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Portland establishes task force on peak oil

The threat of a peak in global oil supplies has received official attention from the City of Portland. A resolution to create a task force to investigate implications of peak oil was passed by City Council today largely in response to activism from Portland Peak Oil, a local grassroots group. "This task force will focus on preparing Portland for a local response to impending global oil shortages," said Stephen Johnson, a volunteer with Portland Peak Oil.

The task force resolution was sponsored by all five members of the council and passed unanimously. The Office of Sustainable Development will continue its leadership in addressing the problems inherent with urban sustainability by taking the lead in staffing the task force. The Bureau of Planning and the Office of Transportation will also be cooperating with the task force along with the Oregon Department of Energy and METRO who will be providing technical assistance. The task force will be comprised of up to 11 people representing diverse community and business interests.

Portland Peak Oil participants have raised the level of awareness regarding oil supply and consumption by holding weekly Wednesday night meetings at St. Francis Parish dining hall. "Local governments must plan and implement important policy changes to address the imminent oil shortages and their impact on our local economy," said Pam Leitch, a Portland Peak Oil volunteer in the policy working group.

The idea for a local task force began in January when Portland Peak Oil drafted a one-sentence petition urging the city to create a task force to investigate the implications of peak oil for the citizens of the Portland metro area. Volunteers in the group started circulating this petition and have collected over 600 signatures. After meetings with Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the Office of Sustainable Development, and other government officials, peak oil volunteers stepped up the campaign. Pam Leitch and David Cohan began drafting a resolution in February and reached a finalized version in cooperation with Saltzman's office in late April.

"Portlanders' support for this resolution is reflected in the tremendous growth of Portland Peak Oil over the past year," says Emily Pollard, an organizer with the group. "We look forward to assisting the work of the task force and continuing to promote projects to educate the community."

The task force will be appointed within one month and will then convene regular meetings throughout 2006. The policy recommendations to Council are expected within six to nine months and will be incorporated into the city's global warming local action plan and other measures such as the city's comprehensive plan.

Portland Peak Oil welcomes everyone to its regular Wednesday night meetings at St. Francis Parish dining hall at 7pm 1136 SE Pine in Portland, OR. For more information and to read the resolution visit www.portlandpeakoil.org.


The resolution that appeared on the PPO website:

RESOLUTION No.

Establish a Peak Oil Task Force to assess Portland’s exposure to diminishing supplies of oil and natural gas and make recommendations to address vulnerabilities. (Resolution)

WHEREAS, global reserves of oil and natural gas are finite and sufficient substitutes are unlikely to be available in the immediate future; and

WHEREAS, U.S. oil and natural gas production have peaked and are now in decline, ensuring our nation’s continued and growing dependence on oil and natural gas imported from politically unstable regions; and

WHEREAS, a growing body of energy industry experts believe that the world has already arrived at, or will soon arrive at, the peak of global oil production, which will be followed by an inevitable decline in available supply thereafter; and

WHEREAS, global demand for oil and natural gas continue to increase; and

WHEREAS, following the global peaks of oil and natural gas production, the interaction of decreasing supply and increased demand will cause the price of oil and natural gas to become more volatile; and

WHEREAS, the United States Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory has stated that, “The problems associated with world oil production peaking will not be temporary, and past ‘energy crisis’ experience will provide relatively little guidance. The challenge of oil peaking deserves immediate, serious attention, if risks are to be fully understood and mitigation begun on a timely basis”; and

WHEREAS, the City of Portland and its citizens and businesses depend on oil and natural gas for their economic welfare and their most critical activities, including transportation and food supply; and

WHEREAS, a large majority of money spent on fossil fuels leaves Oregon and provides no local economic benefit, while many of the solutions to lessening dependence on fossil fuels result in local jobs and substantial economic benefits;

WHEREAS, Portland residents and businesses are not currently aware of the full implications of an impending decline and will greatly benefit from an objective source of information on this topic; and

WHEREAS, the City of Portland has adopted the Local Action Plan On Global Warming, the success of which depends upon reducing carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels; and

WHEREAS, the City of Portland has a national reputation for planning and actions aimed at maintaining the City’s social values, equity, and quality of life and can take a leadership role in what may become one of the greatest political economic and societal issues of the next half century; and

WHEREAS, the Oregon Department of Energy and METRO share the City’s concerns about the uncertainty of future oil supplies and has offered to provide technical assistance in assessing the local implications of peak oil;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, a Peak Oil Task Force will be established to assess Portland’s exposure to diminishing supplies of oil and natural gas and make recommendations to address vulnerabilities. The Task Force will be lead and staffed by the Offices of Sustainable Development and will coordinate with the Office of Transportation and the Bureau of Planning. It will include up to 11 members representing a broad range of community and business interests.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Task Force’s charge is:

  1. .To acquire and study current and credible data and information on the issues of peak oil and natural gas production and the related economic and other societal consequences;

  2. To seek community and business input on the impacts and proposed solutions;
  3. To develop recommendations to City Council in this calendar year on strategies the City and its bureaus can take to mitigate the impacts of declining energy supplies in areas including, but not limited to: transportation, business and home energy use, water, food security, health care, communications, land use planning, and wastewater treatment. These recommendations will be considered as amendments to the Local Action Plan on Global Warming when it is revised in 2007 and integrated into citywide long term strategic planning; and
  4. To propose methods of educating the public about this issue in order to create positive behavior change among businesses and residents that reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Adopted by the Council,
Commissioner Sam Adams
Commissioner Randy Leonard
Commissioner Dan Saltzman
Commissioner Erik Sten
Mayor Tom Potter
Prepared by: Brendan Finn
May 10, 2006

GARY BLACKMER
Auditor of the City of Portland
By Deputy

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