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Bartlett: Why is Oil/Gas SO Expensive??
(60-minute online video)
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), U.S. Congress (Congress Channel)
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett explains why oil and gas are SO expensive and why energy is the biggest challenge of the 21st century in this one-hour Special Order speech to Congress recorded on November 1, 2007.

Rep. Bartlett reviews the history of energy and its connections to human civilization. In particular, he discusses the contributions of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas and their link to population growth and quality of life. He reviews the rate of oil discoveries and production and consumption and finite and renewable alternatives to oil to explain why energy is the most important challenge of the 21st century.

Related content found at:
(1 November 2007)
Contributor Greg Thornwall writes:
This is the video for the Nov 1 speech that I had posted before:
At least you can see the graphs/charts. 🙂

UPDATE (Nov 20): Corrected the date that the talk was given – it should be November 1, 2007. -BA

U.S. Energy Sec: not worried by OPEC dollar debate

Randy Fabi, Reuters
U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said on Tuesday the United States was not concerned about the debate within OPEC on whether it should seek an alternative to the dollar in pricing oil.

Bodman also told reporters that OPEC should increase output at its next meeting in Abu Dhabi in December.

The slump in the U.S. currency to record lows on global markets this month has hit export revenues of oil exporters because oil is priced in dollars.

This has prompted calls from Iran and Venezuela at an OPEC heads of state summit in Riyadh at the weekend that the oil exporting group drop the dollar and price oil against a basket of currencies instead.
(20 November 2007)
If the U.S. government is not worried about OPEC countries abandoning the dollar, that would be … uh .. incompetence. Energy Secretary Bodman is one of the better members of the Bush administration and he did not go into details (in response to the question, his only answer apparently was “No.”). So one hopes that Bodman’s denial is only for public consumption, and that conscientious public servants somewhere are beavering away on a strategy for the dollar. -BA

Peak Oil Production and the Implications to the State of Connecticut

Connecticut Legislative Peak Oil and Natural Gas Caucus
Report to Legislative Leaders and the Governor

Global oil production appears to have stagnated and may soon be headed toward terminal decline. International demand is increasing at a compounding rate yearly. Escalating oil cost is evident and supply shortage and disruption have occurred both in the US and internationally. Rising cost for oil has and will continue to affect every product, every citizen, every business and every function of Government. Contraction in the state’s economy is likely at current and possible higher oil prices. The state is unprepared for this permanent shift in the international energy regimes. Our society has only once ever faced a contraction of affordable and plentiful oil-during World War II. – Today we have no simple model to remedy the rising situation. There is no short-term fix.

… This report is not intended to be a technical paper nor is it comprehensive. While energy use and extraction has an inherent impact on the environment, this report does not contemplate environmental issues. Rather it serves as warning, a red flag, to the complacency and ignorance regarding oil, to which we have all been party to.

… Nearly 70% of all oil is used in transportation. There is no economical replacement for oil. Current technology has not yet produced a realistic substitute transportation fuel that can be used in the existing US fleet of 240 million vehicles. The Connecticut Department of Transportation has cited that 70% of people in the state work in a town other than the one they live in. This means that our highly auto-dependent work force will be forced to use increasingly expensive gasoline. The impact of rising gasoline costs will contract the spending of discretionary dollars, thereby affecting our considerably service-based economy.

… Connecticut has no native hydrocarbon resources. The state and the region sit at the end of the pipe line for natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico and from western Canada. Our oil imports are from the mid east and South America. About 92% of our energy comes from foreign countries or other states. We depend on natural gas for 30% of our electric generation and a substantial portion of our home heating fuel.

… New England is somewhat unique in the nation as we have a much larger percentage of homes using home heating oil. Connecticut has a high percentage of homes using heating oil. The cost estimates for heating oil this winter were 22% higher than last winter. In the next several years we can expect much higher cost. Of note, this year the state has had difficulty getting home heating oil companies to participate in the low income heating programs. It is clear with oil escalating by the day they can not deliver oil at reduced prices. Low income families and fixed income seniors are already at risk. The prospects for this population, at any higher prices, are disconcerting.

… We can expect that municipalities will be affected seriously. The cost of heating municipal public buildings–predominantly school buildings in most communities–will strain budgets. Likewise, the cost of maintaining other energy intensive municipal operations such as sewage treatment plants and vehicle fleets will become more difficult. The municipalities will be forced to turn to the property tax base or sacrifice other services or both to raise sufficient money for their energy budget.

Both municipal and state government will be pressed to afford their normal schedule of repaving and maintaining black-top roads. The cost of asphalt for paving closely follows the rising price of oil.

The state of Connecticut is the largest user of energy in the state. The state operates large scale housing units such as the prison system, colleges and the university system. The implications of providing heat at vastly inflated cost to these institutions can only be imagined at this point. The state also maintains and operates a very large fleet of large trucks and cars, most of which run on gasoline and diesel. Lastly, the state has many office buildings that need heating and cooling. As fuel prices rise and additional oil and gas cost is incurred, our problems will be compounded by falling tax revenues on transportation fuels.

… We have listed a few ideas as a starter. It is by no means an exhaustive list. All of these ideas are not endorsed by all the Caucus members but we have presented all of them for your consideration. • Create a Peak Oil Task Force on a state level and develop incentive legislation for municipalities to begin this type of planning on a local basis. There are several templates for this, especially the City of Portland’s Peak Oil Task Force (Portland, OR), etc.

• Initiate a Public Education Campaign: We need plain talk that tells the whole story and connects the dots to lay the groundwork for any broad policy package.

• Create a State Department of Energy with overall responsibility to oversee the transition.

• Top priority: develop and coordinate State and local emergency plans to deal with the impacts of sudden fuel reductions. (Fuel allocation, food distribution, transportation, health services, emergency response, etc.)

• Conduct scenarios planning

• Lead long-range sustainability planning: 50 years versus 5.

… Respectfully submitted,

Representative Terry Backer Co-Founder
Senator Bob Duff Co-Founder
Rep. Sean Williams
Rep. Carlo Leone
Rep. Steve Fontana
Rep. Linda Schofield
Rep. Diana Urban
Sen. Bill Finch
Rep. Bruce (Zeke) Zalinsky
Rep. Mary Mushinsky
(November 2007)