President Peeking at Peak OilBy
Yesterday, President Obama gave a press conference at the White House on the BP Oil disaster in the Gulf. After weeks of building criticism over the administration’s handling of the crisis, the President was able to give a more robust explanation the administration’s efforts, capabilities, and vision for the future. I will leave the debate about the handling of this crisis to you, the readers, should you wish to engage in it. Please feel free to make your thoughts known in the comments. What struck me was this little gem:
“Now, let me make one broader point, though, about energy. The fact that oil companies now have to go a mile underwater and then drill another three miles below that in order to hit oil tells us something about the direction of the oil industry. Extraction is more expensive and it is going to be inherently more risky.
And so thatâ€™s part of the reason you never heard me say, ‘Drill, baby, drill’ — because we canâ€™t drill our way out of the problem. It may be part of the mix as a bridge to a transition to new technologies and new energy sources, but we should be pretty modest in understanding that the easily accessible oil has already been sucked up out of the ground.
And as we are moving forward, the technology gets more complicated, the oil sources are more remote, and that means that thereâ€™s probably going to end up being more risk. And we as a society are going to have to make some very serious determinations in terms of what risks are we willing to accept. And thatâ€™s part of what the commission I think is going to have to look at.”
And the day before, the President at a Fremont, California facility that manufactures solar panels:
“And the spill in the Gulf, which is just heartbreaking, only underscores the necessity of seeking alternative fuel sources. Weâ€™re not going to transition out of oil next year or 10 years from now. But think about it, part of whatâ€™s happening in the Gulf is that oil companies are drilling a mile underwater before they hit ground, and then a mile below that before they hit oil.
With the increased risks, the increased costs, it gives you a sense of where weâ€™re going. Weâ€™re not going to be able to sustain this kind of fossil fuel use. This planet canâ€™t sustain it. Think about when China and India — where consumers there are starting to buy cars and use energy the way we are. So weâ€™ve known that weâ€™ve had to shift in a fundamental way, and thatâ€™s true for all of us.”
From these remarks, it is clear that the administration is starting to at least take a peek at Peak Oil. Over at the Energy Information Agency, which just put out their annual forecast a couple weeks ago, world supply of liquid fuels will increase through 2035. Though the report hints at Peak Oil through higher real price forecasts and a larger proportions of biofuels or adding other “unconventional sources” to the mix while keeping “conventional” liquids flat. The administration is not yet connecting the peak oil dots, publicly anyway.
And perhaps they shouldn’t. The most important thing to do is to change the mindset of the American people about energy. We have a long way to go on that. The last President to wear a sweater in the White House to conserve energy was the last President to wear a sweater in the White House to conserve energy. That was thirty years and five Presidents ago. The blackened Gulf should become a symbol far more powerful than a presidential sweater to be used in moving us off oil. If tarred beaches don’t get our attention then the next stop is drowned beaches — drowned by the rising sea level caused by anthropogenic global warming caused by indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels.