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Peak Oil

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I swear I said the same things that were in this artlcle yesterday in a conversation I had.  That's become one of America's main problems; instead of facing the problems that face our society head on, many Americans continue to run from the problems.  We constantly hide behind the sheild of the "American Dream" beleiving that bigger and better and will result in more happiness and we will be seen as being more prosperous. 

 

It actually scares me sometimes to think of the road in which we are following as a nation.  I guess I was falsely optimistic that with rising oil prices, Americans would start to adjust their lifestyles.  Unfortunately, this hasn't happened for the most part and it's kind of depressing.  I'm starting to wonder what, if anything, it will take for the majority of Americans to realize that change is needed and we are the only one's that can make this change happen.

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I think we're within about $0.30/gal of reaching a "tipping point" where fuel prices will begin to cause enough economic hardship that you'll see new trends emerge. The problem is that at this point such prices are bound to start having serious repercussions on the economy as a whole. We may start seeing "die-offs" of marginal industries that had depended on cheap oil to stay profitable, similar to what we saw in the '70s and '80s with the decimation of our manufacturing base. Countries with higher gas prices have forced themselves to learn to be competitive at that level.

 

We have many painful lessons ahead of us.

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    Welcome back, Mojo - haven't noticed any posts from you in a while.

 

    There is a phrase for the "tipping point." It's called "demand destruction." As the price of oil rises, people will have to use less of it somewhere along the line. Even if your driving habits don't change, some other habit might. For example, if you are used to spending $50 a month on gas and $20 on donuts, and due to gas prices rising, you pay $70 a month for the same amount of gas, you might just skip the donuts. However, it takes oil to make and transport the donuts, and somewhere the donut guy is going out of business.

 

    So, at what price is the tipping point? I don't know, but it seems we are getting closer. People have been whining about oil prices since it was $1.60 - and now its about $2.60! One friend of mine switched from driving a car to riding a motercycle due to gas prices. Meanwhile anaylists are calling for $3.00 for most of next summer.

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I wouldn't be surprised to see $3 gas prices in a few days, if Katrina has damaged the oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf area. One-third of this nation's oil supplies are produced in the Gulf, and more oil, from foreign lands, is offloaded at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Platform and pumped to the mainland via underwater pipelines. There are also numerous oil and natural gas refineries along the coast.

 

We have zero spare capacity, and any loss of this infrastructure for an extended period could cause some significant hardships. But it will be at least couple of days before we learn just how much damage was done. If you haven't bought gas at less than $2.70, do it now just to be safe.

 

KJP


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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    Welcome back, Mojo - haven't noticed any posts from you in a while.

 

 

Yeah, it's been awhile - all will be explained shortly. Nice to be missed though.

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    Peak oil does not necessarily imply increased use of alternative fuels and vehicles. In fact, it may very well imply reduced use of them. There is no true alternative to oil.

 

 

 

   

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I know E-85(85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) is very popular in the Twin Cities and the upper midwest in general.  Too bad Ohio is stupid and doesn't want to act on anything except gay marriage bans and other actions that no one really cares about.
You have been able to get E-85 in Columbus at a retail pump for over 2 years and yes it is ohio ethanol. I have been running Biodiesel B-2 up to -B-100 for many years with my VW. The fuel is out there  use it!  www.biodieselnow.com 

 

www.e85fuel.com/index.php 

or you can run on pure vegetable oil with any diesel with a greasecar kit  www.greasecar.com 

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It takes more energy to make ethanol than the energy which is transferred by burning ethanol. There's a lot of alternative energy carriers (hydrogen, solar, etc) out there, but there aren't a lot of alternatives that have a positive return on energy investment. In fact, there are very few. Biodiesel is pretty decent because the oil has already been produced.

 

KJP


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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  Maximillian, you may get your wish. CNN Money just called for $4.00 a gallon soon. Gasoline is selling for $3.00 a gallon wholesale, and typically, retail is $0.60 higher than wholesale with a time lag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Biodiesel should be mandatory in at least a 2% mix at every diesel pump in america. There are so many benefits.  Reduced pollution, better for engine lubrication, lessens our dependence on foreign oil, good for local economies whom produce the biodiesel from recycled vegetable oil etc.

