Peak Oil News: ODOT'S PEAK AT THE FUTURE - State report forecasts the end of cheap oil - and it could be soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

ODOT'S PEAK AT THE FUTURE - State report forecasts the end of cheap oil - and it could be soon.

Willamette Week Online


In theory, there are few things less terrifying than an Oregon Department of Transportation report detailing a pilot program to tax motorists by mileage driven.

But tucked into the 55-page report on the possibility of trading taxes by the gallon for taxes by the mile (see "Back-Seat Big Brother," May 25, 2005) is one passage that-if you like highway travel and the American Way of Life-is more than a little frightening.

"Some petroleum industry experts predict that before 2010 the world production of conventional oil will crest and enter a permanent decline," the report states under the heading "Peak Oil."

Peak oil is the theory that, due to a finite supply of petroleum, the world's production must soon fall.

With rising gas prices and China's growing petroleum demand, peak oil has become an increasingly hot topic. Books and websites declare the end of the oil era, while Big Oil says the peak could be at least 100 years away.

The ODOT report released this month takes a more pessimistic tone. "There's no controversy over the idea of a peak," says the report's author, James Whitty. "The question is: When will it happen?"

After the peak, the report says, increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles will render the 24-cent-per gallon gas tax useless to fund road repairs. (Read the report at

What the report doesn't address is the theory's bleaker side: Competition for dwindling oil reserves could lead to nuclear war, economic catastrophe or-if you're a real pessimist-the end of civilization. By then, potholes might be the last thing on people's minds.


At 1:49 PM, July 28, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't they tax vehicles according to the weight of the vehicle, like in some other countries (Italy, for example). It's clear that heavier cars and trucks damage roads more than light cars, and therefore, should pay more. The mileage tax would be unfair to owhers of light (energy more efficient) cars.


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