminal for gasoline distribution is being cited as one reason Hampton Roads has suddenly found itself running low on gas.

At a Chesapeake energy storage and distribution terminal, a device that captures gasoline vapors failed last weekend and forced the terminal to close.

Repairs quickly followed, but disruptions in the gasoline supply rippled almost immediately through Hampton Roads. Shortages continued Thursday, keeping motorists guessing about where to find gas.

The gas shortages are CNN's lead story now.  They report police have had to be called in to control angry motorists.

Nothing at all about it on CNN's web site, I looked.

There's talk about it on the radio, supposedly people being worried about Iran has raised prices by $15 a barrel, although Iran is no danger to anyone.

Other stories blame the switch to MTBE or away from MTBE, take your choice.

Other blame, well, the discussion kind of trails off, nothing definate said.

I think the scariest scenario is that it's just what it looks like, good old market forces. US'ians are being outbid. Maybe a sprinkle of good old warefare the same way be beat the Germans and the Japanese all those years ago, damage the inflow of oil wherever possible. That's low-level but it's happening and it shows no sign of stopping.

If we start with the simplest explanation, that world produciton peaked in December, it would follow that the decline in imports would take about two months to show up, which would be mid-February.  In mid-February, we started seeing falling total petroleum imports into the US and rapidly rising prices.  IMO, the crisis in upon us.
Exactly. And while mean ol' guys in Iran about to nuke us all to smithereens are good for scaring ppl and everyone just knows that mtbe is baaaaaaad stuff (because we believe what the tube tells us, we're not chemists) and that's always a good thing to blame, it's really just boring mundane old market forces, decreasing production, and yeah, some determined low-level opposition folks very slowly but very steadily pecking away at facilities pipelines etc.
OK I looked it up just to make sure I had it right, I was reminded of the Chomsky quote about how the public was led to believe in the Vietnam years that Ho Chi Minh was going to get into a canoe and land in Boston and rape their sisters and that sort of thing. In reality of course the guy was harmless as far as the US population was concerned. But he had to be made out to be this big bad guy to make people thing the Viet Nam war was worth doing.

Same thing here, the guy in Iran is making your SUV fillup cost more, thus, war with Iran might be a good idea, right?

I'm up wayyy too late/early here. Fooling with um, wires.

I assure you MTBE is bad. don't try to drink it. it is clearly and strongly linked with liver cancer. There are not many people with liver cancer from it but if alternatives are found why not use them.

truth is that there is far more AML (acute myeloid leukemia) from benzene exposure (gasoline has 2-5% benzene)than liver cancers from MTBE, but one can hardly argue that will not be god to get rid of those few liver cancers we get from MTBE.

> but one can hardly argue that will not be god to get rid of those few liver cancers we get from MTBE.

Well, Tom Delay did !

He argued strongly for liability limitations on MTBE exposure cases, in order to preserve & protect our oil industry and their continued use of MTBE.

my fault. tom delay is a human subspecies I have not thought about. lol.

I tend to think you are correct as well.  Witness the scramble of explanations coming from news outlets and government agencies (worldwide).  It changes pretty much on an hourly basis.  I truly don't think the US government will ever admit to Peak Oil.  That is an admission of failure to the "American Dream" because that dream is built on unlimited growth and prosperity.  

We, in the US, will have to rethink our dream and it will have to be a unified dream if we want to keep our country intact.

Scary, yet potentially exciting times lie ahead. We are being forced to be creative after years of complacency.  We are going to be forced to deal with Natural Selection directly after years of avoiding it due to cheap energy.

These are truly watershed moments in history.  Times of swift transitions and opportunities where none existed previously.  They are only limited by dogma and inaction.

Are we witnessing the next step in human evolution?  Perhaps.  Those that survive this event will have certain characteristics that are passed onto their ancestors.  Lets hope those characteristics are well-adapted for this future environmental change that is upon us.

Are we witnessing the next step in human evolution?

Yeah.  We're gonna evolve all the way to Afghanistan.

Ha....true...that's always a possible course. Kunstler's America.  
Wow, you callin' the peak?

I'm not ready to do so, but I certainly agree that the news seems consistent with a December '05 peak.  Everybody is talking now about MTBE and ethanol ... but when I use the charting tool at gasbuddy to compare the US national average and the Canadian national average, I see them going up together.  That kind of points away from the MTBE thing.

While it "feels like peak" I think part of that might just be my human reaction to a new high in my local gas prices.  We've never seen $3+, but here it is.

On the other hand, callin' the peak could be the right move ;-)

Daniel Yergin of CERA, in an interview last week on NPR ( spoke of the "aggregate disruptions" of Iran, Nigeria, MTBE changeover as primary reasons for high oil prices.  Were it not for these factors, he believes per barrel prices would probably be in the low to mid $50's - perhaps as low as the high $40's today.  He did not, of course, take the opportunity to consider more ominous and complex underlying factors contributing to rising prices.
Use this chart tool to plot the US and Canadian gas price averages for the last 3 years:

Canadians, without MBTE (less than 2% of their fuel used MTBE back in 2000) are on the same curve we are.

I think the global suppply and demand is the main thing driving our prices, but the ethanol shortages and distribution problems are driving the gasoline shortages and outages on the east coast.

I think the shortages will be fixed before prices are.

Were it not for these factors, he believes per barrel prices would probably be in the low to mid $50's - perhaps as low as the high $40's today.

Wasn't he the one who was predicting the return of $30 oil any day now?  Maybe he's slowly inching toward the Cornucopian Cemetery.  ;-)

BTW, we have a new record, thanks in part to the new contract.  Oil hit a record high of $74.30 or thereabouts today.

