The most straightforward way to get your municipality engaged on responding to our energy predicament is a resolution. On what I call 4-11 (“four eleven”) – that is April 11th, 2006 – San Francisco became the first major city in North America to pass a resolution about our energy predicament. The resolution calls for peak oil to be considered a serious issue, a city wide assessment funded by the mayor to be undertaken, and the oil depletion protocol to be endorsed.
Hopefully people won’t just say “only in California” as they do on so many other issues. Getting San francisco to be the first major city to pass a peak oil resolution is kind of like getting Cuba to be the first signatory to the Oil Depletion protocol. It sould be noted that on December 6, 2005, Franklin, NY (population 2500) became the first and only other city or town to pass a peak oil resolution thanks to the efforts of peak oil activist Gene Marner.
We have a number of resources for you on resolutions, including:
How to Pass a Resolution
The list below is the first cut at a how-to guide for getting a resolution passed in your city or town. The steps have been synthesized from the successful resolution efforts in San Francisco, CA and Franklin, NY. Before starting the process, you may want to thinking about the following strategic questions:
- Joint statement vs. resolution? A joint statement may be easier but it may be less actionable.
- Energy preparedness vs. oil vulnerability vs. peak oil? Think about your audience and the best way to frame the issue. Try to get some advisement from your champion.
- How much emphasis on peak oil vs. price escalation? Once again try to get advice form your champion.
- Action requested – citizen’s action group or study? If study, the resolution will need to ask for funds to be made available.
- How much guidance/detail to give about the study? In San Francisco, they created a separate document that provided some guidance on the study.
- Separate request for study document? They did this in San Francisco and it seemed to work well.
- Include Oil Depletion protocol? In San Francisco, they included suport for the Oil Depletion protocol. even though it was symbolic, it is still useful as it could spur public discussion of the protocol.
- When is the right time? Identify any timing issues e.g., money and time of decision makers, elections, etc..
Once you have pondered and hopefully resolved the strategic questions above, you are ready to begin the campaign to get a peak oil resolution passed.
How-To Guide for Passing a Energy Preparedness Resolution
Convene a well-rounded team with skills in the following areas: science/engineering, writing, speaking, and organizing. The San Francisco team is a good model for that. See their interviews on www.globalpublicmedia.com. Make sure you have enough people. A city the size of New York will need more people than San Francisco. By realistic about time commitments and time needed to pull this off; most of the meetings with councilors will probbaly have to be during business hours.
- Write draft resolution text and possibly a request for study. Take a look at our guide for how to write a resolution.
- Draft a presentation with notes and talking points. Make sure it stays on focus. Know how much time you are aiming for (e.g., 15 minutes) and make the appropriate number of slides. Backup slides are ok.
- Reach out to key non-profit orgs for endorsement and input. Optional
- Find out about the councilors including Contact informtion, reputation, and interests. Find out who will not be seeking re-election. Find out the hot button issues (e.g., homeless, poverty, city budget) for each councilor. Ascertain their understanding of energy and peak oil. Come up with an angle or opening for beginning a conversation about energy preparedness.
- Send letters and faxes to decision makers. Do not rely upon email; it has less of an impact. Get community support and help on this; email request for help to local supporters. Also, ask them to send letters to the editor with councilor named. Make examples with various alternative text.
- Try to get speaking engagements on environment, energy, disaster preparedness commissions and with the heads of the asscoiated departments.
- Identify materials to give each councilor such as the oil poster, books (e.g., The Party’s Over), white papers such as Energy preparedness: A Municipal Perspective, The Hirsch report, John Howe’s handout.
- Invite councilors to speak at events on peak oil, screenings. This was done in SF well before the resolution effort.
- Meet with councilors. Be prepared. Bring materials. Hit the hot buttons. Ask for support. Make it a two way communication… And do you best to get meetigs with the councilor. Staff is better than nothing.
- Secure a champion – someone to introduce the resolution. Ask for co-sponsorship from other decision makers. May need to play various councilors off each other. Suggest strategic submission on day with few contentious issues.
- Try to inspire other nearby communities to follow suit.