Still twilight for oil

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mathew Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert presented his latest analysis of peak oil at the Security Analysts of San Francisco and NAPIA Meeting on May 26. Simmons' posted his excellent Power Point presentation on the Web site of

Pro and con meetings on ATC projects

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Groups are forming to question the construction plans of the American Transmission Company (ATC).

Stop ATC
plans a series of meetings in the next few weeks:
Waunakee Town Hall Meeting - Thursday, 1 June 2006, 19:00
West Waubesa Town Hall Meeting - Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 19:00
Orchard Ridge Town Hall - Tuesday, 13 June 2006, 18:30
Oregon Stop ATC Meeting - Thursday, 15 June 2006, 19:00

Similarly, ATC plans a number of public meetings and open houses on the Rockdale-West Middleton project:
Tuesday, June 20, 2-8 PM
Lakeview Church
2200 Lincoln Ave.

Wednesday, June 21, 2-8 PM
Alliant Energy Center, Madison

Monday, June 26, 2-8 PM
Quality Inn & Suites- Fitchburg
2969 Cahill Main

Tuesday, June 27, 2-8 PM
The Heights Event Center (located in the MAC Sports Center)- Verona
411 Prairie Heights Drive

Wednesday, June 28, 2-8 PM
St. John's Lutheran Church
625 E. Netherwood

An Inconvenient Truth about global warming

Friday, May 26, 2006

A new documentary An Inconvenient Truth opens at the Westgate theater on June 16:
Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics, and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced. Enter the film An Inconvenient Truth, opening later this month. A Sundance festival hit, An Inconvenient Truth offers a passionate and inspirational look at former Vice President Al Gore's fervent crusade to halt global warming's deadly progress in its tracks by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it.

End of the Oil Era, June 23 & 25

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The fabulous Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair in Custer, Wisconsin (just 7 miles east of Stevens Point) offers a presentation titled The End of the Oil Era: How and When. The Fair program describes the presentation:
Presenting historical and statistical data projecting the end of the oil era. It includes trends in energy consumption and production, resource estimates and use of the Hubbert curve to predict the timing and nature of resource exhaustion.
The presentation will be offered four times: Friday, June 23, 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.; Sunday, June 25, 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon.

MG&E asks customers to conserve

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tom Content of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reports on the MG&E stockholer meeting:

Madison - The state's smallest utility will count on support from all its customers to delay construction of a new power plant.

Customers of Madison Gas & Electric Co. will be asked to conserve energy as part of the utility's strategy for having enough power to meet rising demand for electricity in fast-growing Dane County, utility executives said Tuesday.

Speaking to more than 1,800 shareholders at the company's annual shareholders meeting, Gary Wolter, MGE Energy Inc. chairman, president and chief executive, announced a new energy-efficiency initiative, Power Tomorrow. MGE Energy is the parent company of Madison Gas & Electric, a utility with about 136,000 customers in Madison and several nearby communities within Dane County.

Support more ethanol

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

RENEW Wisconsin registered at a Senate hearing in support of Senate Bill 723, which would recue the motor fuel tax on E85 fuel (15% gasoline, 85% ethanol) in Wisconsin.

Brett Hulsey, Better Environmental Solutions, submitted testimony, which included the following excerpt:
There is a great need to expand the use of 85% ethanol (E85) in Wisconsin. More than 100,000 flexible fuel vehicles only burn an average of seven gallons of E85 each, although E85 sells for up on $1 less than regular gasoline. There are also only 25 E85 stations in the state, though this number is growing.

We have a simple choice for our energy future: get more oil from the Mideast or grow more fuel in the Midwest. Homegrown fuels like ethanol are a better, safer environmental solution to our energy challenges than drilling for more oil.

To summarize, we should support producing and selling more ethanol blends to reduce air pollution and cancer risks, help create jobs in Wisconsin, support our family farmers, and could eventually make Wisconsin and America energy more independent. Measures in this bill move us toward cleaner, safer energy.
Read the complete testimony here.

What giant sucking sound?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin's Executive Director, wrote an excellent summary of the speech given by Richard Heinberg at the Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair in June of 2004:

Somewhere between our current fossil fuel binge and the promise of a sustainable energy future lies a geological destiny that threatens to plunge the world into economic hardship and warfare. That inescapable event is Peak Oil, and, if Richard Heinberg, author of The Party’s Over, is correct, its arrival will usher in a time of unprecedented stress and turmoil, the likes of which we Americans are completely unprepared to deal with.

Speaking at the June 2004 Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin, Heinberg characterized the global embrace of hydrocarbons as “the biggest party in history” and noted that the United States has been “at the center of the oil empire” over the last century.
This year's Fair features James Howard Kunstler, an equally insight and entertaining speaker and author, at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, Custer, Wisconsin (just a few miles east of Stevens Ponit).

