Top Ten Sustainability Stories for 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Green A City blog features blogger Warren Karlenzig's Top Ten Sustainability Stories for 2006:

The year of 2006 in review from the perspective of sustainability in state and local government, presented in order of importance.

Though we have been doing this blog only since May, so much has gone on since then that we are overwhelmed by the evidence that the nation is experiencing a collective tipping point.

1. Climate Change Policy Milestones
2. Boston Requires Green Construction for All Large Buildings
3. Portland to Institute Green Real Estate Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
4. New York's Sustainability Planning
5. Portland Biodiesel Requirement
6. Denver Greenprint
7. Record Summer Heat Wave
8. Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Campaign
9. Oakland (CA) Local Food and Zero Fossil Fuel Goals
10. Best Practice Sustainability Knowledge Base Launched for Government

Since Warren lives in California, we'll forgive him for not including passage of Wisconsin's new Energy Efficiency and Renewables Law (Act 141).

I give Act 141 the #1 spot on Wisconsin's sustainability/renewable/energy efficiency scorecard for 2006.

Feel free to add your thoughts on Wisconsin's top accomplishments in 2006.

Technology in place for renewable energy industry

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A story by Heidi Clausen in The Country Today includes projections that the U.S. can produce 25% of its energy needs by 2025:

ST. PAUL, MINN. - The American renewable energy industry may not have to reinvent the wheel to meet the national "25X'25" goal.

Technology already is in place, according to David Morris, vice president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

"We need to bring what is at the fringes to the center," Mr. Morris said Dec. 12 at the Midwest Agriculture Energy Network Summit in St. Paul.

Continue reading Technology in place.

The Greening of Madison - January 23, 2007

Friday, December 22, 2006


Austin King, President of Madison City Council
Dan Dettman, City of Madison Engineering
Harry Sulzer, City of Madison New Construction Supervisor

Join us for a round table discussion about Madison’s Sustainable Future.

6:00 - 6:30pm Arrival

6:30 – 8:00pm Meeting

KJWW Engineering Consultants
302 W. Broadway, Suite 312
Madison, WI 53713

Snacks and beverages provided.

$10 fee – Make checks payable to IES-Madison section

RSVP by Jan. 14th

Contact: Ingrid McMasters at 608-221-6708 or

Holidays add $15-$50 to energy bills

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A story by Corinthia McCoy in the Green Bay Press-Gazette highlights the electricity and energy impact of the holidays:

With the holiday season comes the decoration fever so don't be surprised if you see holographic holiday scenes, inflatable scenes and characters and fiber-optic trees.

They're what's in, according to Wisconsin Public Service.

This year, WPS expects to tack on an additional $15 to $50 to the traditional electric bill with all those holiday decorations sucking the electricity.

For example, if you display eight sets of mini or icicle lights and three spotlights and leave them on for six hours, it will cost 52 cents a day, or $15.45 a month, according to the WPS Web site.

"We always do (see an increase) over the holiday season, but it's not only from the holiday lighting," said Karmen Lemke, community relations for WPS.

More washing, baking and houseguests occur during the holiday, adding to the bill, she said, not just those Christmas lights.

However, warmer temperatures may offset some of the cost, Lemke said.

In the meantime, to save energy WPS suggests plugging indoor and outdoor lighting displays into a timer pre-set to run for three to five hours, use light-emitting diode light strings, and enhance the lights on your tree with reflectors to avoid adding more to save energy.

Natural gas: Pipeline limits or limited supply?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An Associated Press story by Brad Foss looks at storage and pipeline shortages as the cause for higher than usual natural gas prices during the current mild winter.

However, Andrew Weissman (Editor-in-Chief & Publisher, finds an emerging natural gas crisis:

By the mid to later part of the next decade, this gap [betwen supply and demand] is likely to reach a minimum of 7.5 to 10.0 Tcf per year – an amount roughly equivalent, in BTU terms, to 1.5 X the amount of oil the U.S. currently imports from the Middle East.

Read Weissman's freightening predictions at

WI AG joins opposition to Kansas coal-fired plants

Monday, December 18, 2006

A story by Scott Rothschild in the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World reports on a lawsuit against Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s proposal to build three coal-fired plants in western Kansas:

Eight state attorneys general on Friday asked Kansas to reject Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s proposal to build three coal-fired plants in western Kansas, saying carbon dioxide emissions from the project would contribute to destructive climate change.

“We encourage Kansas to explore alternatives that will allow Kansas to satisfy its needs for energy without exacerbating global warming,” the officials said in a letter to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Steve Miller, a spokesman for Hays-based Sunflower Electric, said he disagreed with the position of the eight states, but that they were entitled to submit their remarks.

Miller said probably the best way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would be to focus on improving pollution controls on plants in foreign countries.

The states opposed to Sunflower Electric’s proposal are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. The Lawrence City Commission has also filed a letter in opposition.

Directory of Wisconsin alternative fuels stations

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A State of Wisconsin Web site offers listings of E85 and biodiesel retail outlets in the state:

Interactive map of alternative fuels stations

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cindy Jett of sent the following:

About 6 months ago, began a project- the interactive mapping of alternative fuel stations across the US. We initially researched and populated these maps ourselves, with the idea in mind that alternative fuel enthusiasts would subsequently add to, and enhance, the information we provided. We mapped each fuel station, and provided space for a written description, photo, and link to a website. We have maps for the following types of fuel stations: biodiesel; compressed natural gas; electric fueling; ethanol 85; hydrogen fuel; liquefied natural gas; propane fuel.

Since this project was started, the public has made hundreds of additions and enhancements to these maps. We now have one of the most comprehensive databases of alternative fuel stations in the US. If you were one of our contributors, we’d like to thank you for your help!

I’m writing today to ask that if you know of any alternative fuel stations that have opened or closed in the last 6 months, that you make those changes to the maps. Also, we encourage you to add any alternative fuel stations that we are still missing.

The link to the Going Green Directory of all of the alternative fuel stations maps is:

Inconvenient Truth and other movies for free

Monday, December 11, 2006

Chuck Learned posted the following on the Sustain Dane list serve:

I have not checked to see if all the links work.

An Inconvenient Truth is available free on youtube. here's a link:

Also, I got emailed this today. It's a list of other "must see"
movies available on line:

David Attenborough's Climate Chaos

Part 1:

Part 2:

Global Dimming

Strange Days on Planet Earth

2004 Trailer:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

2007 Trailer:

The Denial Machine

The End of Suburbia

Trading Freedom: The Secret Life of The FTAA

Big Ideas That Changed The World

Part 1:

Part 2:

Capitalism and Other Kid's Stuff

for a free world
Chuck Learned
check out
sharing our lives balancing community and privacy

See how diesels run on vegetable oil, Dec. 8-10

Friday, December 08, 2006

Learn first-hand from a German Biofuels Engineer -- Workshop and Lectures at Madison's PrairieFire BioFuels Coop, December 8-10, at 1894 East Wash. Ave. This is a unique opportunity to learn about currently available biofuel technologies. See first hand how diesel vehicles are adapted to use straight vegetable oil (SVO) for fuel.

Alexander Noack, a BioFuels Engineer for Elsbett, is coming from Germany to PrairieFire BioFuels Coop. He will demonstrate SVO system installations on several diesel vehicles and give lectures during his visit. Visitors are welcome to take pictures and ask questions during system installations.

An ongoing workshop and open house will be held in the PrairieFire BioFuels Coop shop at 1894 East Washington Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin. They will be working Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Dec. 8-10, all day. At least three one-tank systems will be installed in passenger cars, and the recently introduced in the US two-tank system will be installed in a pickup truck.

Lectures will also be at the Coop shop (at 1894 East Washington Avenue in Madison, Wisconsin) on Friday December 8 from 5-6 pm and Saturday December 9 from 4-5 pm. Mr. Noack will discuss current biofuels issues in Europe and explain the technology behind the vegetable oil kits for diesel vehicles.

"A 1981 VW Dasher Diesel Turbo, which has run on SVO for 140,000 trouble free miles, will be on show-and-tell during workshop" says Dasher owner and coop member David Dudley.

The public is welcome to all events. This event is free to coop members. For nonmembers there is no cost for the open house and workshop, the lecture is $5 or free with the donation of a 5-gallon jug of used turkey frying oil.

PrairieFireBioFuels Coop is a member-owned cooperative creating access and building infrastructure to support vegetable-oil-based fuel sources and usage. PrairieFire is the only business selling biofuels on a main street of a capitol city in the United States, the only place in Wisconsin selling B100 biodiesel, and one of only four Elsbett Service Partners in the US.

Elsbett is best known in the US for their one-tank system, which enables diesel vehicles to run on pure plant oil (PPO), or straight vegetable oil (SVO) as it is more commonly known in the US. Elsbett has been developing SVO systems for diesel engines for nearly 30 years.


If you would like more information about this event, or about PrairieFire BioFuels Coop, contact Jeff Barnhart at the PrairieFire Office: 608-441-5454 or email

Arrowhead-Weston carrying power

Thursday, December 07, 2006

According to a story by D.J. Slater in the Wausau Daily Herald:

A surge of satisfaction struck officials at the American Transmission Co. after a second week of tests on its partially completed Arrowhead-Weston transmission line turned out successful.