We may break $75 today.  

From CNN:

U.S. oil for June delivery reached $74.95, up $1.26 at midday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The May contract expired on Thursday at $71.95.

Six cents from being "closer to $100 oil than $50 oil."

According to FXStreet, we've broken the $75 barrier.
Some of the forward contracts are over 77.  Dec. 2010 is going for around 70 even.  The curve's getting pretty flat... contango may extend.
We have new records in both London and NY.

Oil breaks through record $75

Oil prices turned higher and hit a record above $75 a barrel in New York Friday on fresh worries over Iran's nuclear program and Nigeria's supply outages.

U.S. oil for June delivery reached $75.15, up $1.46 in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, before easing back to $75 around 2:10 pm ET. The May contract expired Thursday at $71.95.

In late Friday trade, Brent crude rose as high as $74.40, a new record, before easing to $74.28, up $1.10.

This was the line in the cnn report that intriqued me.  I've seen similar quotes from the iranians before, but the word "several" is beginning to worry me.

"But several OPEC ministers have said there is little more the group can do to bring down high prices as it is already pumping at near full capacity."


We'll see how many more times they can include that word with a straight face.

"Aggregate Disruptions" == "Queueing Theory" in action

No real system can operate at 100% of theoretical capacity.  As you reach the limits, small perturbations can cascade into much larger disturbances.  Ever been in a traffic jam and when you got to the choke point noticed that there was nothing there; no accidents, lane closures, or scantilly-clad female sailor-wannabe's looking for a virile sailing instructor?  It was a near-full road condition and someone tapped their brake a smidge too hard.  The tailgater behind tapped harder, the next harder still, and presto! a traffic jam.

t(rolling gas outtage) < t(PO)

From Jurrasic Park:

[realizing that the park is out of control]
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Boy, do I hate being right all the time!
Stop scaring me, Westexas. You make too much damn sense. This is why I read this get the "tingle" of the downhill rollercoaster, to paraphrase a recent poster.
If we're at peak right now, it is because of the confluence of geological, political and climatic factors. As much of a "peaker" as I may be, I think if Iraq and Nigeria were stable and there was no hurricane disruption we could be producing perhaps 1.5 mbpd more than we are right now. However, perhaps that WOULD be the peak. I just think we won't get there because I am afraid all those issues are more likely to get worse than better.
Just watching CNN. What they are showing is a story about people pawning their belongings in Texas to afford gas.  Rage at oilcos and Republicans is the new black.
Someone at said a similar story is airing on the local news in West Virginia.

People are actually pawning their wedding rings to get gas money.  o_O

That is ridiculous. It's their own damn fault that they have to pawn their belongings to buy gas. Just how overextended are these people living? How much "junk" did these people buy (on credit) and mortgage to not even have a few dollars more for gas?

When I was growing up, my dad explained to me the difference between purchasing what I need and purchasing what I want. Thus, I've been frugal with my money and make sure that if I lose my job or if gas goes over $10/gallon, etc. I will still be okay.
I suspect that before they blame themselves they're going to blame all the people that claimed oil would be plentiful and $25/bbl for all eternity.  These people obviously consider gas in the same category as food.
Maybe they should go kick Danny boy Yeargin's ass for a while.
Any abiotic oil people should probably think of entering the witness protection program in the near future.
Aren't food prices going up as well since they reflect oil prices? i.e. fertilizer, farming equipment, truck delivery, etc. Won't that be a double-hit: higher gas prices, higher food prices?
Okay, that's enough.  Not everyone is gunning their hummers to the convenience store around the block.  

It would be nice if we could pick and choose who to be hit by this and who could be spared.  

But there are a lot of people who simply do not have a lot of ways to cut extras out of their lives.  And it's not because they are lazy or are irresponsible w/ borrowing, etc.

Consider, for example, home health aides, nurses, etc.  My father was at home and in hospice care here in Houston.  These folks have to travel all over this sprawled out city in their own vehicles, get little compensation for their travel, and many have to live quite far from the center of town in order to afford housing.

And that's just one example.  

You bet there are a lot of us that can cut a lot of our wasteful habits (and will have to struggle w/ new "inconveniences"), who can be expected to change out our vehicles for those w/ much better mpg, etc.  Or who have gotten ourselves into financial trouble due to irresponsibility, and we do deserve that lashing.  

But don't so easily generalize.  

Most all of us are surely going to hurt more and more as this stuff develops, but right now, many are really hurting already, and don't have a lot of options to accommodate what's happening, even in the short run.

It is easy to poke fun at people who drive SUVs.  There is a guy at my office who drives a Hummer - the office is in Virginia, but he has Maryland tags, so I figure he is driving at least 30 miles one way to get to the office.  Funny though - I haven't seen the thing lately.  I wonder if there is some sort of problem :-).

The fundamental problem is that supply cannot keep up with demand.  This is what is driving up prices, and getting increased supply appears to be unlikely.  The most obvious solution is to reduce demand.  What would you suggest that we do in order to reduce gasoline demand?

There was a woman at work complaining the other day.  She said "I don't use that much".  She drives 100 miles round trip every day - I don't know how you can classify that as "not much", but in her eyes it isn't much.  She drives some sort of Japanese import - probably ~30mpg or so.

Well said!


Hello TODers,

It is just like Kunstler said it would be: people will do anything before they will give up their cars.  People pawning items for gas money to quickly burn it up in a large vehicle would be much better served if they took that money to buy a bicycle and/or a scooter to leverage the distance traveled/dollar invested.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I've seen enough cheap bicycles at Salvation Army, and discarded bicycles in repairable condition, to wonder why anyone is without transportation of some kind.

