City Accepting Public Comment on Peak Oil Report
The City of Portland's Peak Oil Task Force has released a draft report and is accepting public comments until February 12, 2007. The draft report, titled "Descending the Oil Peak: Navigating the Transition from Oil and Natural Gas," is available at
"The Task Force findings illustrate the enormous economic and social vulnerabilities and opportunities that could result as fuel supplies cease to be abundant and inexpensive," said Task Force Chair Bill Scott. "The magnitude of this issue led the Task Force to explore far-reaching solutions. Our lead recommendation is that Portland cut its oil and natural gas use in half over the next 25 years."
The Task Force is a citizen advisory group established by City Council in May 2006 from a resolution brought forward by Commissioner Dan Saltzman. Commissioner Saltzman was acting on behalf of the grassroots group Portland Peak Oil who had been circulating a petition for the creation of a city task force. In preparing its report, the Peak Oil Task Force held over 40 meetings and involved dozens of policymakers, experts, and stakeholders.
The Task Force's recommendations address rising oil and natural gas prices on two different levels. Most of the recommendations seek to reduce Portland's exposure to rising fuel prices, anticipating the economic and lifestyle adjustments that will be needed in the future. Other recommendations prepare Portland to maintain community stability as volatile energy markets trigger conditions ranging from emergency shortages to longer-term economic and social disruption.
Two public forums will be held during the comment period, with dates, times, and locations posted at http://www.portlandonline.com/osd/index.cfm?c=42894 as soon as details are available. Comments from the public are strongly encouraged both at the forums and as written comments. Comments may be submitted on-line at the same website or by e-mail and hard copy to the Office of Sustainable Development.
The Peak Oil Task Force will consider all comments received by February 12, 2007, as it revises its report to City Council.
The Portland Office of Sustainable Development (OSD) brings together community partners to promote a healthy and prosperous future for Portland. OSD advances improvements and innovation in renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste disposal, recycling, high-performance green building practices, food systems, and sustainable purchasing. OSD implements programs, policies and partnerships that are key to community health, economic and environmental opportunities for Portland, its businesses and residents.
For more information on the Task Force and its report please visit
The following are a few excerpts from the Executive Summary:
Introduction: Preparing for Peak Oil
Every day, businesses, government agencies and households around the world plan and make decisions based on the assumption that oil and natural gas will remain plentiful and affordable. In the past few years, powerful evidence has emerged that casts doubt on that assumption and suggests that global production of both oil and natural gas is likely to reach its historic peak soon. This phenomenon is referred to as "peak oil." Given both the continuous rise in global demand for these products and the fundamental role they play in all levels of social, economic and geopolitical activities, the consequences of such an event are enormous. This report assesses Portland's vulnerabilities in the face of wide-ranging changes in global energy markets and provides an initial set of recommendations for addressing that challenge thoughtfully and prudently.
...Unemployment could be a major economic and social issue. This is of particular concern, since social services are already stretched to their limits. Vulnerable and marginalized populations are likely to grow and will be the first and hardest hit by rising oil prices. Increasing costs and decreasing incomes will reduce health coverage and further stress the health care system, a system already in crisis. Heating, maintenance, and monthly housing costs will consume a larger share of household budgets and push people toward lower-quality housing choices at the same time that auto transportation costs increase dramatically. First responders, especially police, are likely to be further taxed as social service agencies struggle to meet demand.
Recommendations: Act Big, Act Now
The Task Force findings illustrate the profound economic and social vulnerabilities that could result as fuel supplies cease to be abundant and inexpensive. The magnitude of this issue led the Task Force to explore bold and far-reaching solutions. The Task Force is unified in urging strong and immediate action.
Reduce Portland's exposure:
The Task Force proposes cutting oil and natural gas consumption in half, transforming how energy is used in transportation, food supply, buildings and manufacturing. It proposes strategies to maintain business viability and employment in an energy-constrained marketplace.
Strengthen community cohesion:
However well Portland succeeds in its energy transition, it will not be able to isolate itself from global energy crises or the resulting economic implications. The Task Force sees the potential for profound economic hardship and high levels of unemployment, and it recommends having plans in place to adapt social and economic support systems accordingly. Similarly, contingency plans are needed for fuel shortages that may last for several weeks, well beyond the time considered in existing emergency plans.
The Task Force recommends a comprehensive package of actions, proposing strategies to initiate institutional change and to motivate action by households and businesses. Of these recommendations, the first and most fundamental is to reduce oil and natural gas use by 50 percent over the next 25 years..
While all the recommendations are important, achieving a significant reduction in oil and natural gas use is a necessity for easing the transition to an energy-constrained future.
More information about Peak Oil can be found at http://portlandpeakoil.org/cs
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