Sustainable Energy Forum 2006, Washington DC, 7-9 May 06

We have mentioned it a few times already, but I want to remind TOD readers in the Washington DC corridor of the Sustainable Energy Forum 2006 on Peak Oil and the Environment to be held May 7-9 at Washington, DC's Marvin Center.  A letter from one of the organizers is under the fold.  This will be a big deal...(and rumour has it that a couple of TOD editors may attend, though this rumour is yet to be confirmed).
Peak Oil is one of many limitations soon to be facing the planet.  Once production of conventional crude peaks, we increasingly as a society will have to make choices between maintaining our energy supply, or choosing policies that increase the impact on climate and decrease environmental health.

This conference in our nations capital is bringing together leading scientists and thinkers to address NGOs, decisionmakers and private citizens on how these challenges are linked, and what sort of frameworks can affect change.

The opening evening (May 7) will begin with cocktail and hors'doevres reception with talks by Bill McKibben and Roger Bezdek followed by audience Q&A.

Monday morning will be about production and geological constraints. Talks from Roscoe Bartlett, Michael Klare, Kenneth Deffeyes will be followed by a panel discussion led by Richard Heinberg.

Monday afternoon will be about the demand challenges facing the planet, including planetary sinks and population. William Catton, Lester Brown and NASA's James Hansen will each speak followed by a discussion and a talk by ecological economist Robert Costanza, on a Sustainable Energy Framework.

During dinner, a speech on renewable fuel by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer will be followed by a 'town meeting' type open discussion with Joseph Tainter, David Blittersdorf, Ken Deffeyes, Cutler Cleveland and others.

Tuesday, we will address the 'opportunities' available to face the peaking in energy. The Minister of Sustainable Development from Sweden, Mona Sahlin, will discuss Swedens announcement to become petroleum free by 2020. We will then hear talks on how to appropriately compare new energy technologies from a panel of experts, including NRDC's Dan Lashof, Cutler Cleveland, Charles Hall, and David Pimentel.

In the afternoon, we will address opportunities for reduction in energy demand. Julian Darley of Post Carbon Institute will moderate a panel of Herman Daly, Richard Heinberg (who will present The Oil Depletion Protocol), Pat Murphy of Community Solutions and others.

We hope to have significant media coverage of this event, and expand the message of the linkages between peak oil and the environment to a broader audience. Please join us in what looks to be a controversial and watershed event in Washington DC. Registration details and other conference information is at

It sounds interesting, but for those of us already peak-oil aware, it doesn't seem worth the while to plunk down the 250$ and take off two days from work.

I look forward to hearing about it though.

Oil Drum readers get in at half price...;)
Before the Denver Conference I felt much the same way, and in fact about a year ago had a bit of a negative post on the meeting in Scotland, that I did not go to.  

But I did go to the Denver meeting (which cost a bit more than just the entry fee since I live somewhere else).  There was much more to learn than I had thought (some of which then appeared here) and there were people to meet and debate, which changed some of my thinking.  I expect that this will be very much the same, and the papers themselves will be only a part of the value of the meeting.

There are times I go to meetings and sit through very few papers, but I still get a lot from them - in this case I think both will be of value, though we will see.

Thanks - that helps quite a bit, and I might just go ahead and attend.

For me, the only real cost is the entry fee and subway fare.  I live in the area, so no air or hotel would be involved.

Any possibility of sliding me in as a speaker on my "Electrification of Transportation" concept.

I want to promote this more widely (I think it has merit as a way to reduce US oil consumption by 10% in ten to twelve years).

Perhaps, if not formally, passing out copies of my paper and after hours discussions ?


Alan- You'd be great as a speaker. (at least, I like your ideas quite a bit). We have 24 people speaking in 2+ days and its going to be whirlwind as it is. We actually cant quite fit in everyone we'd like to, but there's always 2007, Peak Oil willing and the creeks dont rise..
Any CHEAP hotels in the DC area close to a Metro station ?

I want stay several days (despite missing weekend #2 of JazzFest).

It depends on your definition of 'cheap', and your definition of 'close'.

Typically anything directly adjacent to a station is going to be more expensive.  The ones downtown are going to be quite pricey, and the ones further out tend to be cheaper.

Close - Within 1 mile (walking distance) of a rail stop.

Perhaps Baltimore and commute from there ?

Hopefully, about $100/night, or less.