Then again, I live in an affluent area where people throw out working televisions and whole living room sets instead of donating them to charity.  I find this offensive.

There was a story over at about a guy who sold his Harley and bought a diesel motorcycle - something obscure (frame is a Dnepr, engine is a Hatz).  He is running it on something like 50% petro and 50% vegetable oil - he has already lined up a restaurant that will give him used oil.

And he gets > 80mpg on this thing.

You make an interesting point though.  Vespa scooters aren't hard to come by, and could serve as good commuting vehicles for some folks.

When I was a kid, teenagers didn't automatically get their own car on graduation.  Come to think of it, my college graduation present was a bicycle.  My friends who did have cars had old beaters or hand-me-downs, and didn't drive a lot because these things got horrible mileage, and parents weren't about to bankroll them.  Perhaps parents ought to get their kids a scooter instead of a car.  Kind of limits the opportunities for back-seat nookie though.

We talk about bicycles - that's great for shorter distances.  You will probably encounter more resistance getting people on these things though.

In some countries, pizza delivery is done by a guy on a scooter - they don't waste fuel driving a car around just to deliver pizza.

There is so much room for improvement.  We just need to get people to think outside of the box.

You guys priced a Vespa lately?  They're a little more than you might think.  I think they've become trendy, but I don't see any being used in my area.  Too many giant trucks and SUVS scare them off, I guess.
It might be telling that the Newport Beach Vespa dealer is next door to a BMW dealership, and about a mile from the Ferrari dealer.

(Honda still makes the Metropolitan, and 110 mpg Bajaj Chetaks can sometimes be found)

I'm watching an MSNBC show called "stick it to the man" ;-)

It's about hybrids and such.

Republicans should be the new tarred and feathered.

Where's the promised "Market-provided solutions" now that it's TSHTF time? $74/bl and climbing to $75 on NYMEX. Wow.

Costa Rica is implementing 7.5% ethanol into regular
gasoline at this time.
"The program, funded in part by Brazilian oil company Petrobras, cost us$15 million and will eventually be expanded across the country, if results are positive, in an attempt to bring down Costa Rica's oil costs, which jumped by 45% between 2004 and 2005.

However, in a short time, the program has not been welcomed well. Many drivers are complaining of poor performance and engine problems, from knocking to stalling.
 here's the link:

It only took Brazil thirty years to implement ethanol effectively...Costa Rica needs to chill out.

I was kind of thinking of going to the conference - I live in the DC area, so getting there won't be a problem.  The downside for me is that I would have to take 2 days off of work and pay 250$ to register.  And for this I get what?  Many of these people I have heard speak before.  I suppose what would be interesting is to see how many political types show up and take it all in.

I am still up in the air on this, but I am tempted to take a pass and let others report what is said.

I have the same issues.  I could attend the Petrocollapse on Saturday without missing work, but I do already get it so instead, I'm trying to interest my local government and business contacts in attending one or the other.  That's a tough sell.
I must be the only farmer on this site.

"strong increases in corn productivity
with little or no increase in fertilizer..


Corn acres expected to decline

Feb 10, 2006 8:38 AM

The 20-year long-term average price for natural gas had been about $2.10 per million British thermal units up until 2000. It takes about 33 million Btu to produce a ton of anhydrous ammonia, which is the base for other nitrogen products and is also a major input in phosphate products.

"Of course, this is putting U.S. farmers under a lot of financial stress. Prices for corn have been going down over the last two to three years while the cost of producing corn has been going up. The biggest factor in the higher costs is fertilizer. The per acre cost for fertilizer has just about doubled over the last few years. Fuel prices have also doubled over the last few years."

These factors will likely result in U.S. corn acres declining by 1.5 million to 2 million acres in 2006.


Thank you, James. Excellent info.
Hope you're NOT the only Farmer here, James,  but it's reassuring to hear people from all sorts of experience ARE here and can catch bad info. from their part of the world.




I agree with you and have comments.

Corn, biodiesel, and or cellulosic can not replace all current liquid fuels.

Second, without cheap and abundant fertilizer existing crop production (yields) can not be maintained.  This feedbacks heavily to replacement of petroleum fuels.

However, from an energy and cost standpoint to farmers there may be a viable business case for having reduced yields but reducing even more the cost of inputs for farming.  Farmers aren't making enough money not because they don't have high yields (they do) but because they don't make enough profit per acre of ground planted.  That needs to change in the farmers favor.

I see a place for food and fuel production from agriculture but at a much reduced level from what is being planned today.  This means reducing total consumption of liquid fuels and replacing some of that lower amount with renewables.  Gradually replace more and more petroleum with renewables but always try to reduce total liquid fuels year on year.  

Plan a sustainable system of agriculture, not the highest yields possible.  Divert some of that production to energy needs, if that is required.  Allow farmers and those involved to maintain their land and make a decent living without having to buy out their neighbors and farm twice the area every 5-10 years.

Oh and this is a societal problem as much as a farmer problem.  I have been employed in just about every aspect of farming from seed businesses to growing the crop.  There is not a simple solution and farmers are at the bottom of the pile with regards to influence no matter what anybody thinks about farm subsidies.

I am not a farmer, but I sure like farmers markets.
Fertilizer from coal could allow the soil destructive Industrial Farming model to continue.

Chemical Companies Look to Coal as an Oil Substitute

"With oil and natural gas prices showing no signs of plummeting, and with incentives to use coal built into the Energy Policy Act of 2005, it just might happen. And chemical companies, which use oil and gas as feedstocks -- industry jargon for raw materials -- are hoping it will happen soon."

The Wisdom passed down
to me from Grandad-

Farmers are in the only
bizness where you are buying inputs at
retail and selling produce

Richard Manning's Against the Grain that puts it well:

A farm scholar once asked an abribusiness executive when his corporation would simply take over the farms. The exec said that it would be dumb for the corporation to do so, in that it is not free to exploit its employees to the degree that farmers are willing to exploit themselves.


Howdy James,

I'm curious: why are prices going down?  Is demand dropping?  Foreign competition?


Why are prices going down?

I've been wondering this since I listened to my Dad
complaining about them when I was 12 years

Bottom line-The US Economy is fed and grown
on the profits that are systematicly removed
from the farmer.

The only time grain/fiber prices rally
is in spikes-usually drought in the US
or a major competitor(Ozzies, Canada)
or failing Empire (Russia to import
during the 70's.

Or War.

You have depression prices the rest of the time.


I'm not a farmer either, but I read that the other input corn needs is water, and quite a lot of it for good yields.  That's another commodity in increasingly short supply in some parts of the country.  
My father is a "gentleman farmer" in retirement.  BS Agriculture, MS Fram Managment, PhD Agricultural Econmomics (second PhD except dissertation in Statistics). He retired as university professor and took over 800 acres of Kentucky Bluegrass when my grandfather died.  Tobacco is WAY down, now mainly cattle.

He got "Peak Oil" VERY quickly and was trying to articulate the concept of EROEI as a concern going forward when I used the phrase and he said "exactly".  He asked almost immediately about the EROEI on corn ethanol and wondered if it even broke-even.  He asked me about sugar corn ethanol since he knew less about it's cultivation.

Some interesting conversations as he recovers from knee replacement surgery and I help out.

"San Francisco on Tuesday became the first major U.S. city to pass a resolution acknowledging the threats posed by peak oil, urging the city to develop a comprehensive plan to respond to the emerging global energy crunch."

As you may already know, Sweden was the first nation to publicly acknowledge peak oil and start making plans to mitigate its effects.

What is sweden doing?
Will it work?
Oil free economy by 2020.  The U.S. has been making analogous promises since 1973, and possibly 1970 if you include a Nixon speech.  It's noble, though, and I really do hope they succeed.
One thing we have done for over a decade is doing fairly heavy investments in railways and this will probably continue giving us a realy nice railway network in 2030 or so. This eats thru mountains of capital, the annual railway investment and maintainance subsidies from the state budget is about $1400 million, $122 000 per km of current railtrack. A large part of it is used for building a few very expensive tunnels to get rid of bottlenecks and build capacity in cities. Around 90% is electrified.
This part works.

Planning for tramlines is probably becomming more popular in large and medium size towns.

A fair ammount of municipialities run a large part of their busses on biogas or ethanol. Public transportation is fairly ok but we have too little population to make the most of it. A large percentage of public transportation is primarily motivated for schoolchildren and elderly people and then bonus used for random passangers.

There is a strong wave of urbanization combined with a counter wave to almost rural areas and suburb creation around the most successfull towns. It is extremely popular to have a few horses, this makes former farmning areas survive as potentially food producing areas.

Biogas production from various sources is probably soon booming, methyl esters will probably use all available rapeseed production area within a year or three, ethanol production is picking up and will use up all excess domestic cereal production within 2-3 years but there is still an excess of sugar beets.

Methane fueled wehicles might become popular, E85 wehicles are selling very well as are diesel wehicles.

This wont add up to replace the current diesel and gasolene use but there is a potential to produce significant ammounts of synthetic diesel, methanol, DME, and so on from black liquor from pulp plants. They have a fair ammount of capital, general process know how and there are some pilot projects being built. I think they will have to start investing soon since I expect paper to be in smaller demand in peak oil times since you now can avoid using it if times get tough. They have recently become less profitable and the cheaper grades of wood have started to become more expensive due to increased production of wood pelets, firewood and wood chips.

The use of heating oil will be insignificant within a few years, the first generation of replacements were resistive heating with cheap hydro and nuclear electricity and district heating, the current generation of replacement is mostly heat pumps, wood pellet burners and district heating.

Almost all garbage is now incinerated to get rid of it and to produce heat for district heating and some electricity.
We have even started to import some garbage as a mix of biofuel and once used fossil fuel. Ethanol production is colocated with district heating plants. With few exeptions all dense towns and cities have district heating. The new fad is to complement this with district cooling system that replaces individual electrical coolers with central absorbtion coolers run on summertime excess of heat from the district heating system. Other major district heating fuels are various biomass, coal and then oil for peak loads. Not much will happen here exept some more district heating, a lot more district cooling and the technology for combined heat and power production is advancing making smaller and smaller units economical for each year.

Massive investments are being done in mid life upgrading our 10 running nuclear powerplants and uprating them to replace the two closed buy stupid greens. Public opinion is changing and I expect that it will be acceptable to build new nuclear powerplants in about 5 years. This does not replace any more oil unless we get a lot of plug in hybrids but it is nice to export electricity and have power to run industries.

All wehicle producers are working with biofuels and hybrid drive lines for cars, trucks and heavy wehicles. We have a fairly large and innovative wehicle industry in Sweden, most of it is now foreign owned. Volvo cars(Ford), Saab cars(GM), Volvo trucks and heavy equipment, Scania Trucks, Hägglunds infantry fighting wehicles and various manufactureres of heavy equipment and forestry equipmet.

