The Oil Drum: New York City

Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Short Comment to DOT Commissioner

In looking on the Department of Transportation (DOT) website on alternative fuel programs, I was somewhat heartened to see oil depletion as a reason, but as I read further it became increasingly obvious that they have little sense of urgency around the issue. Here is the part about oil depletion:

Running Out of Oil
Transportation is the main reason that the U.S. currently depends so heavily on crude oil. Most of this oil is imported from foreign countries and the major source of foreign crude oil is the Persian Gulf (this region provides one-fourth of the world’s current consumption of oil and nearly two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves). Due to supply depletion and distribution instability, reliance on this fossil fuel must end. Oil is a finite resource, which means that its supply is limited and cannot be reproduced. It took millions of years for these oil reserves to accumulate and we have used them up in less than two hundred years! It is estimated that the current known reserves of oil on Earth will only be able to supply total world demand for the next 40 years. When these reserves are completely exhausted we will have to use alternative fuel sources. In the short-term future, there are alternative reserves available. Southwestern Russia, Eastern Canada and other countries have short-term (up to 30 years world supply) oil reserves. However, for the long-term, it is important to start planning as to what we will do when these finite supplies are exhausted.

This is the type of simplistic analysis of the oil depletion issue that has caused a relative degree of complacency and incremental approaches that will not make much of a dent in the short term.

The DOT has a comment area to the Commissioner, Iris Weinshall. I sent this short comment to her (only 150 words allowed):

Dear Commissioner Weinshall
I appreciate the numerous efforts you have made to extend alternative fuel vehicles in NYC. However this program needs to be greatly accelerated. On the DOT website it says that we have 30-40 years before oil supply cannot meet demand. However according to many oil experts, including Matthew Simmons, author of "Twilight in the Desert" and Paul Roberts "The End of Oil" we probably have less then five years before oil peaks. At this point, supply will continuously decline and prices will skyrocket. What is NYC's plan for $100/barrel oil? $200/barrel oil? How would NYC ration gasoline or home heating oil? Action is required at all levels of government to address this issue. I urge you to learn about this issue and take urgent action to make NYC less dependent on oil products.

Please send a copy of this or write your own email to Commissioner Weinshall and educate her about peak oil.

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