Find station addresses on and compare them to the hotel addresses on Expedia:

These are all suburban at or near the end of the metro lines:  Super 8 College Park is $70/night. Comfort Inn in Landover is $75/night.  Red Roof in Springfield is $78.50/night.  New Carrollton Hotel is $79/night.  Comfort Inn Shady Grove is $99/night, but I know you need a car to get to Shady Grove station.

Super 8 Downtown DC near Gallaudet College for $86/night.  It got a poor rating, but you could take a metrobus to the New York Avenue metro station, which is half a mile away.

Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

I am all in favor of your electrification efforts for the railroads and building mass-transit.  If it is too late for you to be a speaker, your idea of handing out papers is excellent, but if you can distribute the same info in 'burned' CD/DVDs in a Powerpoint format it will be even more effective.  The viewers can then go to the related websites for data-mining the finer detail. Good luck!

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

Hello Alan,

Checkout this EnergyBulletin link:

Chris Miller is running on a Peakoil platform!

Some of his comments: "We need to kick this growth habit before it is too late, while Maine still has the strength of community and rural infrastructure to do it with thought and grace," he states in a campaign letter. "Every day the sun shines on 21 million acres of Maine. That is our energy income.

Rather than send Maine's National Guard to another war to find the cheap energy and natural resources that feed this growth, Miller said he would call the Guard back here to lay rails to build an interurban railroad, if the steel is available.

Alan, here is your entree' for railroading--He will need an expert on his staff to explain the advantages, costs, savings, and building timeframes to sell to the public.  Go for it--email him now.

Another article excerpt: "Miller talks in environmental terms about bioregions, or regions sharing a common geography, culture and climate, such as Casco Bay and the St. John Valley."

This sounds to me like he understands the need to build large and distinct sustainable biosolar habitats just as I have speculated about in numerous postings.  After the soldiers finish building the railroads they can be transformed into the initial vanguard of Earthmarines to keep the hapless detritovores from invading postPeak.

The following links illustrate the growing political movements in New England to secede from the Union.  If they can join hands with Peakoilers and biosolar survivalists tremendous progress towards Powerdown can be achieved: df

I think the growing drive for secession is directly related to the growing revulsion to infinite growth, environmental degradation, and ever-rising detritus prices.  Everyone in the US should be encouraging the secession drive of the NE & NW areas of the country.

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

Once production of conventional crude peaks, we increasingly as a society will have to make choices between maintaining our energy supply, or choosing policies that increase the impact on climate and decrease environmental health.
This seems like a reference to coal and tar sands. But it's not an either/or, it's an if/must. It's not on one hand we have maintaining our energy supply, and on the other hand we have environmentally problematic energy sources.  It's that we must pursue environmentally problematic energy sources if we are to continue to maintain our energy supply.
Those tradeoffs are what need to be discussed. Some would argue that we can reduce our demand and meet such reduced demand with sustainable biofuels. I am not such a person, but I do strongly urge that an apples and apples framework be circulated so that decisionmakers dont rush pell mell into an energy scheme that gives us an immediate boost with a long term noose.

Possible wave of the future?  What do you think?  Have you heard anything about this?  Info has been trickling down to me in the last few days that this might be something to pay attention to.  Any thoughts?

I think that propane is a really interesting source of energy.  It's an exceptional energy when you think about.  Especially looking at the way it was utilized during the fallout from Hurricane Katrina.  Propane is high energy that is reliable, and it is rather portable because of the way you can transport cylinders of it and be able to run just about anything.


You do realize that propane is a fossil fuel? That it is subject to peak as well?

Go to Life After the Oil Crash and read the home page; that should answer your questions.

There is also a "Petrocollapse" event in DC on May 6th.  Here is a link to info.
The Petrocollapse Conference

It would be quite a week to do both...
-Matt, DC

yeah, I don't know what their deal is.  They've never asked us to promote that, which we would have done (just as we are with this one).
The PetroCollapse Conference did not include TOD as one of their links.  They seem to be all "Fast Doomers" and are more interested in what to do "after" than mitigate beforehand.  (They do mention a discussion of "Plan B", is there a good way out ?  Why is that "Plan A" ?).

The consensus at TOD is that there is a way out, if we just appointed a wise Engineer-King :-P (apologies to Plato).

The consensus at TOD is that there is a way out, if we just appointed a wise Engineer-King :-P (apologies to Plato).

I didn't know that the consensus of TOD'er believe there is a "way out" of this fine mess we got ourselves into??  With all the headlines of a future with less oil on the horizon, what exactly would be a way out??  Are the majority of TOD'er in denial about the consequences that less oil will have on our fabric of life?? Or are most TOD'er sitting in their ivory tower's "wishing and praying" that the world will continue along its pathetic path of evironmental destruction if we just switch of biofuels??   I would like to know when this so called consensus was arrived at??  