The current government initative to get rid of oil use to 2020 do not directly translate into good planning but it is doing a lot for making peak oil an issue. This year is an election year in Sweden. From my point of view it would be optimal for the worn out socalistis to make a lot of noise about peak oil and then be replaces by hard working liberals that can start rationalizing our way too large and inefficient state and get things done.

We have for some time and mostly other reasons then peak oil been doing the right things and can thus probably outbid manny other countries for oil and become a safe haven for energy intensive electricity using industries.

I guess oil will be insignificant for heating in 2009-2011, ground transportation in 2020-2030, dont know about air trave but aeroplanes better become more fuel efficient fast. A few Swedish harbours are big enough to accomondate future very large nuclear powered container ships and it is likely that one electrified double track thru Denmark to continental Europe will be two within about 20 years.

The situation is more or less the same in our nordic neighbours. Norway is richer in oil, gas and hydro power, Finland is better governed, Denmark has paid off their foreign debt, Iceland has electricity comming out of their ears. I think it is in the national character of all nordic peoples to solve problems in a logical and efficient way. We  might even have a larger percentage of "engineer minded" people. Good when the world changes, bad when we toy with socialism. :(

I think it will work out ok for us.

Hello TODers,

I am trying to imagine low energy alternatives to much of what occurs today.  As energy prices continue to climb, we will be forced to localize much of what we now take for granted.  I guess this essay's timeframe is set 200 years in the future, and my basic assumption is that we have found nothing to adequately replace fossil fuels.

I forsee long distance vacations going by the wayside.  A future non-detritus vacation will probably entail, for most of us anyways, of how far we are willing to pedal a bicycle and camp beside the road largely self-contained in supplies.  No more jetting off to Hawaii or cruising the seven seas.

I would expect professional sports to collapse as people will not have the income to go to games, and the sports infrastructure of stadiums and traveling teams will not be affordable.  Golf courses will be turned into vegetable gardens along with schoolyard playing fields as we desperately strive to grow sufficient food supplies.  NASCAR, and other motor sports will have been seen as pointless mechanized hamster wheel racing, but cross-country running and bicycle racing will be very popular.  Could local horse racing and betting become the King of sports again?

I think large concerts will be history too, but impromptu front porch acoustic concerts in your locale will be easy to find.  I think future kids will be too busy to find time to just hangout at the mall, but one room schools and community gardens will be the place to meet other teenagers.  The occasional local fairs will become the big events where much of these sports and meetings will take place.

I think fishing will continue to be popular, but no powered boats, sails or oars only, or fishing from the shore. Hunting and trapping will be localized too, but widespread local acclaim will go to the most proficient.

I think movie theaters and videogames will be postPeak toast, but good books will have a constantly increasing value as they will be almost energetically impossible to reproduce.  I could see a community pooling funds to rent a copy of Shakespeare's works to learn and re-enact his plays.

The saddest part will be the eventual loss of computers as these will only be affordable to the super-rich.  You can only cobble repairs for so long on these items.  But the most worrisome change for future humans will probably be the lack of modern dentistry and medicine.  I just cannot imagine a root canal or setting a broken leg without modern tools, painkillers, or anesthetics.  Ouch!

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

On painkillers and modern medicine/dentistry -
Opiates have been around and in use for a very long time.  Isopropyl (wood) alcohol kills bacteria, which, thankfully, we know cause disease and infection.
Both should still be rather readily available for centuries to come.
  I have been trying to figure out which of the things we take for granted today will make any of these coming changes a move Forward, not just a slide back into the caves. (Not that you were heading us there with your writing.)  There are developments in Culture, Science, Manufacturing, Agriculture, the Arts, etc.. that may have grown significantly BECAUSE we had the energy embodied in Oil, and could afford the time to do so..  That doesn't mean they're just going to fade to black as the Petroleum age dies.

 We're not going to stop having Radios or the Transistors that guide them.  We know how to combine materials, (including hydrocarbons, which aren't just going to vanish) to take flight, to store chemical energy, measure EM fields, to see in the dark, to detect a piece of metal in the ground, in your body, or flying in from the west..  Optics, Materials Sciences, Microbiology..

  I'm just saying that while yes, I agree there will likely be many more bikes, they might not look like anything we can even imagine yet, and they will still ride alongside the hum of motorized transport, too.  I don't think Shakespeare will ever go out of style, but not to forget that these people that follow us will also be writing, painting, coming up with new dances that would frighten and embarrass us.  The next political and cultural systems will largely, and almost by definition be a reaction and a commentary on what we do today.  And there will still be doomers, and there will still be Polyanna's (and some Polypropylene).. and then everyone else in between.  Just less of them.

"Strive mightily, as Lawyers do in Law; but eat and drink as friends"   Shakespeare


I consider learning electronic repair a tangible skill in the near future. as our current throw away culture comes to an end, if you can fix my gadget, I'd gladly give you some of this beer I've been making
I think we need to harmonize our lifestyle with the nature. We've done that milions of years and only in the last 2 centuries we started to rape our own environement. there is plenty of energy available, and plenty of ways to obtain it. and plenty of ways to conserve it without returning to the stone age.

America has to consider seriously its lifestyle choices. Of course the same applies to the other developed nations but in average their energy consumption and CO2 emmisions er capita are in average 50% of that of the Good Ol' US of A.

we eat too much, we drive too much ( more than any other nation in the world) and in the most wasteful transport appliances (SUV's and 3 tons pick-ups), we use too much paper, plastic ( has anybody thought of how much energy is spent just on the wrapping/containers/boxes of the stuff we buy from mall), we do not recycle enough of these.