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    I don't think biodiesel or any other alternative for that matter reduces our so called dependence on foreign oil. We take all the foreign oil we can get.

 

  If Saudi Arabia offers us 10 million barrels of oil, we take it. If they offer 20 million barrels, we take it. We take whatever we can get.

 

  If we use 2% biodiesel, does it reduce the amount of oil we import from Saudi Arabia? I don't think it does. We still take whatever we can get.

 

    I have to ask if biodiesel is really economical taking into account all subsidies and legal requirements.

 

 

 

 

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    Maximillian - how would you like to live in Atlanta? Gasoline is selling for over $5.00 a gallon there. In fact, there's a photo going around the internet of a BP sign showing $6.06 for premium.

 

 

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  Sorry, I got excited there.

 

  After a little research it seems that prices vary widely across Atlanta, ranging from $2.47 to $4.87 for regular, according to atlantagasprices.com. Even so, $4.87 is shocking, and only a year ago people were whining about $1.90!

 

    You can talk about peak oil and conservation and finite resources and all that all you want but if you really want to get people's attention, start talking about gas prices.

 

 

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This weekend's drive to Cleveland (200 miles each way) for the meet is going to be an expensive one, even with my little Ranger pickup. Today gasoline is around $3.19 in Fort Wayne for regular unleaded. I guess I should just be glad I traded the big van last winter.

 

Maybe I'd better start brushing up on Greyhound schedules.

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See if you can catch the Capitol Limited at Waterloo, though it may be sold out. Greyhound bus service out of Fort Wayne is horrible, but I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you that!

 

KJP


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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See if you can catch the Capitol Limited at Waterloo, though it may be sold out. Greyhound bus service out of Fort Wayne is horrible, but I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you that!

 

KJP

 

I thought about Amtrak, but the Cleveland arrival and departure times are bad. I wouldn't mind that if I were staying in a hotel, but I'm staying with friends and don't want to subject them to my arriving and leaving at ridiculous times.

 

I just scored a tank of gas for $2.259/gallon, and that should get me there and most of the way back. I don't know how that happened, but I was headed back to Fort Wayne from Bluffton and saw the price on the sign at Wal-Mart. I pulled in, verified that the pump price matched the sign, filled up, rechecked the price on the receipt, and then looked at the pump again and it had jumped to $3.259 just that quick. I don't know how that happened, but I speculate there was a data-entry error when somebody updated the price, and I just happened to land on it before they could correct it.

 

Lucky Me!

 

Too bad my truck only holds 19 gallons.

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  ^That's a great story!

 

    The clerk probably was used to typing 2's instead of 3's.

 

    I hear that in Canada, with gasoline measured in litres and prices in Canadian dollars, they have recently passed the $1.00 mark. However, gas price signs often have only two digits, so they are either putting up temporary signs or just ignoring the 1. This happened in the U.S.A. in the 1970's.

 

  Looks like people are seriously starting to change their behavior toward consuming gasoline. Folks, I don't know what prices will do in the near future, but it does seem that it will certainly be interesting!

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... and Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked among the nation's most car-dependent cities ...

 

Sad, or perhaps disgraceful, considering that the Twin Cities once had one of America's most complete and effective streetcar systems, augmented by a fleet of six "streetcar boats" connecting suburban communities around the lakes with the streetcar system. They built their streetcars and even the steamboats in their own shops. I think I recall reading that the systenm was one of the early casualties of National City Lines' predation.

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A relatively long but excellent article that's well worth reading....

 

Saudi oil shock ahead

Petroleum News

Sept. 11, 2005

 

http://www.petroleumnews.com/pntruncate/35317794.shtml

 

KJP

The way the writer starts, I anticipated that he was concerned only with harvesting the potential profit from ANWR oil and gas, but toward the end of the article he does touch on conservation.

