OpEd: Peak Oil Issue Overdue for Airing

Santa Fe New Mexican sees peak oil problem as serious issue that needs addressing.

Published: 31-Dec-2005

Santa Fe New Mexican -- Rep. Tom Udall, his stature rising among Capitol colleagues as a result of both his courage in standing up to Bush-administration excesses and his willingness to work with the Republican majority on reasonable solutions to our nation's problems, is home for the holidays. But even here in laid-back Santa Fe, he's hard at work on a bipartisan approach to a still-distant,but serious crisis: the end of cheap oil.

To folks paying through the nose for gasoline, fuel oil and natural gas, the stuff doesn't sound cheap. Yet in relative terms it is -- and has been for more than a century. America's economy has thrived on it. Since yesteryear, our country has been burning oil as if there's no tomorrow -- and nowadays the world's most populous countries are joining in mass consumption of petroleum.

It's a finite resource -- and based on known reserves, oil production in the United States reached its peak back in the 1970s. World production, too, has peaked -- or will within the next 10 years. Instead of being cheap and plentiful, the stuff will become scarce and more expensive. And given the shameful behavior of this country and others in quest of hydrocarbons on the up-slope of the bell curve illustrating the oil peak, greater crises could come on the way down.

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