In the end we are among the fattest people on this planet, have the among highest incidence of diabetes in kids and we are WASTEFULL and inconsiderate of the natural resources in general...

a energy crisis, looming or not, should make all of us reconsider our lifestyle choices.

I'm not advocating aganst decent housing, golf courses, freedom of movement ( the sort we have from our cars) but just for getting to all these by more wise, sofisticated and nature friendly means.

Perhaps we should have paid more attention to American Indians knowledge instead of trying to wipe it out of existence.  They seemed to have been living a pretty sustainable existence in this country at one time.
There's no doubt about that.  Even the things we ALMOST learned, like the parts of our Democratic tools inspired by the Iroquois Six Nations.

"American Imitation  ( )

"The American Nation when it was first established showed a great imitation to the practices of the indigenous councils. The first American Government, the Articles of Confederation, was a closer match to the Iroquois method than to British Parliament. This document allowed for a loose union of 13 independent states, much like the Iroquois union of six independent Nations. All decisions made had to be unanimous, which though effective for the Natives, failed for the states.

The Articles also reflected the lack of judiciary that the Iroquois government possessed. There was little if any interstate accountability, much as there was little between the nations, as long as the Great Law was followed. No executive power existed within this system, either, much like that of the Iroquois."

"This admiration influenced the Founding Fathers greatly as they drafted the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, in this piece, substituted "happiness" for "property" in the Locke-inspired trio of beliefs that he espoused. Johansen, in this book, points to his Iroquois experience as the catalyst to this change in wording, not any elitist motive. Jefferson was honestly motivated, he proposes, by the ideal that happiness was attainable through liberty and simplicity, such as that practiced by the American Indian."

But these were mere human beings, too.   Current thinking about the people on Mesa Verde suggests that they had deforested their land and over farmed it, leaving heavy erosion, wildfires (not unlike today, up there), and a depleted water table.  In a way, it was useful to hear this story the last time I was there, since it reminded me that these people weren't altogether different from us.  

I set out a vision of a post-oil vacation (in a motor home, no less!) last year.  I think Alan from Big Easy would like that one.

Air travel is a tougher nut, but we have a couple of options for that too:

  1. Make F-T jet fuel from biomass, and aircraft with 50:1 lift/drag ratios so we can afford to fly them.
  2. Make hydrogen from whatever source and make something more conventional-looking but with much bulkier fuel tanks

Ocean cruises can be done via sail or use something like DCFC's burning charcoal.  It'll all look different, but there seems to be no inherent reason why it can't be done.
Use that Hydrogen for Blimps!
Pumps go dry at some gas stations

..."There is truly a dearth of supply in the Philly and New York markets today," Wayne Hummel, of Liberty Petroleum L.L.C., said yesterday. His firm supplies 40 stations in the Philadelphia region.

Hummel said four Liberty stations had run out of fuel the last two days, as tanker trucks drove from terminal to terminal, unable to find fuel. "It's ugly. It's very ugly," he said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic warned drivers yesterday that gasoline-supply disruptions could continue for the next few weeks and contribute to higher pump prices.

The group said the average gasoline price in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs had climbed 52 cents a gallon - or 22 percent - to $2.85 since the most recent upturn began on March 7. In South Jersey, yesterday's average was $2.71 a gallon, an 18 percent increase from a month ago. A key benchmark price for crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday was $71.95 a barrel, up more than $10 from a month ago.

Hell, it's $2.85 across the street, and as far as I know we don't have an MTBE problem here in TX.

(I love the image of tanker trucks cruising from terminal to terminal, burning precious fuel to find product that isn't there.  That is so... 70's.  Don't they have communications?  Wireless internet? Even a pay phone?)

I should clarify.. I've been looking around and perhaps the MTBE switch is required in "major cities" in Texas, but now there I live.  We don't have any of the pollution control requirements that say Dallas or Houston have.  But I suppose it could be affecting the supply of gasoline statewide, but I certainly have not seen any closed gas stations, unlike during the Rita Escape Debacle of 2005, when we went for days with dry pumps because everyone panicked and hit the road.
How valid is this argument? Is it simply corporate greed driving this current spike in prices?

I specifically addressed this report a couple of days ago:

Another Uninformed Consumer Watchdog

I had entitled it "Another Clueless Consumer Watchdog", but I am trying to stay away from inflammatory language. :) It seems that he is just another guy who doesn't understand economics.


Thanks, Robert, for the quick response. That was a good little essay that I passed on to the person, a peak oil non-believer frantically searching for someone or something to blame for the current status of things, and who passed the original on to me.
"Another Clueless Consumer Watchdog"

  It is what it is. What is that old saying:
 You can put lipstick on a pig, dress it up in a little black dress and heels, and call it a hot babe. But all you really have is a pig in drag.

Perhaps this is not the original quote, but nevertheless I liken it to something along the lines of:
  You can put a lot of bling on a gas guzzler, trick it out with a leather interior and chrome wheels, and call it a great ride. But all you really have is a gas guzzler.

Subkommander Dred

The version I heard was that 'You can train a pig like a thoroughbred all it's life, and you still won't have a thorobred'..  'Yeah, but you'll have one fast Pig!'
                  Steinbeck  'East of Eden'

.. and they looked into the house, where the Pigs and the Men were making their deals, and they could no longer tell one from the other.
(Is that how it ends? I haven't read it in years..)

Ad Astra, per Alia Porci (to the stars, on the wings of a Pig)

Some Pig...