American Transmission Co., a multi-state transmission utility corporation, recently finished a 143-mile segment that stretches from the Weston Power Plant in Rothschild to the Stone Lake Substation in Sawyer County. The line is designed to improve electrical reliability, reduce disturbances and increase electric import capability.

UWSP residence halls to use more renewable energy

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A story from the Stevens Point Journal reports on renewable energy at the UW-Stevens Point:

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Residence Hall Association (RHA) and Residential Living have each voted to buy 10 percent renewable energy from Wisconsin Public Service’s Nature Wise program for campus residence halls.

The 20 percent total increase will be in addition to the 10 percent campus-wide renewable energy provided through an SGA agreement signed earlier this year with WPS.

NatureWise provides energy derived from a blend of wind and biomass, which are gases produced naturally from landfills and farm animal waste. It allows customers to purchase 100-kilowatt-hour blocks of renewable energy each month for an additional one-dollar per block.

The official Nature Wise agreement will be signed Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Room 073 of the DeBot Center.

Cherokee Marsh homes need to be zero-energy consumers

Monday, December 04, 2006

In a personal letter to the City of Madison Plan Commission, Michael Vickerman offers his professional perspective on development plans for Cherokee Marsh:

First, I am pleased that an agreement was reached to scale back the physical footprint of this development. The City's commitment to acquire the most sensitive portions of this property is commendable.

However, the City's land purchase will have little impact on this project's energy impacts, which are considerable. As reported in the Wisconsin State Journal last week, the first phase of this development will consist of 60 to 70 upscale single-family houses. The default option is to heat these dwellings with natural gas, a premium energy source that is being rapidly depleted in North America. Presently about 80% of the natural gas consumed in the United States is supplied by domestic sources, and 15% comes from Canada, which exports half of its output to the U.S. (The remainder is imported from overseas.) According to the latest U.S. Geological Survey’s estimates, we have only 10 years of proven reserves at present consumption levels, while Canada’s Geological Survey estimates a mere eight years’ worth of reserves. Is this a good time to be adding a slew of larger houses that are dependent on this shrinking fuel? I think not. . . .

In my view the City of Madison has an obligation to all its citizens (and especially to those residences and businesses along the proposed 345 kV transmission line along the Beltline) to require new houses to capture a portion of the thermal and electric energy they use on-site. Given the considerable energy impacts from allowing the Cherokee Marsh development to go forward in a business-as-usual manner, the City ought to initiate such a policy there, before ground is broken.

Energy, Society and the Environment

Friday, December 01, 2006

You are invited to attend any of these three debates on controversial energy topics

“The Expansion of Subsidies for Wind Energy”
Tuesday, December 5, 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.
Room 175 Science Hall, 550 N. Park St., UW-Madison

“The Expansion of Nuclear Power”
Thursday, December 7, 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.
The State Capital - Room 413 North

“Corn to Ethanol”
Tuesday, December 12, 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.
Room 175 Science Hall, 550 N. Park St., UW-Madison

Sponsored by students registered in the Nelson Institute course.

For more information, please contact Richard Shaten at

The End of Ingenuity

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The New York Times ran a lengthy commentary by Thomas Homer-Dixon on November 29. Thomas Homer-Dixon, director of the Trudeau Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto, is the author of “The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization.”

The commentary may be one of the first to appear on the Op Ed page of a major newspaper and speculate about the end of growth.

Two excerpts follow and the full commentary is here.

. . . The debate about limits to growth is coming back with a vengeance. The world’s supply of cheap energy is tightening, and humankind’s enormous output of greenhouse gases is disrupting the earth’s climate. Together, these two constraints could eventually hobble global economic growth and cap the size of the global economy. . . .

. . . we really need to start thinking hard about how our societies — especially those that are already very rich — can maintain their social and political stability, and satisfy the aspirations of their citizens, when we can no longer count on endless economic growth.

DNR ruling on pipeline expected this week

Monday, November 27, 2006

RENEW Wisconsin previously requested preparation of a full ecnomic impact statement (EIS) on the proposed Enbridge pipeline simply because the sand tars of Canada are not likely to support the pipeline for more than a few years.

A story by Andrew Hellpap in the Marshfield New Herald reports that the DNR may decide this week on whether to order an EIS:

State Department of Natural Resources officials are expected to rule early this week on a proposed petroleum pipeline from Superior to Delavan.

Phase one of Enbridge Inc.'s 321-mile pipeline would cross through the northeast corner of Clark County and diagonally from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of Wood County, intersecting lakes, rivers, forests and wetlands on private and public lands.

The public comment period on a series of DNR permits for construction of the pipeline has ended. About 30 individuals and several environmental groups raised questions about the permits and the environmental impact of the pipeline, said Jeff Schimpff, project manager for the DNR Office of Energy in Madison.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Unstoppable biker Hans Noeldner provided a link to some amusing and insightful quotes about bicycles and automobiles, including these:

"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."
~Iris Murdoch, writer (1919-1999)

”The automobile has not merely taken over the street, it has dissolved the living tissue of the city. Its appetite for space is absolutely insatiable; moving and parked, it devours urban land, leaving the buildings as mere islands of habitable space in a sea of dangerous and ugly traffic.”
~James Marston Fitch, New York Times, 1 May 1960

”Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf.”
~Lewis Mumford

New WECC offices include solar

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The solar panels above will add electricity to the new Madison offices of the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC), administrator of Focus on Energy programs.

Along with other panels not shown, the installations have a rated capacity of more than 19 kW, making them collectively one of the largest installations in the state, second only to an installation on the campus of the UW-Green Bay.

Maybe Amtrak's time has arrived

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dave Zweifel speculates on the future of Amtrack in a Capital Times commentary:
"I have always wondered why the Amtrak debate is so emotional and at times acrimonious. It really needn't be, especially now. At a time of high oil prices, growing highway and airport congestion and record rail freight volumes, we should be embracing rail and developing it as quickly and as responsibly as we can.

"We should get beyond the debate of a few hundred million dollars of operating costs and begin to realize (what) the potential rail passenger service has to offer with the right level of investment and a clearly defined federal policy."

That's just a piece of the refreshing testimony that Amtrak's new president, Alex Kummant, gave to the House Railroads Subcommittee shortly after taking over the job in September.

Renewable energy cleans up in mid-term elections

Friday, November 17, 2006

RENEW's executive director Michael Vickerman offers a perspective on November's elections:

The gale-force winds that reshaped the political landscape this November augur well for new initiatives to substitute fossil fuel use with renewable energy.

To a degree unmatched in previous elections, candidates articulated an energy agenda that emphasized greater reliance on bioenergy, wind, solar, and conservation—and won, often by convincing margins. The renewable energy tide swept through not only both chambers of Congress but also many statehouses across the country. Only the Southeastern states seemed to escape its impact.

Read the full commentary here.

Point's Emy J restaurant heats water with the sun

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The lastest issue of the newsletter from the Citizens Energy Cooperative features a story about the hot water installations of one of the coop's members:

Located in the heart of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is a quaint café which serves a variety of coffee drinks, ice creams and sandwiches. Emy J’s coffee shop and wi-fi hot spot is a charming nitch located in the center of the busy college town. Owner Guy Janssen is dedicated to being environmentally responsible and in the spring of 2006 he had over 150 square feet of solar collectors installed on the roof of his restaurant by Solar Mining Company.

It wasn’t long after the installation on Emy J’s that Guy purchased another renewable energy system, this time for his home. In September of 2006 the Janssen’s had a 320 square foot panel ground mounted at the site of their new home in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The collector which they purchased from the Citizens Energy Cooperative of Wisconsin will be used for both domestic hot water and space heating. The home system that he purchased will be, “heating the hot water and home through the radiant floor system,” said Guy.

More and more often customers of the Citizens Energy Cooperative are choosing, just like Guy did, to have a larger system installed on their home for space heating as well as their domestic hot water needs. The Janssen’s house has a radiant floor system, which is an ideal application for solar hot water. Hot water runs through the system in the floor to heat the house, in conjunction with a solar application– the energy is free from the sun!

If you are interested in receiving more information on the Citizens Energy Cooperative, our products and services or setting up a site assessment, please contact Ashley at 800-504-7331 and take the first step to becoming a satisfied customer like Guy!

Coal plant faces stiff opposition

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

An article by Carl Jaeger in The Badger Herald reports on hearings about the UW coal-burning heat and power plant:

The permit for the Charter Street coal plant is up for renewal, and University of Wisconsin students are taking the opportunity to spread environmental awareness.

UW Students in the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group are taking advantage of this opportunity to increase student knowledge about the plant itself and about alternative energy sources. The coal permit determines how much pollution can be emitted into the atmosphere by a particular plant. . . .

WISPIRG, an environmental grassroots organization, said the coal-powered plant uses “dirty technology” and non-renewable fuel sources, which the group calls “outdated,” in a press release.

“We have a very dirty plant on Dayton and Charter,” Lauren Crane, a WISPIRG media intern, told The Badger Herald.

The coal-burning plant on the UW campus is the second worst sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide polluter in Dane County, according to the WISPIRG website. The site also said the UW plant pollutes area lakes and causes global warming pollution.

AG wins suit on appliance efficiency standards

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Fond du Lac Reporter and other newspapers around the country carried the following story:

MADISON — The federal Department of Energy (DOE) will start setting new standards to sharply increase the energy efficiency of many domestic appliances under an agreement reached with several state attorney generals.

Appliances impacted include home ranges, ovens, air conditioners and dishwashers. This action settles a federal lawsuit against DOE brought by New York and a coalition of 14 other states, including Wisconsin, the City of New York and three public interest groups, according to a press release from Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.

Read the full story.

Subsidies for fossil fuels vs. wind

Monday, November 13, 2006

From a fact sheet published by the American Wind Energy Associaiton (AWEA):

U.S. subsidies for oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, and hydro power totaled approximately $500 billion from 1950 to 1977 (in 2004 dollars). In the last century, this investment created an abundance of affordable domestic energy, powering strong economic growth. It also contributed to a heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Today’s rising energy demands – and volatile prices – reveal a need for a more diverse energy supply.

RENEW questions new Wisconsin crude oil pipeline

Friday, November 10, 2006

RENEW Wisconsin requested preparation of a full environmental impact statement (EIS) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the proposal and application of Enbridge Energy, Limited Partners to construct two parallel 321-mile long pipelines through Wisconsin to carry crude petroleum from Alberta tar sands to refineries south of Chicago.

Enbridge Energy must receive numerous permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because the pipeline would cross dozens of streams and wetlands.

RENEW Wisconsin submitted comments to the Corps and raised several concerns about the need for the pipeline: 1) How much petroleum can be extracted from the tar sands; 2) how much natural gas will be available for the extraction process; 3) how much the refined petroleum will help U.S. gasoline supplies compared to ethanol production; and 4) how much of the refined product will even reach Wisconsin.

In the end, RENEW said:

Enbridge Energy makes several unsubstantiated and questionable assertions in its application and related materials, and those assertions needs examination from all points of view to be certain they reflect various scenarios for the proposed project.

RENEW Wisconsin requests the opportunity to supply further documentation and testimony on the issues discussed above as part of the preparation of the EIS.

Read the complete letter.

ATC backs study request on Tuesday's ballot

Monday, November 06, 2006

With all the election hoopla, don’t forget the referendum on a study of transmission lines in Dane County. This comes from a story by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

American Transmission Co. has taken out full-page ads in today's Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times urging a "yes" vote on Tuesday's Dane County referendum on power lines.

The referendum asks county voters whether a new, independent study should be conducted to see if the county truly needs more high-power transmission lines.

It's not that the public utility company in charge of most of those towering lines in Wisconsin thinks the outcome will change. Mark Williamson, ATC's vice president for major projects, called the referendum question "stupid" in a telephone interview Friday. He said it's a moot issue because the state Public Service Commission will conduct a study before deciding whether the lines can be built.

The End of Cheap Oil, The Future of Food

Friday, November 03, 2006

• Oil is a finite resource and world supplies will peak soon.
• Fuel prices will go sky high.
• Trucking food to our supermarkets will not be affordable.
• How will we produce enough food locally to feed ourselves?
• How many farms will we need?
• How will farmers, as well as the rest of us, adjust to the lack of fuel, pesticides and fertilizers?

The West Waubesa Preservation Coalition presents:
The End of Cheap Oil and the Future of Food
Sat., Nov. 11, 10 - 5
Promega BTC Auditorium
5445 E. Cheryl Pkwy.
Fitchburg, 53711
Featuring showings of:

“The End of Suburbia”
(an edited version of the video about Peak Oil and its consequences for America)

“The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil”
(a video on Cuba’s response to the “Peak Oil” situation brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the end of cheap Soviet oil)

“The New Intervale”
(a documentary on the amazing 700-acre piece of land housing 12 organic farms, a farm incubator, a youth project, composting business and more in Burlington,

“Our Vision for the Northeast Neighborhood”
WWPC’s slide show on our alternative to a massive development just south of the Beltline on the western edge of Fitchburg.

Lots of Q&A, brainstorming and discussion about how to meet the challenge in Dane County.

Cool door prizes and displays from our co-sponsors!

Co-sponsors: Renew Wisconsin/Madison Peak Oil Group, Sustain Dane, Blue Moon Farm

Please download a flyer to circulate or post far and wide.

Draining Canada First

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Petroleum and Natural Gas Watch
November 2, 2006, Vol. 5, Number 8
Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin

Sating America’s prodigious energy appetite depends on the continued availability of Canadian energy sources. About 25% of the crude oil and 80% of the natural gas imported into the United States come from our very accommodating neighbor to the north. More than half of the fuel pumped out of Canadian wells heads south to keep us Yankees warm and happily tooling about on our highways.

Even though the Canadian economy is no less dependent on hydrocarbon energy than ours, Canada has been drilling as many wells as necessary to keep the high-maintenance American economy humming. If this pedal-to-the-metal production policy were applied to a non-strategic product like, say, maple syrup, few people would care about the consequences. But there is nothing on the horizon to replace the nonrenewable high-density energy sources that Canada so generously sends our way.

This begs the question: how long can Canada go on behaving like America’s most compliant energy colony?

Not very long, according to David Hughes, a petroleum geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada. Speaking before the World Peak Oil Conference held in Boston last week, Hughes painted a remarkably pessimistic picture of Canada’s energy future, especially regarding natural gas.

Continue reading on RENEW Wisconsin's blog.

Declaration of Dependence

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for the people to abandon civic spaces in which daily social and commercial Intercourse have, throughout history, bound neighbour with neighbour, customer with merchant, tradesman with client, manufactory with location, and citizen with community; and to indiscriminately pursue unfettered Motion and Isolation in the separate Vehicles to which their incomes entitle them; an unquestioning obeisance to the demands of motorized Movement requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all Motorists are created more equal than non-motorists; that they are endowed by Our Lord Economic Growth with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are the Right to drive wherever, whenever, and as much as they desire; and to do so in whatever size and type motor Vehicle shall please them; and that, moreover, they are entitled to as much Energy and motoring Infrastructure as shall prove needful for these purposes. That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among oil Companies, motor vehicle Manufacturers, the highway Lobby, and the land development Cabal, deriving their just Powers from Consumers as evidenced by their vehicle purchases, fuel consumption, and selection of residences that make Driving a “necessity”. That whenever any Form of historic municipal arrangement impedes the right to drive and park without limitation, it is the duty of departments of Transportation, acting on behalf of Motorists, to alter or to demolish it, and institute a new Master Plan, laying its foundation on an expansive Network of limited-access Highways, Streets wide enough for two ladder-type fire Trucks to pass with parked vehicles on both sides, turn Lanes, access Roads, drive Aisles, and abundant off-street Parking, as to the Motorists shall seem most likely to effect their Motoring Ease.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that city and village Designs long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that Motorists were sometimes disposed to suffer, while evils were yet sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Delays to which they had become accustomed. But when traffic Bottlenecks persist into the 21st Century, and insufficient free Parking near the front door of their every Destination continues to impede not merely the Motorist but Progress itself, it is the Motorists’ right, indeed it is his duty, to condemn and pave over such confined Spaces, and to provide, moreover, abundant Capacity for future traffic Growth.

This message is brought to you as a public service by Hans Noeldner, 608-444-6190. Although I am a trustee for the Village of Oregon, the views herein are my own.

Natural gas has eight years left - Discussion Nov. 2

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

At our November 2 meeting of the Madison Peak Oil Group, we'll discuss an article on natural gas procution in Canada, a major natural gas supplier to the U.S.

Statistics from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) concerning confirm the peak of natural gas in North America:

Look at the number of wells drilled by year, followed by production for that year:

1997: 4,842 – 15.7 Bcf/d;
1998: 4,991 – 16.1;
1999: 7,018 – 16.6;
2000: 9,078 – 17.1;
2001: 10,757 – 17.4;
2002: 9,061 – 17.4;
2003: 12,951 – 16.9;
2004: 15,126 – 17.0.

The figures show that 15,126 natural gas wells produced only 1.3 billion cubic feet per day more in 2004 than 4,842 produced in 1997.

Fuel analyst David Hughes concluded that North America peaked in terms of conventional natural gas production in 2001–2002.

Read more at The Republic.

The Madison Peak Oil Group will meet for a brown bag lunch and discussion at 12:00 noon in the conference room of RENEW Wisconsin, 222 S. Hamilton, Madison.

The meeting is open to anyone.

ASPO-USA report on November 2

Monday, October 30, 2006

When the Madison Peak Oil Group meets at noon on November 2, RENEW Executive Director Michael Vickerman will report on what he learned at the ASPO-USA conference held over the weekend of October 27-29 in Boston.

