Peak Oil: Everything is going to change
By Connecticut State Rep. Terry Backer
There is little government can do about the price of oil. That is not what people want to hear. Yet it is a fact. The U.S. government and all the states have no "Plan B." They continue to rely on a delusional "Plan A" — more oil and cheaper oil all the time. Politicians, generally asleep at the wheel on this issue, have been shocked into trying to do something about the current and future problems arising from oil costs. They are spinning around looking for someone to blame, dazed by the precipitous rise from $50 per barrel last January to $126 this past week.
In an election year, members of Congress are beating the bushes trying to escape the fallout of their years of dozing in their seats. They point at speculation, greedy profit takers or big oil companies, perhaps all true to one extent or another. However, despite the rising chorus of voices pointing out rising demand coinciding with falling or flat production, they seem to be ignoring the 800-pound gorilla in the room that is "Peak Oil" production. Just a few years ago, Mexico, Russia, Norway, England and Indonesia were producing vast amounts of oil for the world market. Today, England and Indonesia are net importers of oil, Russia's production is flat, Norway's production is falling and Mexico has informed us that their giant oil field, Canterall, is in terminal decline and may not be able to export after 2015.
Neither drilling in Alaska, the continental shelf or other ultra-deep-water sites will change the trends of less and more expensive oil. Only changing our infrastructure and consumption patterns will preserve somewhat our current lifestyle.
Connecticut broke out of the pack this month to become the first state in the country to make a major step forward in planning for the increasingly high cost and reduced availability of petroleum. With only 15 minutes remaining until the end of the 2008 General Assembly session, the state Senate approved by unanimous consent and sent to Gov. M. Jodi Rell the "Energy Scarcity and Security" bill.
The measure requires the state to develop a planning scenario model that will predict impacts based on the price of oil. The model will predict future impacts on heating, transportation, food cost, road paving, fleet operations, education, public health I think you get the idea. The outputs of the model will guide us in formulating Plans B, C and D for the state.
The model won't make more oil or cheaper oil; it will reveal to us the impacts on our citizens and our state before they happen. It will allow the Legislature and municipal governments to reprioritize what is possible and what is not.
Thanks to the members of the Connecticut Legislative Peak Oil and Natural Gas Caucus, state government opened its eyes for a quick peek into the future. A small awareness has begun in the Legislature, but it is not an understanding. The public now must educate itself about the issues of oil supply and help lead its government to make the changes that will surely be painful, but needed.
State Rep. Terry Backer is co-founder of the Connecticut Peak Oil and Natural Gas Caucus and a member of the General Assembly's Energy and Technologies Committee. He represents Stratford's 121st Assembly District.