Hello Costa Rica Johns,

After reading your link:  Since oil companies are international concerns, it would only make sense for them to spread the painful accounting cost of ethanol to as many people as possible.  The legislated disparities between WA & CA fuels as explained in table #2 should probably result in a $0.35/gallon or more pricing difference between these states if strict geographical accounting is applied.  So, in effect CA gasoline laws are screwing the WA car-owners.  I would expect OR, if charted, would have a similar CA ethanol pricing effect.

The oil companies are probably 'rolling up' the increased CA cost/gallon into the WA, and other States prices to try and normalize prices as far as they legally can according to accounting rules.  Otherwise the price distortion on either side of a States' boundary line can really screw up how far and where consumers will drive to save on gas purchases.  Kinda like people crossing a stateline to buy a lottery ticket that they cannot purchase in-state.  My two cents.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

....improved ethanol processing yields (2.50 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn in 1980, compared with 2.85 gallons per bushel today...

this does not still seem very energy efficient. 9.3 gallons of dry corn (1 bushell) gotta have a lot more caloric value than 2.85 gallons of ethanol.

I wonder what's new with the making of ethanol from cellulose ( last I know is that a Canadian company started such a plant 1-2 years ago). one could harvest the whole corn plant ( and whatnot- every plant has cellulose in significant amounts)and convert a whole lot more of that bio-carbon into fuel.

Corn is a poor choice of feedstock for ethanol.

I suspect that corn talk is a result of ADM, Monsanto, and Cargill exerting political influence. Had this exchange with a friend on another site...

Soybeans ~40 gal/acre
Corn ~60 gal/acre
Mustard ~140 gal/acre
Jatropha~160 gal/acre
PalmOil ~650 gal/acre

algae 10-20000 gal/acre

Do a google on GreenFuel Technologies Corp ..
They've got a continuous bioreactor going commercial ..

The 'algae' folks claim that all motor fuels and
heating oil can be replaced with the equivalent of
500,000 acres of closed-loop algae production ..
who knows .. Ford also looked at Mustard plants as
a source of biofuel back in the day ..

and my answer, re hemp...

Hemp is a viable source of woody biomass, no deforestation necessary. In fact, while an acre of trees is about 60% cellulose, and acre of hemp is nearly 75%. How much hemp is necessary to meet current US energy needs? Somewhere between 10 million and 90 million acres, depending on how efficient the production is. Every year, the US government pays farmers (in cash or "kind") to not farm what they call the "soil bank", which happens to be about 90 million acres of farmland. The math is pretty simple.

Hemp seed oil is very similar to petroleum diesel fuel, and produces full engine power with reduced carbon monoxide and 75% less soot and particulates. Hemp stalk (different than the part that can make paper and textiles) can be converted into 500 gallons of methanol/acre. US energy consumption is responsible for 80% of the world's air pollution. The use of hemp biomass fuel would be a globally responsible evolution.

Hemp as Biomass for Energy

Tim Castleman

© Fuel and Fiber Company, 2001

Industrial hemp can be grown in most climates and on marginal soils. It requires little or no herbicide and no pesticide, and uses less water than cotton. Measurements at Ridgetown College indicate the crop needs 300-400 mm (10-13 in.) of rainfall equivalent. Yields will vary according to local conditions and will range from 1.5 to 6 bone dry tons of biomass per acre. California's rich croplands and growing environment are expected to increase yields by 20% over Canadian results, which will average at least 3.9 bone dry tons per acre.

Hemp seed oil for BioDiesel

Production of oil

Grown for oilseed, Canadian grower's yields average 1 tonne/hectare, or about 400 lbs. per acre. Cannabis seed contains about 28% oil (112 lbs.), or about 15 gallons per acre. Production costs using these figures would be about $35 per gallon. Some varieties are reported to yield as much as 38% oil, and a record 2,000 lbs. per acre was recorded in 1999. At that rate, 760 lbs.of oil per acre would result in about 100 gallons of oil, with production costs totaling about $5.20 gallon. Sales of the remaining stalk material at $72 per ton will provide another source of income. It is estimated that a crop grown for both seed and fiber will produce about 3 tons of stalk, which is selling for about $72 per ton, resulting in a $216 per acre credit. This will reduce the cost of the oil to about $3 per gallon. Further reductions will accrue as the agronomic knowledge base is enlarged, and economies of scale are realized, lowering production costs while improving yields.

This oil could be used as-is in modified diesel engines, or be converted to biodiesel using a relatively simple, automated process. Several systems are under development worldwide designed to produce biodiesel on a small scale, such as on farms using "homegrown" oil crops.

Production of Bio-Diesel

Basically methyl esters, or biodiesel, as it is commonly called, can be made from any oil or fat, including hemp seed oil. The reaction requires only oil, an alcohol (usually methanol) and a catalyst (usually sodium hydroxide [NaOH, or drain cleaner]). The reaction produces only biodiesel and a smaller amount of glycerol or glycerin.

The costs of materials needed for the reaction are the costs associated with production of hemp seed oil, the cost of methanol and the NaOH. In the instances where waste vegetable oil, or WVO, is used, the cost for oil is of course, free. Typically methanol costs about $2 per gallon and NaOH costs about $5 per 500g or about $0.01 per gram. For a typical 17-gallon batch of biodiesel, you would start with 14 gallons of hemp seed oil; add to that 15% by volume of alcohol (or 2.1 gallons) and about 500g of NaOH. The process takes about 2 hours to complete and requires about 2000 watts of energy. That works out to about 2kw/hr or about $0.10 of energy (assuming $0.05 per kw/hr). So the total cost per gallon of biodiesel is $? (oil) + 2.1 x $2 (methanol) + $5 (NaOH) + $0.10 (energy) / 14 gallons = $0.66 per gallon, plus the cost of the oil.