The end of cheap oil (and natural gas) stood out sharply in the reports on Canada's struggle to maintain natural gas production at the current level, given that existing well production will fall 28% this year, according to Vickerman.

The Madison Peak Oil Group will met in the conference room of RENEW Wisconsin, 222 S. Hamilton Street.

ASPO-USA is the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas - USA with a Web site at

Madison Peak Oil Group will meet November 2

Friday, October 27, 2006

Everyone is welcome to attend November's monthly meeting of the Madison Peak Oil Group.

Meeting Date and Time: November 2, 2006, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Location: RENEW Wisconsin Conference Room, 222 S. Hamilton Street

DRAFT Agenda

1. Introductions

2. Announcements/miscellaneous
a. Review of event with Randy Udall

3. Plans for “End of Cheap Oil; Future of Food” on November 11

4. Presentation on activities of Sustain Dane

5. Next meeting: Dec. 7

New ethanol plant going up near Johnson Creek

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pete Dempsey (far right), an employee of Renew Energy, conducted a tour of the old barley malting plant, previoulsy owned by Ladish and Cargil. RENEW Energy recently purchased the site for a new ethanol production facility south of Johnson Creek. Joining the tour were (left to right) Gerry Flakas (holding notebook), a RENEW board member; Ken Walz, a chemistry instructor at the Madison Area Technical College; two other instructors from MATC.

Win $10k with your ad for clean energy

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

SmartPower and You Tube have teamed up to give people across the country the chance to create their own ad on clean energy! (and to win $10,000!)

If you’re so inclined, give SmartPower your best video. Details at SmartPower contest.

Brian F. Keane

Peak oil underlies preservation effort

Friday, October 20, 2006

The West Waubesa Preservation Coalition (WWPC) seeks to preserve 250 acres of farmland along the edge of Madison suburb Fitchburg.

The WWPC uses peak oil arguments as the primary reasons for saving the land and lays out the following tasks for itself:

Secure land for locally grown food. How will Madison and surrounding communities deal with food shortages caused by high fuel prices?

Teach people how to grow food without fossil fuel inputs. Many people will want and need to grow food themselves, yet have no experience in food production, especially without chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Create structures for people to grow, buy, and sell food locally. Most of the farmland in the area is growing corn and soybeans. We need to grow fruits, vegetables, and grains, and to raise animals for eggs, milk, and meat.

To reinforce the message and their effort, the WWPC will show "The End of Suburbia" in the Promega BTC Auditorium, 5445 E. Cheryl Pkwy, at 10:00 a.m. on November 11.

Payback Analysis: An Impediment to Sustainability

Thursday, October 19, 2006

From the most recent edition of Petroleum and Natural Gas Watch by Michael Vickerman:

To a traditional economist, one who boils life’s complexities down to income, outflows and the time value of money, our decision to install a solar domestic hot water system doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, principally because the return is tiny relative to the large up-front outlay.

But in reducing this transaction to simple, measurable flows of dollars in and dollars out, economists filter out a great deal of relevant information that might confound their notions of rational economic decision-making. Though economists will concede that there are other valid factors besides pure price considerations on which to base one’s purchasing or investment decisions, they aren’t likely to register meaningfully in the economic models they use. Instead, these factors are categorized—and marginalized—as “externalities”—a semantic purgatory designed to prevent these considerations from crimping corporate America’s style.

Read the full commentary at RENEW's News & Views.

Energy Robin Hood to speak, October 18

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Randy Udall sees himself as a modern-day Robin Hood of sorts, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Udall heads the Community Office for Resource Efficiency in Aspen, Colorado, which oversees the world's stiffest tax on energy use. The tax, called "REMP" or Renewable Energy Mitigation Program, requires owners of new homes larger than 5,000 square feet to pay fees of up to $100,000 for excess energy use. -- The Osgood File, July 31, 2003
Randy Udall, whose father (Morris) and uncle (Stewart) were conservation giants, will discuss America’s energy challenges at 7:00 p.m. on October 18, 2006, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison.

Udall also writes prolifically and insightfully on energy issues and the coming end of cheap oil. His articles include: Stud Muffins and Kilowatt-hours; When will the Joy Ride End?; Methane Madness; Cleopatra to Columbia.

He will also speak at 8:30 a.m. on the same day at the Monona Terrace during the Sustainability Energy Efficiency conference of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.

Sponsored by Madison Peak Oil Group, RENEW Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.

Community Office for Resource Efficiency –
Madison Peak Oil Group –
RENEW Wisconsin –
Gaylord Nelson Institute -
Wisconsin Green Building Alliance –

U.S. Energy Flow - In the Belly of the Beast

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Randy Udall, whose father (Morris) and uncle (Stewart) were conservation giants, will discuss America’s energy challenges at 7:00 p.m. on October 18, 2006, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison.

Udall also writes prolifically and insightfully on energy issues and the coming end of cheap oil. From U.S. Energy Flow:

From a biological perspective, think of the U.S. economy as the largest “animal” the planet has ever seen—a living, breathing T. Rex Americus,whose energy appetite is gargantuan. If we dissect the beast to study the energy flows that sustain it, we end up with [a]chart, produced at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. . . .Our economy is not, metabolically speaking, a thrifty creature. About 55 percent of the energy that flows into the economy is ejected as T. Rex dung. This waste carries with it a huge pollution and climate burden.

Udall, who founded the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, will also speak at 8:30 a.m. on the same day at the Monona Terrace during the Sustainability Energy Efficiency conference of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.

Madison Peak Oil Group, RENEW Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Wisconsin Green Building Alliance sponsor the evening event.

Community Office for Resource Efficiency –
Madison Peak Oil Group –
RENEW Wisconsin –
Gaylord Nelson Institute -
Wisconsin Green Building Alliance –

When Will the Joyride End?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Randy Udall, whose father (Morris) and uncle (Stewart) were conservation giants, will discuss America’s energy challenges at 7:00 p.m. on October 18, 2006, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison.

Udall also writes prolifically and insightfully on energy issues and the coming end of cheap oil. From When will the Joy Ride End?:

During the last century oil has transformed the world. British coal launched the Industrial Revolution, but American petroleum put the pedal to the metal. No other material has so profoundly changed the face of the world in such a short time. . . . Soon, experts say, world oil production will reach an all-time high, an apex, a peak. Then, after a short plateau, it will decline forever. What historians will someday call the Oil Era will last only about 250 years. In 2000 we are closer to the Era’s end than to its beginning.

He will also speak at 8:30 a.m. on the same day at the Monona Terrace during the Sustainability Energy Efficiency conference of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.

Madison Peak Oil Group, RENEW Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Wisconsin Green Building Alliance sponsor the evening event.

Community Office for Resource Efficiency –
Madison Peak Oil Group –
RENEW Wisconsin –
Gaylord Nelson Institute -
Wisconsin Green Building Alliance –

Minneapolis shows success of light rail

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rob Zaleski reports in The Captial Times on Minneapolis' current light rail system and plans for the future:

If you've been to Minneapolis lately and ridden on its sleek, efficient Hiawatha light rail line, you probably understand why it continues to draw huge ridership. (One million passengers in August alone, according to city officials.)

Even skeptics who fought the 12-mile system — which began operating in 2004 and links downtown Minneapolis with the airport and the Mall of America — have been won over, locals say.

Now, Minnesota voters are contemplating an even bolder step to alleviate the gridlock that paralyzes rush-hour commuters in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. They will vote next month on a proposed constitutional amendment that would provide $100 million or more per year for a network of new rail lines, bus routes and park-and-ride lots that transit advocates believe could double ridership in the Twin Cities area by 2020.

Fitchburg-to-Madison bike trail won't get paved for 2 years

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

From an article by Maureen Backman in The Capital Times:

FITCHBURG - Due to minimal funding for bicycle projects in Wisconsin's Transportation Enhancement budget, a six-mile stretch of the Badger State Trail between Madison and Fitchburg will not be paved for two years.

"We feel left high and dry in the state transportation budget," said Fitchburg Ald. Steve Arnold.

Arnold - along with Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Verona, and Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Executive Director Dar Ward - expressed concern over lack of state funding for bicycle projects at a press conference Monday.

Black said the 2005-07 budget for the Department of Transportation was an "unfortunate decision" by the state Legislature that devastated the state's bicycle projects. The budget totaled $5.8 billion, but Transportation Enhancements amounted to less than 0.2 percent of that budget. Black said the Legislature agreed to take away 70 percent from the bicycle fund, leaving 92 projects in the state unfunded.

Work begins on state's largest ethanol plant

Monday, October 09, 2006

From an article by Steve Sharp in the Watertown Daily Times:

Government officials from the central part of Jefferson County joined Gov. Jim Doyle Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Renew Energy ethanol plant at the former Ladish malting facility. Doyle arrived with further good news of a $1.5 million loan to the firm to allow it to start off on the right foot.

Renew Energy has undertaken renovation and construction of the ethanol plant that is expected to produce 130 million gallons of ethanol per year. The new facility will employ as many as 100 workers. The firm expects to utilize 50 million bushels of corn per year, much of which will come from the area.

The 12 Suggested Steps of Oilaholics Anonymous

Friday, October 06, 2006

Terry Carpenter, an activist in many conservation causes, provided the following program for all of us oil addicts:

1. We admitted we were powerless over Oil Consumption -- that our lives had become Unsustainable.
2. Came to believe that preparing for Powerdown could restore us to Sustainability.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the Relocalization Network and give up the false hope that Technology would rescue us.
4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of our Ecological Footprints.
5. Admitted to the Planet, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our Unsustainable Lifestyle.
6. Were entirely ready to have the Universe remove all the defects of Consumerism.
7. Humbly asked the Natural World to help us see that Less is More and to redirect our life energy toward our Dreams.
8. Made a list of how we harmed Future Generations, and became willing to make amends to them.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, by Living Within Our Ecological Limits.
10. Continued to take an Energy Inventory and when we were Over-consuming, promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the Universe, praying only for knowledge and acceptance of the Oil Depletion Protocol and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we resolved to carry the message to Oilaholics, and to practice the Plan C principles in all our affairs.

The Simplicity Prayer -- Please grant me the strength to reject over-consumption, the courage to live a simpler life and the wisdom to cherish community.

You can comment on regional transportation plan

Thursday, October 05, 2006

According to the Madison Area Regional Planning Organization:

The draft Regional Transportation Plan 2030 identifies transportation improvements, strategies, and actions that will shape our regional transportation system into the future. The objective of the plan is to build agreement on transportation investments that balance roadway, public transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and other transportation needs, while supporting regional land use, economic, and environmental goals.

Unfortunately, the plan seems to be completely void of any recognition of peak oil and the end of cheap oil.

Fortunately, anyone can submit a comment at the bottom of the organization's Web page.

State unveils home energy, heating programs

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

From an article in the LaCrosse Tribune:

Wisconsin will offer a new “furnace bounty” to homeowners that upgrade to more energy-efficient models as part of the state’s energy-saving incentive programs, the Doyle administration announced Friday.

The programs are designed to help working families save on their heating bills this winter, as well as assist low-income households, according to the statement from Gov. Jim Doyle’s office.

“As energy costs remain high, it is important for people to realize they have the ability to reduce energy consumption without sacrificing comfort or drastically altering their lifestyle,” Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton said during an appearance Friday in La Crosse.

The programs also include a new home performance implementation bonus and rebates for energy-efficient light bulbs.

Madison Peak Oil meets noon, Thurs., Oct. 5

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Meeting Date and Time: October 5, 2006, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Location: RENEW Wisconsin Conference Room, 222 S. Hamilton Street

DRAFT Agenda



3.Preparations for Randy Udall speech (Community Office for Resource Efficiency)
7:00 p.m., October 18, Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St.
- Booth
- Sign up sheet at event
- Other

4.Peak Oil for local officials
a. Discussion of next steps for local government outline (attached)
b. Possible collaboration with Sustain Dane

5.Co-sponsorship of events with Sustain Dane
a. Tuesday, Oct. 10. David Korten, The Great Turning Point. First Unitarian, 7:30 p.m.

a. What’s happening at city, county, and state level?

7.Next meeting: Nov. 2

State firm's crane runs on veggie oil

Monday, October 02, 2006

From The Capital Times on September 30, 2006:

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Wisconsin company is testing a crane that uses vegetable oil to run its hydraulic lift system.

Most hydraulic systems use petroleum products that can damage the environment if spilled. Manitowoc Crane Group designed its truck-mounted crane to be used in or near wetlands, lakes and other environmentally sensitive areas.

"It worked just like a regular boom truck. No problems," said Jeff Johnson, chief operating officer of Scott Powerline and Utility Equipment, a Louisiana company testing the crane.

Manitowoc Crane Group had been worried that the vegetable oil would degrade or become rancid with heavy use, said John Lukow, vice president of sales and marketing.

But so far, the test has gone well. Scott Powerline has put more than 1,000 hours on its crane as it installs power line polls near Dallas.

Manitowoc now plans to offer its eco-friendly crane to others. In addition to using vegetable oil in the hydraulic system, the crane runs on a soy-based biodiesel fuel.

The company doesn't expect the veggie crane to be a big seller, but a spokesman said it gives construction companies another option.

"You never know where they're going to end up, and where there are going to be environmental options," spokesman Tom Cioni said.

Rules of downtown development

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hans Noeldner submitted another tongue-in-cheek look at our four-wheeled world:

I am a trustee in the village of Oregon, Wisconsin, a rapidly growing bedroom community of about 8,300 near Madison, Wisconsin. Like small downtowns everywhere in the United States, ours nearly collapsed in recent decades. During the past few months another trustee and I, along with help from some citizens, have been working on plans to revitalize our downtown. We held four listening sessions and a public forum. It was after that public forum I finally comprehended the rules of the game I have been trying to play.

And here they are - the rules of a game called, “Let’s Revitalize Downtown Oregon!” Some of the rules consist of objections that have been raised against wasting valuable downtown parking space on a “square” or “plaza” – i.e. a large contiguous pedestrian area for public gatherings and events. Some pertain to smooth flow of motor vehicle traffic. Other rules comprise underlying assumptions that everyone knows but no one speaks aloud. The axiomatic rules are at the end of the list.

Tonight (Sept. 27) - Moving toward community energy independence

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Local Living Communities
Featuring Kelley Rajala
7:00pm, Wednesday September 27, 2006
UW-Arboretum (1207 Seminole Highway, Madison)
Free and Open to the Public

As individuals and communities are making a conscious shift towards healthier places, the Livability Project has used innovative methodologies to help them evolve towards renewable energy independence and to develop customized solutions appropriate for their community. Kelley Rajala, Executive Director of the Livability Project will give at free presentation open to the public on Wednesday, September 27th at 7:00pm at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum (1207 Seminole Highway, Madison). Kelley will provide insights into the local living economies movement and cover the intersection of a diverse range of subjects including energy, personal health, urban planning and biomimicry.

This free event is sponsored by Sustain Dane, Madison Peak Oil Group and Dane County Buy Local Initiative and hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Arboretum.

Focus on Energy funds solar testing lab

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Focus on Energy supplied the funds for the $20,000 grant announced by Governor Doyle to the Madison Area Technical College (MATC) to cover start-up costs associated with the development of the Northern Solar Testing and Certification Facility, only the second testing lab in the country.

Don with check.jpg
Don Wichert, Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Program Director, stands with the ceremonial check from Focus on Energy.

Doyle Proposes Public, Private Investments to Develop Renewable Energy

Monday, September 25, 2006

Doyle for blogs.jpg

From a media release issued by Governor Doyle's office when he announced his plans at the Madison Area Technical College on Monday, September 25:

Part of Broad Effort to Create 17,000 High End Jobs in Wisconsin

Governor Jim Doyle today unveiled plans to grow Bioindustry and Renewable Energy in Wisconsin through a $450 million public and private investment strategy – including nearly $80 million from the state - in renewable fuel sources to help the nation achieve energy independence. The Governor’s proposal, which will be included in his budget next year, is part of a broad effort to make Wisconsin the nation’s leader in energy independence and create 17,000 jobs in our state.

“Here in Wisconsin, we’re doing our part and setting an example for the nation in energy independence,” Governor Doyle said. “This new state funding will encourage innovative new energy technologies across our state that will help the nation kick its addiction to oil. As I’ve always said, when it comes to our energy future, we should be more dependent on the Midwest, and less dependent on the Mideast.”

Read the full release RENEW's blog.

Turbine open house - Byron, Wisconsin

Friday, September 22, 2006

Take a tour of the We Energies Byron wind turbines Saturday, Sept. 23. The guided tours take about 30 minutes and begin every half hour between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Visitors will have an opportunity to enter the tower base and watch the wind turbine shut down and be restarted.

Constructed in 1999, the two wind turbines feature 75-foot blades mounted on 215-foot steel towers, for a total height of 290 feet. Depending on wind speed, each turbine can generate 660 kilowatts of electricity for a total output of 1.3 megawatts. The output supplies power to customers of the We Energies Energy for Tomorrow renewable energy program (

Attend a tour or visit our Web site to learn more about wind turbines, the importance of wind and other renewable energy sources to generate power, and We Energies' plans for future renewable energy projects.

Representatives from RENEW Wisconsin, Focus on Energy and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association also will be on site to answer questions about customer-owned wind turbines and solar installations.

Tour reservations are not needed for individuals or small groups, but groups of 10 or more should call (414) 221-4264 to reserve a specific tour time.

The wind turbines are located at 5656 County Road F in Byron, Wis.

From the south:
• Take Hwy 41 north to Hwy 49 (Waupun exit).
• Go west on Hwy 49 one-half mile to stop sign.
• Turn north on Hwy 175.
• Follow Hwy 175 north for three miles.
• Turn east on CT Hwy F and follow one-half mile to turbine site.

From the north:
• Take Hwy 41 south to CT Hwy B exit.
• Turn west on CT Hwy B and follow for one-half mile.
• Turn south on Hwy 175.
• Go south on Hwy 175 for two miles.
• Turn east on CT Hwy F and follow for one-half mile to turbine site.

$3 billion pledged to fight warming, wean ourselves from oil

Thursday, September 21, 2006

In pledging $3 billion to fight global warming, Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson said, "We have to wean ourselves off our dependence on coal and fossil fuels. Our generation has the knowledge, it has the financial resources and as importantly it has the will power to do so."

"We are very pleased today to be making a commitment to invest 100 percent of all future proceeds to the Virgin Group from our transportation interest, both our trains and airline businesses, into tackling global warming," Branson told a news conference at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.

Read the full story at CNN Money.

Public transit to outskirts needed for fewer villagers on roads

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Capital Times on September 20 ran the following letter to the editor from frequent blog contibutor Hans Noeldner:

Dear Editor: When it comes to motor vehicle "runoff," Fitchburg is "downhill" from Oregon. Many Oregonians frequently drive on Fitchburg's roads and highways, but few Fitchburg residents reciprocate. The burden is almost entirely one-sided, so Oregonians may not care to think much about the effects of their vehicle travel.

And what about Madison? With few exceptions (Middleton), the bedroom communities and towns surrounding Madison impose far more traffic on Madison than vice versa. We arrive from our suburbs and exurbs and formerly independent villages, and Madison had better make room for us to drive and park. Too bad if people in the neighborhoods through which we drive don't welcome the pollution, hazards, and unpleasant side effects.

Do the municipalities that surround Madison have any obligation to restrain our generation of Madison-bound traffic? We have grudgingly formed a Capital Area Regional Planning Commission to limit storm water runoff, but we reject any limits on the motor vehicle runoff we generate by driving wherever, whenever, and as much as we please. Not that the county, state and federal government are doing anything significant to restrain us.

The whole situation among municipalities is grossly unfair and unjust. Even worse, our fierce determination to drive at all costs is exacerbating our addiction to oil, morally and economically bankrupting our nation to import the stuff, accelerating climate change, and rapidly suffocating a once-verdant Dane County under asphalt.

Leaders in smaller municipalities need not do a damn thing.

We can dismiss the worsening impacts of our driving: "Growth is progress, and more traffic is inevitable!"

We can justify the status quo: "People want to drive and we're just giving them what they want."

We can plead impotence: "Traffic problems must be dealt with at the county, state and federal levels."

Or we can point to vague promises: "Our new comprehensive plan includes our goal to 'minimize absolute reliance on the automobile.'"

Truthfully, we have scarcely begun. Even within this village itself, a tiny fraction of Oregon residents walk or bicycle for day-to-day errands, while at least 98 percent still drive.

The percentage of children who walk or bicycle to school has plummeted (nationwide, from over 66 percent in 1970 to 10 percent in 2003.) Streets near our schools and playing fields are so clogged with motorists that youngsters who still walk or bike are often endangered.

And month after month, more single-occupancy commuter vehicles head north from Oregon to Fitchburg and Madison every morning.

We must do far better - we must lead! Establishing public transit in the Oregon-Stoughton-Evansville area will be an excellent start.

Hans Noeldner
Oregon trustee

Don’t be fooled by oil-based fuel ‘savings’

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Country Today, which covers more renewable energy news than any other state newspaper, carried an editorial comment by Scott Schultz:

Ah, the difference a couple of weeks and a few pennies can make. People have started to smile again as they fill up their automobiles and farm gas and fuel tanks; the gas and diesel fuel prices have been dropping, after all.

Sounds of rejoicing can sometimes be heard within gas station walls as people celebrate $2.64 per gallon gasoline — still far more expensive than it was a few years ago, but lower than it was even a year ago. . . .

Stop the rejoicing. It's a trap, if we let it be. . . .

The bottom line: The savings seen in recent days aren’t real, and put into perspective, aren’t really even savings. The only real savings will be the day
when there is a plethora of energy sources fueling our society.

The rural world will be a better place the day foreign oil is but a memory and when the only oils come out of farmers’ fields.

To read the complete commentary go to The Country Today, and click on page 8A in the edition dated September 13, 2006.

Utility exec wants state goal of reducing electric use by 10%

Friday, September 15, 2006

A story by Thomas Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the stockholders' meeting of Wisconsin Public Power Incorporated:

A state utility leader called on Wisconsin to move further to encourage energy conservation as a way to reduce electricity prices.

"Wisconsin's energy policy doesn't go far enough in advancing the state as a leader in conservation and energy efficiency," said Roy Thilly, president and chief executive of Wisconsin Public Power Inc.

"Now is the time for Wisconsin to establish strong and aggressive policies that lower electric bills and delay the need for new power plants," he said.

Thilly issued his call for greater attention to conservation during the annual meeting of the Sun Prairie-based power company that represents municipal utilities across the state, including Cedarburg, Hartford, Oconomowoc and Slinger.

The company is proposing that the state establish a statewide goal to reduce electric use by existing customers by 10% and to reduce overall annual growth in demand to 1% within 10 years.

Electricity demand is growing at a pace of about 2% per year, according to state Public Service Commission estimates.

Muscoda company lights wood-fired boiler

Thursday, September 14, 2006

From Wisconins' Small Business Times:

Muscoda Protein Products has completed construction of a new state-of-the-art, wood-fired boiler that will reduce the company's natural gas purchases by an estimated 600,000 therms each year, enough to heat more than 650 Wisconsin homes.

An open house to unveil the new burner will take place Friday, Sept. 22, at 10:30 a.m. in the company's plant at 960 Industrial Ave. in Muscoda's Industrial Park.

The bulk of the company's wood supply will come from the nearby Nelson hardwoods in the industrial park.

Scott Meister, a co-owner of the company, said, "This project will help assure the financial health of MPP at a time when skyrocketing natural gas prices are hurting our industry. It represents an additional commitment by MPP to the growth of our business and the Muscoda community."

Funding for the project came from internal funds, a loan from Community First Bank of Wisconsin, a $350,000 subordinated loan from CleanTech Partners Inc. and a $35,000 grant from Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy program.

Founded in 1981, Muscoda Protein Products buys whey from local cheese factories and processes it into whey protein concentrate and lactose.

Editorial: Lessons from the pump

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

An editorial from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Despite a year of soaring gas prices, we're no further along at developing a national plan for weaning ourselves from foreign oil. Despite the welcome news of a vast new oil field, the reality is even that only buys us more time. It's not a fix. The United States is importing two-thirds of its oil, and much of it is coming from thuggish nations that don't particularly like us, don't share our values and don't mind wagging the dog by threatening supplies. As for global warming, there's little question among most reputable scientists that climate change is taking place and that human activity is a significant factor. . . .

It's time to take conservation and development of new technologies seriously. It's time for a national commitment, led by the president.

Canadian crude oil production dropped in 2005

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A CBC story by James Stevenson reports:

Canada's oil production dropped in 2005 for the first in six years as conventional supplies wane, but that should change as oilsands operations continue their rapid ramp-up.

According to a Statistics Canada report released Monday, companies pumped out 858 million barrels of crude last year, down 2.3 per cent from the year before. One of the key reasons for this drop was a major fire at Suncor Energy (TSX:SU), which cut production at Canada's second largest oilsands operation in half for three-quarters of the year.

"In general, this occurred mostly because of lower output from the conventional sector as well as unplanned interruptions in the non-conventional sector," the statistics agency said.

With Suncor's operations repaired and producing more than pre-fire levels, Canada's oilsands production hit a record 1.2 million daily barrels earlier this year, said Greg Stringham, vice-president of markets for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

A major expansion at the Syncrude joint venture, Canada's largest oilsands producer, has been slow coming on line due to odour emissions. But when up and running, the $8.4 billion expansion is expected to push Syncrude's production to about 350,000 barrels per day.

Any increase in overall Canadian oil production will have to come from greater oilsands output, Stringham said, as "conventional oil has been on a mild and extended decline since about 1997."

Lessons for Madison from Sustainable Sweden Tour

Friday, September 08, 2006

Report on the
2006 Sustainable Sweden Tour
Monday, September 11
Monona Terrace, Madison
7:00 p.m.

Participants in the tour will highlight sustainability activities by municipalities, businesses and non-profits in communities throughout Sweden.

Featuring Sherrie Gruder, City of Madison Sustainable Design and Energy Committee; Lisa MacKinnon, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin; Robbie Webber, City of Madison alderperson; Chuck Erickson, Dane County supervisor; Susan Schmitz, Downtown Madison Inc.

Sponsored by Sustain Dane and Madison Peak Oil Group.

More information at Sustain Dane.

Lessons for Madison from Sustainable Sweden Tour

Report on the
2006 Sustainable Sweden Tour
Monona Terrace, Madison
7:00 p.m.

Participants in the tour will highlight sustainability activities by municipalities, businesses and non-profits in communities throughout Sweden.

Featuring Sherrie Gruder, City of Madison Sustainable Design and Energy Committee; Lisa MacKinnon, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin; Robbie Webber, City of Madison alderperson; Chuck Erickson, Dane County supervisor; Susan Schmitz, Downtown Madison Inc.