 

His remarks on getting more freight to move by rail and water than by truck make sense, but then he justifies the proposal by commenting that the reduced traffic congestion will make car commuting more energy efficient. He gives only slight attention to reducing car commuting.

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    My favorite line from that article goes something like this:

 

  Today, the world is producing 80 million barrels of oil per day. By 2030, we will be producing perhaps 20 million barrels of oil per day.

 

  Folks, this is a big, big deal!

 

 

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^I agree with you. In the past, high demand and the resulting higher prices spurred more exploration and development and more resources being brought on line. All indications are that the "more resources" don't exist, and the people who rely on their memories of past crises and their resolutions are hanging all their hopes on a paradigm that no longer applies.

 

It would be best if they could get past the denial and start dealing with reality, emphasizing conservation to spread the consequences of diminishing supply over a long period of time and allowing society to adapt, instead of being confronted abruptly with an inescapable catastrophe.

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I stated the long term solutions, which would allow for less oil to be used. Part of that involves a Manhattan Project-scale research effort into making solar a more practical, efficient resource. Existing PV solar panels convert only 10-15 percent of visible light -- and that's for the most efficient panels on the market. That's not a very good ratio. If the efficiency ratio could be enhanced with some as-yet unknown breakthroughs to exceed 50 percent, or maybe 75, that would be a staggering development.

 

KJP


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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From the AP, 9/17/05:

 

 

The end of oil

Experts say the world is running out -- but how soon?

By George Jahn

Associated Press

 

VIENNA, Austria - Fact: World oil production will peak someday, and supplies will start running out. But when will the tipping point come - in years, decades, or a couple of months from now?

 

The oil industry says crude will be plentiful for at least another generation. But some experts argue reserves are overstated, oil technologies are limited and demand, sharply boosted by the needs of China and India, could soon outpace supply.

 

http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050917/BIZ/509170308/1001/RSS04

 

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I assume you've also seen Chevron's new website:

 

http://www.willyoujoinus.com/

 

Glad to see the oil industry is finally starting to catch on (or at least admitting it publicly!).

 

KJP


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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What nobody has brought up here are the enormous implications for the militaries of the world, since tanks, trucks, and jets consume outrageous amounts of fuel, often much more than their civilian counterparts.   

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^That's funny! Like the oxymoron "Civil War"...

 

KJP


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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    Jake, you are absolutely correct about military use of oil. In fact, you could be opening a can of worms.

 

    Oil extraction is largely a government run business, and so is the military. In fact, I have heard that the U.S. Navy is the largest consumer of oil. Can anyone verify? Also, there is a second oil region in Alaska that is approximately equivalent to ANWR that was supposed to be reserved for the navy.

 

    Not only does it take oil to fuel the war machines, but it also takes vast amounts of energy to produce the machines.

 

    There is no substitute for oil in aircraft.

 

    Since this is an Ohio site, just look at how many military related things are part of our economy.

 

 

 

     

 

         

   

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    Just for fun, let us suppose that today all of the automakers began making cars that get 100 mpg, and are equivalent to today's normal cars in every other way.

 

    Today's cars average around 25 miles per gallon, so these new cars will cut our energy use by 1/4, right?

 

    Wrong! People will either drive more often, drive farther, drive heavier, or, given enough time, have more kids and therefore buy more cars.

 

    This is what happened in the 1970's. Cars became more fuel efficient, yet we are using more fuel than ever!

 

    Basicly, people use as much fuel as they have access to. If fuel were cheap, I wouldn't mind flying to Hawaii more often!

 

    Back in the steam age, an economist studied the effects of more efficient steam engines. He found that as efficiency went up, so did coal use, because people built more steam engines. This is known as Jevon's Paradox.

 

    Maybe as oil peaks and declines, better fuel efficiency will allow people to maintain their present lifestyle longer, but ultimately, oil production is controlled by how fast it can be pumped out of the ground, not by fuel efficiency of vehicles.