Hemp Cellulose for Ethanol

Another approach will involve conversion of cellulose to ethanol, which can be done in several ways including gasification, acid hydrolysis and a technology utilizing engineered enzymes to convert cellulose to glucose, which is then fermented to make alcohol. Still another approach using enzymes will convert cellulose directly to alcohol, which leads to substantial process cost savings.

Current costs associated with these conversion processes are about $1.37 per gallon of fuel produced, plus the cost of the feedstock. Of this $1.37, enzyme costs are about $0.50 per gallon; current research efforts are directed toward reduction of this amount to $0.05 per gallon. There is a Federal tax credit of $0.54 per gallon and a number of other various incentives available. Conversion rates range from a low of 25-30 gallons per ton of biomass to 100 gallons per ton using the latest technology.

In 1998 the total California gasoline demand was 14 billion gallons. When ethanol is used to replace MTBE as an oxygenate, this will create California demand in excess of 700 million gallons per year. MTBE is to be phased out of use by 2003 according to State law.

In this case we can consider biomass production from a much broader perspective. Sources of feedstock under consideration for these processes are:

We will address these in turn and show why a dedicated energy crop holds important potential for ethanol production in California, why hemp is a good candidate as a dedicated energy crop, and how it may represent the fastest track to meeting 34% of California's upcoming ethanol market demand of at least 580-750 million gallons per year.

I'm still looking for BTU figures, and petrochemical and water inputs for the various biocrops. I'm also thinking about a weed called teasel, since I'm hacking down plants taller than me in the garden. Problem is, that it is a biennial.But, in Cal,you can walk on it for a year, and then it shoots up during late winter/ early spring, right when fields get planted. Maybe in the rows?
There is currently a hemp industry bill in the Calif. lege.
Problem I have pushing hemp is everybody says "But it will seed my crop." :-)

Algae appears to be the best.

10-20,000 gals/ acre yields claimed


interting. Why farmers would not want to plant hemp instead of corn? And why there is subsidies given for more traditional ethanol plants when the cellulose bacterial fermentation into thanol will be a more efficient way to go?

well, I know. as always special interest gets uncle's Sam money first.


I've been saying it since I've been here.

Conservation coupled with biofuels made from Dedicated Energy Crops i.e. HEMP is how we will mitigate the effects of PEAK OIL.

The figures I've seen for corn are ~390,000 BTU/bushel, and ethanol is about 78,000 BTU/gallon (lower heating value, I suspect).  That makes the raw conversion about 57% efficient, but then you have to add distillation energy.  One figure from the last 90's I saw was 34,000 BTU/gallon (this may have improved), so the total input (corn plus distillation fuel) would be 486,900 BTU per bushel (45.7% efficiency).

It would make more sense to burn corn in corn stoves to displace natural gas for heating fuel, then use the natural gas as CNG to run vehicles.

I was just watching CNN Headline News and they were talking about people pawning their jewelry to afford gasoline.  They then went across the road to a gas station and asked some people what they thought about these prices.

The people were clueless replying with the standard "We need to get off foreign oil and start producing oil here, we need to starting drilling in Alaska!".  They just don't get it.

Last week I was in a station and the guy behind me at the cash register said something about how he couldn't wait for all these middle east problems to be over so we can get back to $1 /gal gasoline.  I told him "good luck" its all up, up, and away from here to the very end.

The look of total fear was worrysome.

From WSJ today (pay site) on the "horrors" of using mass transit:

Highway Construction Forces Chicagoans Off Road

CHICAGO -- Ann Schue used to cherish the time she spent alone in her 2003 Ford Expedition during her 90-minute morning commute to her job at the University of Chicago. Nestled in heated leather seats, she planned her day while listening to the news.

Not anymore. Massive construction work on one of Chicago's main highways has forced her to trade the peace of her sport-utility vehicle for the clatter and crowds of a double-decker commuter train.

"This was a very, very big step for me," says Ms. Schue, 42 years old, who had never been on a train in her life before she recently started taking the Metra rail service. "I'm still very...," she says, choking up, then pausing to compose herself. "I miss my car."

Chicago is the rare Midwestern city with pervasive mass transit, including buses, elevated trains and regional commuter rail. But it's also typically Midwestern in that many residents so love their vehicles that they'd rather sit in traffic burning up $2.99-a-gallon gasoline than go near a bus stop or train platform.

Less-Than-Hopeful Pessimist today...

Chicago suburbanites are total babies, god forbid they have to take the blue line in from Schaumberg and ride with immigrants!

My sister lives in the city and when I come to visit I NEVER take a car or get picked up.  If I fly to Midway I drag my suitcase to the orange line and ride to the loop, same thing with the blue line from O'Hare.

I can't tell you how many time I've sat back on the "L" with my headphones and a magazine while I pass mile after mile of congested highway traffic. Idiots.

"I'm still very...," she says, choking up, then pausing to compose herself. "I miss my car."

Wow.  I didn't know the Journal did those touching 'Hearts and Minds', Human interest pieces.  I feel so, so violated!

There are some folks at my church that get this worked up over losing a REALLY beloved cat, but even then, I feel like I'm being a little 'tolerant'.  

This feels like Journalism more appropriate for COPS or THE REAL WORLD..

Thing is, when I took the N/R in from Queens, or the F from Brooklyn, or the MetroNorth from Rye.. that's when I WAS able to either read, think about the day's plan, or maybe finish up an incomplete night's rest.  When I drove myself, I arrived irritable, tense, often without having done my last bits of homework. But that's me.

  They made sure to paint that Chicago train as a real slummy option, didn't they?

Welcome aboard, Honey!