Bill would cut state gas tax on E-85 ethanol

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Senate holds a hearing on Tuesday, May 23, at 1:00 PM in room 411 South of the State Capitol, on Senator Mark Miller's bill to reduce the tax on E-85 fuel (gasoline composed of 85% ethanol) to 10 cents a gallon from the current motor fuel tax of 30.9 cents a gallon.

Read the complete hearing notice.

Read SB 723.

Read the Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo on the bill.

RENEW hosts open house, Monday, May 22

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

RENEW Wisconsin and the other organizations at 222 South Hamilton Street, Madison, invite you to our Spring Open House to celebrate transitions and successes.

We’ll celebrate the change of season, the change of career for Caryl Terryl (retirement from the Sierra Club), and the change of career for Carla Klein (Caryl’s replacement).

Food, beverage, and camaraderie provided free.

Please join us on Monday, May 22 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at 222 S. Hamilton (the corner of South Hamilton, West Wilson, and South Henry).

Better Environmental Solutions
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Madison Audubon Society
RENEW Wisconsin
Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance
Sierra Club
Sustain Dane
Syntropy Energy Consulting
Thrall Conservation Consulting
Trout Unlimited
Wisconsin Wetlands Association

Mayors sound alarm on rising fuel costs and energy crisis

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mayors from Racine, New Berlin, Manitowoc, and Green Bay participated in a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. A press release on the meeting said:
During the Summit, the mayors also pledged to develop an energy/Environment Conservation Action Agenda to be issued at the Conference’s Annual Meeting in June in Las Vegas, NV. Among the items to be included in the Action Agenda, the mayors are calling for the following six initial steps to help alleviate energy problems:
1) Invest more money in transportation options including public and mass transit, bike paths, etc.
2) Encourage at the local, state, and federal level the building or rehabilitation of more energy efficient buildings in both the public and private sector.
3) Encourage automakers to make more energy efficient cars as well as encouraging individuals to buy vehicles that are more energy efficient including alternative fuels, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids.
4) Encourage more investment in renewable and alternative energy through additional incentives.
5) Encourage more mixed-use development to allow people to have more walkable communities.
6) Encourage the public and private sector, as well as citizens, to do their part in conserving energy.

Six-steps to end addiction

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hans Noeldner offers this polemic on the U.S. addiction to oil:

Here's a six-step program to withdraw United States armed forces not only from Iraq, but from the entire Mideast:

(1) Withdraw our nation's demand for Mideast oil. This will withdraw our #1 strategic interest in the Persian Gulf, and thus remove the #1 reason for our nation to meddle and manipulate those nations and peoples. You and I can vote against demand for Mideast oil by withdrawing ourselves from filling stations.

(2) Withdraw our financial support for Mideast governments. The colossal flow of oil money to despots in this region has financed great corruption, strife, and violence. The peoples of the Mideast deserve a chance to find their own way – free of our nation’s meddling. You and I can support these reforms by withdrawing our dollars from oil companies.

(3) Withdraw ourselves from our cars and SUVs and RVs and airplanes and riding lawnmowers and motorboats and other fossil-fueled toys a lot more often. This is the only way we can slash our oil imports in a hurry. Will you and I have to sacrifice? Will it be inconvenient to not jump into our car every time we turn around? YES! But not as inconvenient as spending a year of our life in a foreign nation wearing body armor in 120 degree heat while indignant natives are trying to blow us up.

(4) Withdraw our demands that our politicians lie, sidestep, sugarcoat, spin, one-up, dumb-down, coddle, entertain, and flatter us. Would we-the-people have abided a President who exhorted us to repress our wanton energy consumption during the greatest peacetime expansion in history – and thereby throw our SUV-manufacturing, suburbia-building, drive-everywhere economy into recession? Would we have tolerated candid warnings from his successor that he was about to encircle Mideast oil fields with several hundred thousand additional American forces because you and I covet ever more imported oil?

(5) Elect leaders who tell us the unpleasant truths we are loath to hear: overcoming our addiction to oil is going to hurt; it will cause widespread economic shocks; it will demand sacrifices and profound lifestyle changes from those of us at home. We must listen to leaders who remind us of our duties rather than leaders who sanctify our bloated resource demands. We must follow leaders who envision a just and sustainable future based on reality rather than leaders who cling to hallucinatory dreams of limitless material growth. Then we must join with leaders who challenge us to greatness rather than leaders who indulge our self-righteousness and narcissism. And when I say “we” I don’t mean someone else; I mean you and me.

