Peak Oil Plan of Response and Preparation
Resolution acknowledging the challenge of Peak Oil and the need for San Francisco to prepare a plan of response and preparation
WHEREAS, World oil production is nearing its point of maximum production (“Peak Oil”) and will enter a prolonged period of irreversible decline leading to ever-increasing prices; and
WHEREAS, The United States has only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, produces 8 percent of the world’s oil and consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil, of which nearly 60 percent is imported from foreign countries; and,
WHEREAS, The decline in global oil production threatens to increase resource competition, geopolitical instability, and lead to greater impoverishment; and,
WHEREAS, National oil companies own 72% of remaining oil reserves and 55% of remaining gas reserves[i], and resource nationalism is increasingly dominating decisions of oil and gas development and trade relationships; and,
WHEREAS, The availability of affordable petroleum is critical to the functioning of our transportation system, the production of our food and of petrochemical-based consumer goods, the paving of roads, the lubrication of all machinery, and myriad other parts of the economy; and,
WHEREAS, San Francisco is entirely dependent on external supplies of petroleum, including the crude oil processed in Bay Area refineries; and,
WHEREAS, Price signals of petroleum scarcity are likely to come too late to trigger effective mitigation efforts in the private sector, and governmental intervention at all levels of government will be required to avert social and economic chaos; and,
WHEREAS, The Department of Energy-sponsored study[ii] on mitigation of Peak Oil demonstrated that a twenty-year lead time is required for effective mitigation, while current measures supported by the federal government will replace only three-weeks worth of gasoline consumption by 2012[iii]; and,
WHEREAS, Alternative sources of transport fuels from coal and natural gas both require high energy input and increase total carbon emissions, and biomass-based fuels compete with soil fertility, impacting agricultural sustainability[iv]; and,
WHEREAS, Substitution of petroleum with other fossil fuels threatens even greater damage to water, air, soil, and species diversity through their extraction and combustion; and,
WHEREAS, North American production of natural gas has already peaked, and 46% of California’s electrical supply is generated from natural gas; and,
WHEREAS, San Francisco has demonstrated leadership in confronting challenges of environmental quality and energy security, promoting environmental and economic equity, and has a rich diversity of citizens committed to maintaining San Francisco’s long-term viability; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco acknowledges the unprecedented challenges of Peak Oil; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors supports the adoption of a global Oil Depletion Protocol to provide transparency in oil markets, control price swings, address issues of equity in access to remaining oil resources, and provide a framework of predictability within which municipal governments can adjust to increasing oil scarcity; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors supports the undertaking of a city-wide assessment study in order to inventory city activities and their corollary resource requirements, evaluating the impact in each area of a decline in petroleum availability and of higher prices, with the aim of developing a comprehensive city plan of action and response to Peak Oil; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors urges the Mayor to provide funding and direction to city departments for the development of a response plan.
[i] “The Role of the National Oil Companies in a Changing World:
Economic and Energy Relations”, OPEC, 2004 at
[ii] Robert L. Hirsch, R. Bezdek, R. Wendling, Peaking Of World Oil
Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management, February 2005,
[iv] L. Reijnders, “Conditions for the sustainability of biomass based
fuel use”, Energy Policy 34 (2006) 863-876
(text does not include this but an abstract is available at
A press release on the resolution is available at PR Web. It reads:
San Francisco Becomes First U.S. City to Pass Peak Oil Resolution
Campaign by Local Activists Persuaded Board of Supervisors of Looming Energy Crunch; Landmark Initiative Urges Development of ‘Action and Response Plan’
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) April 14, 2006 — San Francisco on Tuesday became the first U.S. city to pass a resolution acknowledging the threats posed by peak oil, urging the city to develop a comprehensive plan to respond to the emerging global energy crunch.
The resolution (www.sfbayoil.org/sfoa/media/SFOA_Peak_Oil_Resolution.pdf) which won unanimous support by the Board of Supervisors was sponsored by Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi, Jake McGoldrick, Sophie Maxwell and Chris Daly. It cites an influential study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, known as the Hirsch Report (www.mnforsustain.org/oil_peaking_of_world_oil_production_study_hirsch.htm), which raises concerns about the nation’s ability to avert a major crisis from the peak and decline of oil production.
The measure comes on the heels of an increasingly effective grass roots campaign by groups such as San Francisco Oil Awareness, Post Carbon San Francisco, and SF Informatics, who have sponsored mailings and meetings targeting Bay Area elected officials for more than two years. San Francisco has been making strides in the area of energy independence, energy watchdogs have reported. According to a year-long study by Sustainlane.com using over 600 data points, San Francisco is the city third best able to cope with an energy crisis.
Michael Poremba, spokesman for SF Informatics, congratulated the Supervisors on their action Tuesday. “We are thrilled to see the city finally acknowledging the peak oil issue,” Poremba said. “Our society runs on oil, our economy runs on oil, and farsighted local governments should begin planning now–indeed years ago–for an era of declining supplies, because that era is starting now.”
Citizen’s group San Francisco Oil Awareness played a key role in bringing the idea of a resolution in front of city officials. Members of the group, including Jennifer Bresee, Allyse Hartwell, Dennis Brumm and David Fridley, formed a committee promoting a draft resolution discussing the issue with officials on the Board and at other venues.
Local peak oil activists have been gaining wider recognition in recent months as the topic has gained traction in the media and in the U.S. Congress, where Congressman Roscoe Bartlett introduced the first-ever “peak oil resolution” and formed a caucus to study the issue. Members of the SF Post Carbon group were featured in a recent article in Salon.com www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/03/22/peakoil/index_np.html surveying the growing movement.
Among the high-visibility tools used by the groups is a colorful poster called The Oil Age, created by SF Informatics in association with Global Public Media. The poster traces the history of oil production worldwide and displays relevant energy statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, BP Statistical Review and other industry sources. The poster was hand delivered to dozens of Bay Area elected officials in January, including the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, The Department on the Environment and the Commission on the Environment.
“The poster is a great way to open up city officials’ doors,” said David Fridley, a scientist with the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and a member of San Francisco Oil Awareness. “It’s a very effective passport into the halls of power because of its polished and professional quality.” Co-member Jennifer Bresee agrees, “Plunking down this poster in front of a supervisor is a lot more effective than trying to explain it in words alone,” she says.
Copies of The Oil Age poster can be purchased at www.oilposter.org. To date, over 1,600 posters have been donated to teachers worldwide. And thanks to Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, the poster has been distributed to every member of the U.S. Congress.
PDF of San Francisco’s Peak Oil Resolution available at: www.sfbayoil.org/sfoa/media/SFOA_Peak_Oil_Resolution.pdf
Robert L. Hirsch, R. Bezdek, R. Wendling, Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management, February 2005 (www.mnforsustain.org/oil_peaking_of_world_oil_production_study_hirsch.htm).
About SF Informatics
SF Informatics represents a group of concerned citizens committed to researching and communicating critical ecological and societal trends worldwide. For more information: e-mail protected from spam bots. Poster ordering or donation information: www.oilposter.org.
About San Francisco Oil Awareness
San Francisco Oil Awareness works to raise awareness of the Peak Oil predicament with elected officials, neighbors, and friends. The group offers a framework for those who want to begin the difficult work of transforming our society to achieve as graceful a “Power Down” as possible. For more information www.sfbayoil.org/sfoa/index.html.
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