Roscoe Bartlett: Man on a Mission
By Bill Moore
Watching Congressman Roscoe Bartlett on C-Span yesterday afternoon, two things were obvious: he knows how to give a lecture and he's passionate about the topic of peak oil. He came prepared with charts and graphs and powerful prose, quoting a speech given fifty years ago by Admiral Hyman Rickover.
We've featured several of his speeches at various conferences over the last few years here on EV World and I've spoken briefly to him on a couple occasions. I've even been to his office in Washington, D.C. and met with his press secretary. But this was the first time I was able to talk to him at length.
I began by asking him his sense of the mood in Congress to start working seriously on reducing America's dependence on oil and climate change.
He began by saying that he hoped Congress was ready to tackle these issues, explaining that there are three reasons to begin the transition from fossil fuels to renewable ones: global warming, national security interests, and oil depletion.
"Thirty-three of the 45 oil producing countries have already peaked and I think the others will follow shortly," he told me, adding that the United States peaked in 1970. He pointed to both the "Hirsch Report and the US Army Corps of Engineers report foresee a global world oil production peak occurring on or around 2010. After that point less and less oil will be produced.
"The Hirsch Report says the world has never faced a problem like this," Bartlett emphasized. "You cannot go back in history and find a precedence for this." He noted that world oil production for the last few years has been basically flat at between 84-85 million barrels a day... and America consumes one-quarter of it.
As he would later in the Special Order remarks he make this week on C-Span, he mentioned the Rickover speech to a group of physicians in which the "Father of the Nuclear Navy" pointed out that even back in 1957, the average American family consumed energy equivalent to owning 33 servants.
Like Randy Udall, the Congressman believes mankind has enjoyed the luxury of an energy-rich life made possible by a bounty of fossil fuels that took millions of years to form and that we'll use up in a few generations.
He explained that there are other "finite" energy resources we can tap, but they too are limited. The tar sands of Alberta are dependent on cheap, stranded natural gas, which will eventually run out; and that the rich seam that can be cheaply surface mined runs under a geological over thrust that will have to be mined 'in situ', increasing the complexity and expense of getting at the bitumen. The entire process also generates a host of serious environmental problems from carbon dioxide emissions to polluted tailing waters.
In addition to his numerous "Special Order" speeches on the floor of the Congress talking about peak oil, the Congressman has helped cosponsor various energy bills and has proposed more for this Congress, including one that seeks to introduce the concept of "energy independent" farms which produce their own energy for "export".
He also wants to see Congress increase the current 60,000 vehicle limit on hybrid sales that qualify for for tax credits increased to a quarter million vehicles.
Tangentially, he is also proposing that tax filing day in America be moved from April 15th to the first Monday in November, which would be just one week before most elections are held. He figures having the two events closer together will get people to think more about how they vote.
To get even a better sense how the Congressman feels about gasoline and carbon taxes, among other things, I encourage you to listen to our entire conversation by using either of the two MP3 players at the top of the page or by downloading the MP3 file to your computer hard drive for transfer and playback on your favorite MP3 device.