(6) That’s it! When we-the-people have withdraw the reason for our nation to occupy the Mideast; when we have withdraw the reasons to lie about why we invaded in the first place, when we have withdrawn our excuses to not sacrifice or transform ourselves, then the bridge will be revealed for the men and women in our armed forces to come home.

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

U.S. energy research spending on decline

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A story in The Capital Times by Mike Ivey reports on a recent conference at the Monona Terrace:
Given the decades-long warnings about a looming world energy crisis - punctuated by the recent spike in crude oil prices - you'd assume the U.S. has been ramping up its research and development spending on energy.

Think again.

Since 1980, energy research has fallen from 10 percent to 2 percent of total R&D spending.

And while the Bush administration lists energy research as a "high priority national need" and points to its recent energy bill as evidence, the 2005 federal budget cuts another 11 percent from energy programs.

Changes beginning in response to end of cheap oil

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ethan Johnson, a member of the Madison Peak Oil Group, caught a relevant article by Larry Sandler in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

$3 gas is driving us to conserve, state motorists log fewer miles in 2005

For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, Wisconsin motorists drove fewer miles last year, as high gas prices changed habits in a way that usually takes a recession.

At the same time, statewide public transit ridership last year scored its biggest gains since 1997. And southeastern Wisconsin buses and trains continued to draw more passengers in this year's first quarter, powered by double-digit growth on long-range commuter buses.

Though the shifts are not huge, the latest figures from the state Department of Transportation and local transit systems indicate that paying $3 a gallon for gas is enough for some consumers to start rethinking how they get around.It would seem that high gas prices are starting to affect they way Wisconsinites travel. For the first time in nearly 25 years, Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in Wisconsin went down in 2005.

We Pay Half (WPH)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Many say we will see $3.50/gal this summer. If you factor in Iran, who knows how high it could go. Everyone knows America MUST get off the oil. After September 11, 2001 I expected our President to call on Americans to GET OFF THE OIL. I was expecting a speech like the one JFK gave that motivated us to reach for the moon. As you know, this never happened. Eventually I realized that the only way this is going to happen is for us to do it ourselves. To that end I created this idea and have been trying to make it a reality..

The EPA is offering a research grant opportunity that I believe is a perfect fit for this idea. I have sent an e-mail to a hand picked list of university professors who have experience with government research projects. This research team will apply for the EPA grant, conduct a social-economic experiment and surveys to determine to what extent the American public will support it, project the economic potential of WPH, and identify logistical, social and political obstacles as well as opportunities.

All government grants are awarded based on merit of the proposed research. I believe WPH has merit but your help is needed to verify it. You can help by posting your feedback. Let the professors and the EPA know what you think of WPH. Do you think this idea is worth pursuing? We need to know if Americans will support a plan like this.

Do you have any ideas to improve the plan?

Share any and all of your thoughts.

Tell your friends and family about this Blog post and ask them to post their thoughts on We Pay Half.

Thank you


Transportation, bikes, and local government

Thursday, May 04, 2006

At the meeting of the Madison Peak Oil Group on May 4, we decided to look into opportunities to discuss peak oil in three areas: transportation planning both state and local; Pro Walk/Pro Bike conference at the Monona Terrace; and presentations to annual conventions of local government professional and trade associations.

The limit on the opportunities to inform the general public and decision-makers depends entirely on the number of people active in the group, so mark your calendars for the next meeting from noon to 1:00 p.m. on June 1 in the RENEW Wisconsin office at 222 S. Hamilton Street.

Madison Peak Oil Group meets May 4

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May 4, 2006, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
RENEW Wisconsin Conference Room, 222 S. Hamilton Street


1. Introductions

2. Announcements
a. Report on display at Madison’s 150th birthday party.
b. Report on presentation to Madison sustainability committee. Do we need to follow up? How do we keep it issue alive for the committee?

3. Mission statement

4. Radio show appearance for Kunstler just before the MREA Fair. Do we want to have one or two people make press arrangements if he’s willing?

5. WisDOT Connections 2030. Do we want to form a workgroup on DOT’s transportation plans, monitor, and provide input?

6. International Mercury Conference, August 6-11, Monona Terrace. Do we need a workgroup to plan community events to complement the conference?

7. Presentation or booth at Pro Walk/Pro Bike, Sept. 5-8, Monona Terrace. Mark Daugherty’s presentation would be great. We’d need people to staff a booth.

8. Organizing an event to promote peak oil preparedness for local governments. This would be a major undertaking.

9. Getting speakers, like Heinberg, Sobastopol (CA) mayor, on local media or invited to local conferences/events. Do we need a workgroup to find events and work other organizers, and to arrange media?

10. Formal structure. Does the group need one yet?

11. Other

12. Next meeting: June 1, RENEW

ps. Hybridfest 2006 – July 22, Dane County Fairgrounds