Sponsored by Sustain Dane and Madison Peak Oil Group.

More information at article by John Myers in the Duluth News Tribure:

The Sierra Club has criticized large-scale biomass projects because they encourage public land managers to cut even more trees from forests already heavily logged for mills, said Clyde Hanson of Tofte, Sierra Club activist.

"All biomass has an ecological function. Removing it takes nutrients and organic material out of the land. Do it long enough and the biological productivity of the soil falls," Hanson said.

Hanson said Minnesota taxpayers and electricity customers will end up paying more as biomass projects are subsidized. Because of the impact on the forest, Hanson said biomass shouldn't be considered "green" energy.

But Mike Demchik, a forestry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point who is studying the test plots before and after biomass harvesting, said more than enough woody debris is left behind at biomass harvesting sites.

"We're trying to figure out what we can take out and not have a negative impact," Demchik said. "But they're never going to take everything off a site. There's always some material left behind."

The key, Demchik said, is the fertility of the soil. And most forest soil in Minnesota is up to the task.

"I'm really excited about this," Demchik said. "It can help reduce fire danger in some spots where there's no interest from traditional markets. This won't work everywhere. But it should work at enough locations to make it viable."

New Gulf of Mexico oil find isn't much

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Despite the the excitement of news headline writers, the reported discovery of a new Gulf of Mexico oil field will, at best, only slow the decline in annual U.S. production in coming years.

According to various news stories:

It could be the biggest domestic oil find in 38 years, but production is years away, and even then it won't reverse the nation's growing reliance on imports or have any meaningful effect at the gasoline pump.

A group led by Chevron has tapped a petroleum pool that lies 270 miles south of New Orleans in a region that could hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil — more than Alaska's Prudhoe Bay.

Experts predicted Chevron's successful test drill in its Walker Ridge area some 5.3 miles below the gulf waters may lead to 750,000 barrels of new daily U.S. crude-oil production within six years.

However, according to The Seattle Times version of the news:

Some analysts urged caution in inferring too much, too soon.

"One well doesn't tell you a lot of information," said Matthew Simmons, a Houston investment banker and author of "Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the Global Economy."

The Associated Press story also dampened the significance of the find:

``It's a nice positive, but the US still has a big difference between its consumption and indigenous production," said Art Smith, chief executive of energy consultant John S. Herold. ``We'll still be importing more than 50 percent of our oil needs."

End of cheap oil will trump teens' freedom

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hans Noeldner sent the following letter to the editor in response to a story titled For Teens, Freedom:

Dear Editor:

The Wisconsin State Journal stubbornly refuses to connect the dots.

To see what I mean, read the September 1, 2006 lead story “For Teens, Freedom; For Parents, Worry”, and try to find any of the following words: “addiction”, “oil”, “Iraq”, “sprawl”, “global”, or “warming”. No luck? Isn’t it astonishing that Madison’s largest newspaper fails to discern any noteworthy relationship between these looming crises and that most important milestone in the life of adolescents - their transition from addiction to being driven everywhere by Mom and Dad into addiction to driving themselves?

Nor will you find any recognition that fifty years of sprawling, low-density suburban and exurban development has destroyed the practicality of walking and bicycling for most contemporary youth. We-the-boomers have hijacked a precious freedom - to move between the “A”s and “B”s in one’s community without a two-ton motorized exoskeleton.

How is such mind-numbing denial possible? How absurd to write “For Teens, Freedom…”, when it has become crystal clear that freedom which flows from oil wells is tyranny! If I didn’t suspect that at least one person at the Wisconsin State Journal is beginning to see the light (your Prius-driving curmudgeon Bill Weineke), I would cease reading your paper altogether.


Hans Noeldner
133 West Lincoln Street
Oregon, WI 53575

Stats of Confusion

Friday, September 01, 2006

Petroleum and Natural Gas Watch
Vol. 5, Number 3
August 31, 2006
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin

One of the hazards involved in energy analysis is placing too much emphasis on raw data, like the kind one finds in the U.S. Energy Information Agency’s weekly and monthly reports. While rawness may be a desirable attribute in certain meats and vegetables, it is less desirable in statistical information that is susceptible to errors requiring a correction at some later point. It is even more exasperating when the changes are significant enough to warrant junking a hypothesis that explained the earlier results well but doesn’t fit at all with the newly redrawn picture.

The latest example of this recurring pattern occurred this week when EIA released a compilation of supply and consumption data from January through June this year. In that statistical summary, EIA reported that demand for gasoline inched up by 0.6% from the year-earlier period. But in the weekly reports, EIA’s estimates of increased demand had been ranging between 1.5% and 2%.

Notwithstanding that contradictory finding, EIA reported yesterday that demand for gasoline in the four-week period ending August 25 was 1.6% higher than the same four-week period last year. Evidently, EIA is in no hurry to recalibrate the dials and instruments it uses for compiling its status reports. Analysts and traders, take note!

The difference between these numbers—a full percentage point—is not trivial. Considering that population is growing at a 1% clip annually, the higher number suggests that motorists are not at all fazed by $2.50 to $3.00 per gallon gasoline, while the lower figure indicates that these prices are having some impact on driving habits. That a modest cutback in discretionary driving is underway would make sense given declining consumer confidence and the slowdown in the housing sector. Actual per capita reductions in gasoline consumption are bound to take some of the fizz out of energy markets, at least in the short term.

But this incident raises a disturbing question: if the gasoline demand numbers are unreliable, how much trust can we place in other data reported in EIA’s weekly and monthly bulletins? Or, put another way, how does one know that a significant trend is emerging given the probabilities of a statistical revision later on?

Let us illustrate this dilemma by looking at the question of net export capacity. There has been some discussion in various Peak Oil circles suggesting that the amount of global petroleum available for export to other nations may have peaked late last year. But you’d never know that moment had passed from looking at EIA’s data. Imports of crude and refined products to the U.S. are running 1% above 2005’s totals, and last year’s import volumes were 3% higher than in 2004.

Furthermore, the most recent bulletin reported that crude oil imports averaged 11.2 million barrels per day. That total, according to EIA, is “the second highest volume of crude oil imports ever.” In the effort to ensure a continuous expansion of petroleum supplies available for the motoring public, increases in import volumes must exceed the decrease in domestic output.

But the United States is not the only country that is lapping up more oil from overseas sources. Imports are on the rise in China, India, Indonesia (now the only OPEC nation that imports more oil than it exports) and the United Kingdom, which may have become a net importer of oil this year.

Does this mean that those who contend that net global export capacity has peaked have got it wrong? Not necessarily. Perhaps EIA’s current estimates of petroleum imports will be revised downward in a subsequent report. Perhaps there is more ethanol circulating around the world than is revealed through present statistical measures. Maybe the fuel shortages cropping up in such oil-rich hot spots as Iraq and Iran will trigger policy changes that will take a larger share of their output out of the global marketplace. And perhaps more countries will follow Zimbabwe’s descent into wholesale economic ruin and become, for all intents and purposes, oil-free zones.

Trying to determine where we are along the petroleum extraction curve is a little like driving through the countryside at night to get to an unfamiliar destination. No matter how intently we peer out of the windshield searching for clues indicating its whereabouts, we’re liable to pass it and keep on going until we encounter signposts warning us of a steep downslope ahead.


Energy Information Administration, Weekly Petroleum Status Report, week ending August 25 2006.

Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review August 2006, Table 3.1a


Petroleum and Natural Gas Watch is a RENEW Wisconsin initiative tracking the
supply demand equation for these fossil fuels, and analyzing its effects on prices,
consumption levels, and the development of energy conservation strategies and renewable energy alternatives. For more information on the global and national petroleum and natural gas supply picture, visit "The End of Cheap Oil" section in RENEW Wisconsin's web site. These commentaries also posted on RENEW’s blog
and Madison Peak Oil Group’s blog.

Why haven't we banned the incandescent light bulb?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

From "Death to the Incandescent" by Kelpie Wilson as posted on Truth Out:

More than 90 percent of the energy consumed by a standard incandescent bulb is given off as heat, while only 10 percent is converted into light. That's a 10 percent efficiency of converting electricity to light.

By contrast, a compact fluorescent (CF) light bulb is from 35 percent to 66 percent efficient, depending on the design. The new LED lights are even more efficient. By one estimate, if every American household changed just three incandescent light bulbs to CF bulbs, we could eliminate 11 fossil-fuel-fired power plants.

If we can stop even a fraction of those new coal plants being built just by changing our light bulbs, shouldn't we do it already? And why haven't we banned the incandescent bulb yet? When we learned that leaded gas was poisoning kids' brains, we phased it out. Those bulbs are poisoning our kids' future.

But as long as the old-fashioned filament bulb sits there on the store shelves, clear or frosted, white or colored, cheap and abundant, there will always be some of us who will take them home and screw them in.

That's why we need to ban the bulb. It's the kind of political action we could be marching and protesting about. There is an organization working in Britain to ban the incandescent bulb, but I don't know of a serious effort in the US.