 

 

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Sorry for the late notice on this.... KJP

___________________

 

C-SPAN

01:08 AM EDT 9/27/05

 

 

Forum

Higher Gas Prices in the Wake of Katrina

U.S. House of Representatives, Bartlett, R. (R-MD)

Frederick, Maryland (United States)

ID: 189033 - 09/26/2005 - 3:00 - No Sale

 

 

Bartlett, Roscoe, U.S. Representative, R-MD

Deffeyes, Kenneth S., Professor Emeritus, Princeton University, Geology

Simmons, Matthew, Chairman and CEO, Simmons International

 

Rep. Bartlett sponsors an energy conference regarding high gas prices, the economy, and national security. Topics include peak oil and sustainability post-peak.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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The little engine that could slash bills

Local duo's machine runs on laughing gas - and it's no joke

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Diane Suchetka

Plain Dealer Reporter

http://www.cleveland.com/ohio/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1127813843153040.xml&coll=2

 

What if you never had to pay another electric bill? If you could power everything in your house, even your furnace, for a fraction of what you're paying now, maybe nothing? If you could drive your car 100 miles or more on a gallon of ethanol? And you could do it all without polluting the air?

 

In a few years you can. At least that's the claim of two guys who have developed a new engine in a warehouse on Cleveland's West Side. 

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  ^Sounds like a new version of the stirling engine, which is over a hundred years old. The stirling engine runs by alternatively heating and cooling a gas inside a closed system. The expanding gas pushes a piston. It can run on any heat source, but also requires a heat sink.

 

    Compared to an internal combustion engine, the stirling engine can have less emmissions, is more efficient, and is more quiet. Then why don't we use it? The drawback is that the throttle does not respond as quickly as an internal combustion engine. The stirling engine is used in some applications, but not in transportation.

 

-------------

 

    Anyone hear Bush's energy speech where he is calling for people to conserve gasoline by driving less? This is big news.

 

 

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Most of the Stirlings I've seen have been very old machines in museum collections, and used air. I recall seeing one operate at Coolspring Power Museum in Pennsylvania. I think it produced about 1/3 horsepower and weighed close to half a ton. It was built to pump water from a shallow well, and was very silent with graceful-looking movement, and intriguing to watch.

 

From time to time at steam shows I've seen small models, including one that used icewater instead of heat to create the temperature differential.

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    The value of petroleum is it's convenience. There are other energy sources, but they are less convenient. It would, for example, be possible to run a stirling engine from a solar heat collector to generate electricity to power an electric car, but it's easier to burn gasoline.

 

    Solar energy is not "free." You have to invest in equipment to capture it. So, when someone claims to have a solution in technology, you have to ask if the system is better or worse than what we have now. The internal combustion engine is hard to beat, as long as petroleum is available.

 

 

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I saw this editorial in the 9/24/05 Enquirer and thought it was spot-on:

 

 

Chabot proposal sends wrong message

 

Regarding the article "Tax credit posed for gas buyers" (Sept. 20): While Rep. Steve Chabot's proposed tax credit to provide relief from recent fuel price increases is laudable, it sends the wrong message. Federal policies should encourage conservation rather than subsidizing consumption. Subsidizing consumption does nothing to materially alter our long-term problems, such as our dependence on foreign oil or pollution. On the other hand, conservation has the twin benefits of reducing both. Perhaps the congressman should propose a tax credit for buying high-efficiency or alternative-fuel vehicles.

 

Frank Glandorf, Pleasant Ridge

 

 

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Chabot is an idiot. He's fought light rail in Cincinnati, voted against Amtrak and done all he can to support our gas-guzzling ways. I like the idea of tax credits for energy-efficient vehicles, but if he want's to do something productive from a policy standpoint, raise the gas tax 10 cents a year over the next 20 years. Use the revenues for urban brownfield remediation, transit investments and high speed rail. It's time to save our economy by saving oil through revitalizing our rail systems, transit networks, and pedestrian-friendly communities.

