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Rep. Bartlett - Talk to your Representative about peak oil!

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md) continues to beat the drum about peak oil on Capitol Hill. You may have seen him on C-SPAN addressing the House or read some of his speeches. So far he has made about 30 speeches on peak oil, and a book on peak oil is in the works.

I had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Bartlett last December in his office near Frederick (north of Washington DC). During our meeting, he had some specific suggestions about how to raise awareness of peak oil.

Any constituent can meet with his or her representative. Bartlett's staff allots constituents about one half hour.

While waiting to see Bartlett, I chatted with some of his staff. I learned that his offices get around 30,000 emails per year! The staff answers them with a written response via the post office. I also found out that Bartlett will be publishing a book on peak oil soon.

When I was saw Rep. Bartlett, I felt that he was very approachable and that he listened to my concerns.

The first part of the interview I spent on an issue at my workplace (Fort Detrick). When the wind blows towards our building, one can smell a nearby municipal waste incinerator. After 9/11, the Army was burning anthrax contaminated materials in the incinerator and people in the area were concerned. I’m more worried about carcinogens. The incinerator is due to be upgraded in the near future.

Afterwards I spoke to Bartlett briefly about peak oil.

The Congressman does not seem happy about the views of other members of Congress on the energy crisis. Some members say we just need to drill for more oil -- there’s plenty out there. They just don’t comprehend the significance of the situation.

He noted that four government studies concluded that peak oil would cause major problems: the Hirsch Report, Government Accountability Office (GAO), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Petroleum Council (NPC)

He believes that biofuels are not the solution, and that they will compete with food production. It will not be able to provide enough energy. He is probably right. At current consumption we could not grow enough fuel to satisfy our current needs.

I showed Bartlett some graphs Stuart Staniford's article “Is the Decline of Base Production Accelerating?” at The Oil Drum web site:
the plateau
the accelerating decline.

The Congressman agreed that peak oil is occurring now.

I asked Bartlett what the peak oil community could do to get the word out. He and his staff suggested meeting with our Representatives about the issue of peak oil.

  • Members meet with constituents when Congress is on break (Thanksgiving, Christmas, summer, etc).

  • Members should have offices in your local area. You can type in your zip code to find your representative here:
  • When you meet with your Member of Congress, try to bring some like-minded folks with you - that way you don't look like an isolated nut!
  • Even better, see if you can find someone who is personally acquainted with the Representative.
  • Give them a short presentation on peak oil. Perhaps bring give them one of Congressman Bartlett’s speeches (I keep a copy of them at
  • A letter to the editor to your local paper is much more effective than a phone call or ordinary letter/email because it will be seen by the readership (voters!). This increases the chances that the Member will be aware of the issue.

I feel that people need to get more involved in U.S. politics. It seems most people are disillusioned with our government. I know that I am.

I have been concerned about peak oil for several years. Like most people, I thought it was 20 years away. Since I learned that peak oil was much closer at hand, I have been using my computer background to help spread the word.

Rep. Bartlett's official web pages only had a couple of his talks posted, so I volunteered to post them on my web page and on other websites, so they would have a permanent home and be easily accessible. The only other way to view the speeches is to do a database search on the Congressional Record website -- not an easy task.

Editorial Notes: Greg Thornwall has done yeoman's service to the peak oil movement by helping get Rep. Bartlett's speeches to the public. Almost all of our postings of the speeches have come from Greg. -BA

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