More evangelicals see a need to protect the planet

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rob Zaleski, writing in The Capital Times, looks at the evangelical movement's growing recognition of global warming and energy conservation:

Maybe it's not hopeless after all.

Maybe Americans will wake up in time to help reverse global warming and, in the process, help rescue the planet.

At least, that's what some are suggesting after Pat Robertson, of all people, recently announced that he's a global warming convert.

Yes, it's true, the religious right's shoot-from-the-hip leader told his presumably stunned followers during a broadcast of his "700 Club" a few weeks ago.

"It is getting hotter, and the ice caps are melting, and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air," said Robertson, a longtime global warming skeptic. "And if we are contributing to the destruction of the planet, we need to do something about it."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

This blog does not intend to endorse any candidates in this fall's elections; yet, it's important to know their positions on peak oil and appropriate responses. It is in this spirit that the blog includes an editorial piece from The Capital Times with Dave Zweifel's perception of Mark Green's position on rebuilding American's railroads:

If you're among the growing legions who see the need to bring viable passenger rail service to this part of the country, you're not going to want to vote for Mark Green for governor.

Green has obviously spent too much time with the Washington faction that doesn't mind throwing countless billions to the highway cabal, but is "horrified" whenever Amtrak comes looking for a small handout that might make riding in a train just a tad more convenient.

In fact, according to a story on Wisconsin Public Radio earlier this week, Green claimed to have never heard of the years-long initiative to get high-speed rail into the Midwest, particularly in the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison-Minneapolis corridor.

Now that, for a man who wants to be the governor of our state, is nothing short of astounding.
Dave Zweifel: Green utterly in the dark about rail
Photo by Associated Press
An Amtrak train gets ready to head out from Portland. Me.

When Mark Green was in the Legislature, after all, it was Tommy Thompson, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, who first proposed bringing high-speed rail into our state and became one of its biggest champions.

Green further told WPR that he worries about the deficits that passenger rail is running in this country, obviously oblivious to the reasons why. He doesn't know, for instance, that potential rail passengers have but one time choice per day to catch a train or that whenever there's a problem with a freight train, Amtrak gets shoved to the side. The Bush administration and its supporters in Congress like Green himself have succeeded in starving passenger rail to make sure it can't succeed.

His answer, like that of his Wisconsin Republican colleague to the south, James Sensenbrenner, is to claim that the private sector ought to run passenger rail, as if that hasn't been tried and miserably failed before. If private interests ought to be paying for and running the rails (as, of course, the freight lines do), then perhaps the private interests who clog our public highways with longer and bigger trucks ought to be building and owning their own roads. Or why not advocate that the airlines ought to pay for their own airports?

While Mark Green is making uninformed comments about passenger rail service (I wonder if he's ever ridden a train), Jim Doyle is pushing the feds to get behind the Midwest High Speed initiative. He's even advocated extending high-speed passenger rail from Milwaukee to Green Bay in Green's own congressional district, something Thompson did too.

But Green is probably not aware of that either.

World peak oil conference, Boston, Oct. 25-27

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil-USA (ASPO-USA) and Boston University (BU) will co-sponsor the 2006 World Oil Conference, Time for Action: A Midnight Ride for Peak Oil, on the BU campus October 25-27, 2006. The Conference will bring energy experts from around the world to discuss the likely timing, impacts, and intelligent responses to the growing Peak Oil challenge. Virtually every sector of our society and economy will be affected by Peak Oil, from transportation, manufacturing, air freight, and agriculture, to homebuilding, city planning, and finance.

“For the first time in history, demand for petroleum could outpace world supply for a host of reasons – including geologic limits, exploding nationalism, civil wars, and skyrocketing demand in China and India,” says Steve Andrews, a co-founder of ASPO-USA. “We’re not saying that we’re ‘running out of oil’ when the peak hits. We’re saying the world is running out of cheap oil. We’ll simply produce less oil each year after the peak, while demand continues to increase. So peak oil is an ambush-in-waiting.”

As a nation long ‘addicted to oil,’ why didn’t we see the early warning signs and go to rehab years ago?

Build a post-peak infrastructure with higher gas tax

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Energy-economist and transport-economist Charles Komanoff wrote:

Today, America's and the world's prodigal use of fossil fuels is creating twin crises: a climate crisis from emissions of heat-trapping pollution into the atmosphere, and a security crisis self-created by the industrial world's thirst for other people's oil.

We can solve both crises, but only if we relinquish deep-seated beliefs about fuels and energy. And the attitude we must fling overboard first is our sense of entitlement to cheap energy. We need to recognize that energy does not cost too much; in fact, it doesn't cost nearly enough. To preserve Earth's climate, and wrest political authority from the corporate oil barons and petrodollar sheiks, we must conserve fuel massively and permanently, starting now.

RENEW's executive director Michael Vickerman offers another dimension to Komanoff's propsal -- rebuild a post-peak petroleum infrastructure:

Agreed that current energy prices are, across the board, too low and as such encourage wasteful consumption.

According to EIA weekly petroleum reports, demand for gasoline in 2006 is running 1.5 – 2.0% above 2005 levels. Even with population growth taken into account, it would appear that high fuel prices have had no material effect on gasoline/diesel consumption. But they are taking a fair amount of starch out of the current economic expansion, leaving open the distinct possibility of a recession for 2007, which would not be easy to control given ballooning public and private debt.

I do think we need to raise taxes on fuel, but not for the purpose advocated in the Charles Komanoff essay. A fuel tax (or a windfall profits tax) is needed to build (or rebuild, in some cases) what I would call the post-peak petroleum infrastructure. The centerpiece of that endeavor would be the strengthening of non-private car, non-truck modes of transporting people and goods. Serious public dollars are needed to refurbish and electrify railroad corridors, increase group transport options (buses, streetcars, community cars, ferries, etc.). This sort of funding is not going to come from the private sector, because it is too wedded to the status quo. Therefore, a tax is the only other vehicle for collecting funds for this purpose, though I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to protect such proceeds from diversion by Congressional buccaneers toward other, less noble purposes, like fighting wars in the Mideast. More than $300 billion has been already spent on the current war/occupation of Iraq, all of it charged on the national Visa card. The obligation to pay off these accumulating expenses weakens our capacity to underwrite a more sustainable transportation infrastructure out of general revenues. The only alternative would be a pay-as-you-go mechanism that collects petroleum-based wealth (which is currently being channeled into increasingly unproductive ends like high-end golf-course communities, helicopter skiing, spas for pets, vanity expeditions up Mt. Everest etc.) and redeploys it into transportation modes that will make us less abjectly dependent on petroleum for moving goods and people around.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hans Noeldner offers "autocism" as a new term in our vocabulary:

Autocism – the belief that motorists have greater transportation rights than pedestrians, bicyclists, mass transit users, equestrians, teamsters, and other non-motorists.

Autocism is the policy basis for funding, constructing, and policing transportation infrastructure that is usually separate and highly unequal. For example, most public highways and roads are open to non-motorists in principle. Given their special rights and sheer numbers, however, motorists endanger and intimidate potential users of other transportation modes to such an extent that few venture to try. Moreover, by designing thoroughfares primarily for the convenience of motorists, planners and transportation engineers thereby catalyze surrounding low-density development that is spatially impractical for non-motoring modes. Thus most of our “public” highways and roads, and many of our streets, have been rendered the near-exclusive segregated domain of motorists.

DISCLAIMER: Hans Noeldner is a Trustee in the Village of Oregon, Wisconsin. The views herein do not necessarily represent those of the Oregon Village Board.

The peak in a picture

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The chart above tells the tale of peak oil, which occurs at the top of the curve. The future "rests" on the downside. (From the Association for the Study of Peak Oil - ASPO)

A different approach to nuclear power

Monday, August 21, 2006

John Frantz, MD, emeritus member of RENEW's board of directors, and prolific writer, offers insights into a different nuclear technology:

We should increase research in ADS [Accelorator Driven System] technology so we are less likely to feel compelled to build more conventional nuclear power plants--they are susceptible to meltdown, produce more long lived waste, and can be used to produce pure Pu239, a raw material for bombs. Thorium fueled nuclear power does look very promising in the long term. After thorough demonstration of no danger of meltdown, it could even be incorporated in cogeneration projects. For more information see:

You can read John's full discussion of nuclear power generation and ADS here.

John also posts his diverse writings on his own Web site.

Evansville site for biodiesel plant and possibly soybean crushing plant

Friday, August 18, 2006

"Localization" of our economy holds a key to coping successfully wiht the end of cheap oil. Localization certainly applies to getting motor fuel from ethanol, according to a story by Nathan Leaf in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Evansville is on the verge of becoming Wisconsin's one-stop shop for biodiesel fuel. And it's all happening fairly quickly for the northwestern Rock County community.

North Prairie Productions, Waterloo, has announced plans to build a 45 million-gallon refinery that will convert soybean oil into biodiesel.

And Thursday morning, Landmark Services Cooperative of Cottage Grove told business leaders in Evansville that it has commissioned an economic feasibility study for what would be the state's first soybean processing plant adjacent to the biodiesel plant.