 

KJP


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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A metaphor for U.S. domestic oil supplies

 

19681002-08.jpg

 

While dredging the archives for fall color pics, I came across this nearly-forgotten 1968 photo of an old oil field in southeastern Ohio, along a township dirt road near Trail Run. The field was still being pumped on a part-time basis in 1968, but the collector pipeline was long out of service and oil was being taken out on an as-needed basis by tanker truck. The pumping machinery dated from the early 1900s or maybe before, with a central power and pull-rods radiating out to the wellheads.

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Here's an interesting op-ed piece I recently received from Gene Skoropowski, the Managing Director of the (California) Capital Corridors Joint Powers Authority.  They operate a very successsful commuter rail operation between Sacramento and the Bay Area.  These are his views on a reason to raise gasoline taxes and make them do some good.

 

“My two cents:  investing in ourselves” (an OP-Ed piece)

 

By Eugene K. Skoropowski

Managing Director, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA)

 

 

Talk continues in Washington and in some states of suspending state and/or federal gasoline taxes as a way of easing the impact of resulting gasoline prices that leaped above $3 a gallon in the destructive wake of Hurricane Katrina.  Cooler heads seem to be prevailing both in Washington and many statehouses, with the thought that suspending fuel taxes would not necessarily bring prices down.  Currently, those taxes help fund our transportation systems, with the vast majority going toward our highways.  Critics argue that suspending gasoline taxes would only further damage our ability to build and maintain our highways and transit systems, making the economy worse, not better. 

 

Allow me to suggest another approach: that we should actually increase the federal gasoline tax by a nickel or a dime.  Here’s the twist: why not use the increase to generate investment funds in the rest of our transportation infrastructure?  It doesn’t even have to cause a hardship.  When the price of gas declines, the gas tax could be incrementally increased one-cent for every 5 cents of decline in the price of gas at the pump (or price of a barrel of oil), or some such formula that does not add gasoline costs above where they are today.  After all, every cent of gas tax money gets reinvested in our country's transportation infrastructure, and puts people to work here in our country on projects from which we directly benefit. 

 

Consider that gasoline prices have gone from $1 per gallon to more than $3 per gallon and yet the American public has not gotten the return of as much as one more cent per gallon for investment in our country's transportation needs.  Those needs are great, and growing, especially when it comes to historically under-funded transport modes like intercity passenger rail, local mass transit, waterways and pedestrian/bikeway improvements.

 

Instead, the hurricane-induced ‘windfall’ from rising gasoline prices has gone to oil producing countries (many of which hate us), and to the oil companies in profits. The ability of and cost to our nation to move both people and freight has, conversely, been made worse.  Wall Street analysts predict rising fuel costs will translate into higher costs for transporting raw materials and finished goods and, ultimately higher costs for consumers.  If you drive a car, you already know what the price jumps at the pump have done to your personal or family budget.  Yet most of our people have been given no other choice for travel than by their car. 

 

If we look around for other options, in many cities and regions around the country these ‘options’ are either inadequate or unavailable. Right now, we have a window of opportunity that has been blown open by the force of Hurricane Katrina.  It is an opportunity to finally properly fund and bring more balance to our nation’s overall transportation infrastructure.  More of our people must have a choice of travel, and not have ‘the car’ as our only choice.

 

There is developing and wide-spread latent support for a program at the federal level that would provide major new investment funds for our nation's infrastructure.  24 states are now either planning or implementing aggressive plans to establish regional high-speed passenger rail systems, with some plans (like Ohio) also calling for increased capacity to move not only people but more freight by rail.  Ohio’s rail planners just finished a round of statewide public involvement meetings. From it, a broad cross-section of business, government and community leaders and private citizens overwhelmingly told the Ohio Rail Development Commission not only that the improved rail system offered under Ohio Hub Plan is desirable, but that it should be built now.