I don't think we can say that there's a consensus here either.  In fact, I think we're just trying to get a handle on the uncertainty and how it will affect people's lives.  

There are things we can do as a society, yes, to soften the blow.  A man on the moon mission re: alternatives, etc., etc.  

Until I see people and/or government changing, I think some doomerosity is justified.  How much doomerosity is justified?  I think we can always debate that.

I was referring to a technically possible solution that would maintain society in recognizable form and a decent quality of life.

A almost completely renewable electricity grid is possible technically and economically in the US (Hawaii is a problem) and I have outlined what one solution might be.

Likewise, a WW II Swiss level of oil consumption would require massive investments in electrified transportation infrastructure (which the Swiss continue to build today with two train tunnels/routes under the Alps to displace heavy trucks hauling freight over the Alps with 250 kph pax service as a bonus), changed housing patterns and probably social changes as well.  All of Switzerland got by in 1945 with the oil that the US uses today in 19 minutes.

Yet Switzerland was a stable democracy with a decent quality of life during WW II.  Lots of walking and bicycling though.

However, the political structure (and social) is the problem, not technology.  Thus my "tongue in cheek" solution of an Engineer-King.

Looking at the list of topics on the link I see no mention of population or the disparity of energy use between rich and poor. This could change the emphasis of the forum; for example  not how much biofuel can be produced in the year 2020 but how many people will be able to drive a car.
Quadrant II, Monday afternoon will deal with the 'demand' problem and include discussion on population (William Catton wrote the book "Overshoot". Pimental will also mention agricultural tradeoffs between energy and more people means more demand for food.

Equity (along with net energy and environment) is one of the main threads of the conference. Jack Santa-Barbara, one of our organizers, has set up a workshop the day after the conference in an attempt to start a grass roots Energy Futures Protocol, with key NGOs, social justice organizations etc.  

While equity is key to ecological sustainability, there is only so much you can say/frame/educate in 2 days. Everything is linked - most people we've met with just dont see the linkages clearly, yet.

But it is happening, quite rapidly for a normal world, though perhaps too slow based on Hirsh Report.

Incidentally, the equity piece is not something I understood until recently. Human nature precludes true equity of course, so what we're talking about it more equity than we have now, and more even access to basic needs. If we currently are at 20% of people have 80% of resources and we go to 5% of people have 95% of resources, those 95% are a) going to be very angry and unstable so that the 5% wont be able to enjoy their expected gains and b)the 95% will use whatever means they can, chopping down rainforests, burning tires, killing animals for bush-meat,etc to survive, which accelerates ecosystem loss.

It really is one big puzzle that points to being happier with less energy  as a main objective of Peak Oil.

RIP Jane Jacobs.
A beautiful writer and activist.  Everyone should gO out and read (or re-read) The Death and Life of Great American Cities.  Her visions of thriving urbanism will prove important lessons in a post-peak world.
She really deserves her own thread.
well said HLB.  well said indeed.
Many say we will see $3.50/gal this summer.  If you factor in Iran, who knows how high it could go. Everyone knows America MUST get off the oil.  After September 11, 2001 I expected our President to call on Americans to GET OFF THE OIL.  I was expecting a speech like the one JFK gave that motivated us to reach for the moon. As you know, this never happened.  Eventually I realized that the only way this is going to happen is for us to do it ourselves.  To that end I created this idea and have been trying to make it a reality..

The EPA is offering a research grant opportunity that I believe is a perfect fit for this idea.  I have sent an e-mail to a hand picked list of university professors who have experience with government research projects.  I'm looking to form a research team to apply for the EPA grant, conduct a social-economic experiment and surveys to determine to what extent the American public will support it, project the economic potential of WPH, and identify logistical, social and political obstacles as well as opportunities.

All government grants are awarded based on merit of the proposed research.  I believe WPH has merit but your help is needed to verify it. You can help by posting your feedback.  Let the professors and the EPA know what you think about WPH.  Do you think this idea is worth pursuing? We need to know if Americans will support a plan like this.

Do you have any ideas to improve the plan?

Share any and all of your thoughts.

Tell your friends and family about this Blog post and ask them to post their thoughts on WPH

Thank you


Egads! Our conference link has been spammed by Japanese porn!!
Peak liquid fuels must be nigh....