 

Of course, neither the state or federal funding programs are in place to do that.  The same is true in many states, with the exception of states like California, Washington and Illinois, which have invested their own dollars heavily either in their own passenger rail systems or have established state-supported Amtrak service using primarily their own funds because there is no federal matching capital program for intercity passenger rail service.  California’s Capitol Corridor, which has started new by the California Department of Transportation in 1991, been built entirely on the state’s dime, is attracting riders at a rate that has already forced increases in both train frequencies and adding more cars to trains.  In fact, California’s voter-approved investment has catapulted that state into having the second highest number of Amtrak passengers in the nation, as well as hosting the second, third and fifth busiest Amtrak routes in the country, all solely within California (Pacific Surfliner Route, the Capitol Corridor and the San Joaquin Route)

 

Finally, I would propose that 50% of the added revenue from any increase in the gas tax be reserved for non-highway transportation, particularly for railroad capacity increases on those railroad lines that now accommodate intercity or commuter passenger rail service, or will do so as a result of the expenditure of the funds.  In doing this, we will help to make our nation less reliant on petroleum, especially from foreign sources, put more Americans to work on jobs that cannot be exported, and give more Americans the daily option of taking the train instead of reaching for the car keys.  There is already substantial evidence that investing in rail promotes greater economic development and the creation of more and better-quality jobs.

 

I’d pay an increase of two cents or more a gallon for that.  How about you?

 

(About the author:  Eugene Skoropowski has been a manager in the passenger rail transportation business for more than 35 years, in both the private and public sectors.  From his start in Boston, this architect-turned-railroader has also been responsible for passenger services in Philadelphia and for planning and construction of passengers rail services in Los Angeles, Florida, London, Paris and Amsterdam, much of it with California’s Fluor Corporation.  For the past six years he has been managing California’s Capitol Corridor trains, an intercity passenger rail service subsidized by the State of California, and operated by Amtrak under an agreement with the CCJPA.  Capitol Corridor service is operated over the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad, which has accumulated one of the best ‘on-time delivery’ records of any passenger rail service in the country).

 

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"Anyone hear Bush's energy speech where he is calling for people to conserve gasoline by driving less? This is big news."

 

Yeah, he really seemed to struggle to say it.  It was so unnatural for him to ask for any kind of sacrifice.  It went something like.. " you may want to reduce unnecessary driving , but you really don't have to..but maybe could you drive a little less.. not a lot less, just a little less?"

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A metaphor for U.S. domestic oil supplies

 

While dredging the archives for fall color pics, I came across this nearly-forgotten 1968 photo of an old oil field in southeastern Ohio, along a township dirt road near Trail Run. The field was still being pumped on a part-time basis in 1968, but the collector pipeline was long out of service and oil was being taken out on an as-needed basis by tanker truck. The pumping machinery dated from the early 1900s or maybe before, with a central power and pull-rods radiating out to the wellheads.

 

That could just as easily be Morrow County, 1968 or 2005 (I remember the sulfer smell from the wells when my parents brought us there in 1983)

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    Thanks for the photo, Rob.

 

    I heard a story once about a farmer who pumped his own oil and distilled his own gasoline in a homemade still. Eventually it blew up on him.

 

    Anyway, at least there was a time when the average person had a clue of where their resources were coming from. The petroleum and coal industries capital intensive but not labor intensive and only a small percentage of the population has any feeling for where coal and oil come from or how they got there. Compare to the days where every factory had it's own power source, and coal was carried about for all to see in horse drawn wagons.

   

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About 1961 I visited a place in western Pennsylvania where a property owner had a gas well. He had an ancient, primitive setup in a building near the well where there were three stages of compressors run by a big slow-speed single-cylinder engine. He "dried" the gas from the wellhead before selling it, by compressing it and cooling it. The condensate was what he called casinghead gasoline. He burned it in his '49 Chevy. He said it was pretty low octane and knocked under load, but the Chevy 216ci 6 cylinder engine had low enough compression that he got by OK.

 

There were once quite a few oil and gas wells in the area around Winchester and Portland, Indiana and westward toward Montpelier, and they fueled a significant amount of local industry. There were glass factories, a steel rolling mill, and numerous brick and tile mills. Near Salem, Indiana a man who owned a gas well used it to heat his home and to power an industrial engine that ran a sawmill and wood-products mill into the 1960s. I think some of those wells still produce on a small scale and are used privately for heating and cooking by the property owners.

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