On Peak Oil and Gas Prices: Parsing the Rhetoric

This will come as no surprise to those of you reading this, unless you're three years old and playing around with mommy and/or daddy's computer, in which case you need to a) stop leaning on the keyboard because it's expensive, b) get down from the chair before it rolls back and you bang your head on something, and c) move out smartly because you're about to get caught doing something you know you're not supposed to.

Back to the big people reading this: we are smack in the middle of an Energy Crisis, but most of us don't really understand why. We think we do, because we've been conditioned over the years to respond to rhetoric, but that needs to change.

As I mentioned in a previous diary and BJ reminded me of a little while ago, we are on the cusp of (global) Peak Oil. It doesn't mean we're about to run out, it just means getting the oil out of the ground is going to be increasingly harder and more expensive from here on out. Combining that with emerging markets in developing countries, and you will have a supply/demand issue that will play a major role in the value of each barrel of oil.

But what we're talking about here is a slowly graduating issue, and has very little to do with why we're paying $3.85 for a gallon of gas. There are some people who want us to believe our supply is in jeopardy, but that's just not the case. One of these people is our President:

I want to talk about the supply side. We have got to increase domestic production of oil. If you want to take the price -- (applause) -- if you want to take the pressure off price, we ought to be sending a signal that the United States is going to find oil right here in our own hemisphere. And at the same time, we ought to be working on alternative sources. So I'll spend a little time on ethanol and biodiesel and hydrogen power. But I do want to concentrate on oil.
Congress has got an opportunity to send a signal to our own citizens in the world that we will, in environmentally friendly ways, explore vast opportunities to find -- bring more oil to the market right here in the United States. I'd rather be buying our oil from U.S. producers than sending our money overseas. (Applause.)

Here's where the rhetoric comes in. See, that last sentence there is meant to bolster the incorrect belief most Americans have that increasing our own production will increase our own supply by an equal amount. In other words, every new barrel we suck out of the ground will be refined and sent straight to an American gas station. This supposition is wrong, and it could be a major factor behind the 2/3 of Americans who believe we should drill in ANWR and off our Outer Continental Shelf.

In reality, that extra production would be added to the global market, enhancing it by (maybe) 1.5% or so. Yes, we are a "net importer" of crude oil, but we also export oil. That's another little detail that most Americans aren't aware of, but should be. As a matter of fact, our exports of oil have shot through the roof since last year:

While the U.S. oil industry wants access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries.

A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department.

While the administration argues that more supplies would help to bring down prices, U.S exports of diesel fuel in April averaged 387,000 barrels per day, up almost seven-fold from 59,000 barrels a day in the same month a year earlier.

U.S. gasoline shipments in April averaged 202,000 barrels a day, the most for the month since 1945, when America was sending fuel overseas to ease supply shortages in other countries during World War II. Gasoline exports in April 2007 were almost half at 116,000 barrels per day.

That's right, folks. They want to muck up ANWR to squeeze about 876,000 extra barrels per day, while we continue to export twice that much. And the next time someone claims we need to wean ourselves off of foreign oil, you can explain why half of this:

The exports were also equal to half the 3.2 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products the United States imported each day over the 4-month period.

Is unnecessary.

And frankly, considering we are (and will continue to be) a net importer of crude oil, this statement from the White House makes absolutely no sense:

"Forbidding exports of U.S. petroleum reduces the incentive for domestic suppliers to produce, and could potentially lead to higher prices if U.S. production or refining declined," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

Back to the (global) supply side. The major oil producers recently met in Jeddah to talk about price issues, and supply was merely a footnote:

Participants agreed that restoring oil market stability requires concerted moves to implement a broad set of policy measures, including increased oil investment, strengthened pass-through of price signals to end-users, and improved oil market data.

The Saudi Arabian government announced at the meeting that the country stood ready to increase oil production beyond the 0.5 million barrels a day (mbd) rise already planned for July for the remainder of the year. Its oil production capacity will reach 12.5 mbd by end-2009, with ready plans for further expansion to 15 mbd if warranted by demand developments. In addition, Saudi Arabia will provide a total of $1.5 billion to help the poorest countries cope with higher oil and food prices.

New policy agenda

The broad-based policy agenda developed at the meeting—held at the invitation of the Saudi Arabian government—includes measures to

• boost oil investment

• improve transparency and regulation of oil financial markets

• enhance oil market data

• strengthen cooperation among international and national oil companies and improve access to technology

• ensure pass-through of price signals to end-users, and

• step up development assistance to poor countries most affected by high prices.

If you'll note, the bulk of these recommendations are market-related, to counteract the (purposely) volatile nature of speculation. The non-end-user investors thrive on uncertainty and discord, which is how they've been able to ratchet up the price of oil for the last few years. OPEC can't stop the speculators, but Congress can and should reign them back again.

The real solution to the Peak Oil situation is not bringing prices back down, but we must do that for both economic and humanitarian reasons. The real solution is to reduce our need/usage of fossil fuels by using our most precious resource: innovation. Vehicle efficiency measures and public transportation both hold vast potentialities for reducing our demand, and they are bigger pieces of the puzzle than many in the energy industry want us to believe.

We can easily stay two steps ahead of Peak Oil and Global Climate Change, but we have to avoid the pitfalls of rhetoric and shortsightedness along the way.

Comments

Great post

Just one comment regarding the assertion that "we also export oil":

While the U.S. oil industry wants access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries.

A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department.

While the administration argues that more supplies would help to bring down prices, U.S exports of diesel fuel in April averaged 387,000 barrels per day, up almost seven-fold from 59,000 barrels a day in the same month a year earlier.

U.S. gasoline shipments in April averaged 202,000 barrels a day, the most for the month since 1945, when America was sending fuel overseas to ease supply shortages in other countries during World War II. Gasoline exports in April 2007 were almost half at 116,000 barrels per day.

This article is a red herring. It's talking about our exported refined products -- diesel and gasoline. We have sophisticated refineries that can process "heavy" crudes. No surprise there. But how much *crude oil* do we export? We don't export crude oil -- and we can't make diesel and gasoline for export without importing the crude oil first. We're selling our refineries, not our oil.

Secondly, regarding the quote from the major oil producers in Jeddah:

If you'll note, the bulk of these recommendations are market-related, to counteract the (purposely) volatile nature of speculation. The non-end-user investors thrive on uncertainty and discord, which is how they've been able to ratchet up the price of oil for the last few years. OPEC can't stop the speculators, but Congress can and should reign them back again.

The oil producers' emphasis on the market reminds me of the bravado exhibited by Bernanke and Paulson in the face of our financial crisis. Things are really out of these guys' hands. The Saudis can talk tough about increasing supply capacity, folks can blame speculators, but I still go back to this chart:

Sure, leverage and speculation can increase market volatility. But volatility moves in both directions (up and down, as folks leverage long and short) -- so what matters is the overall price trend. And what happens in a world where GDP growth requires increased oil consumption, and production has plateaued? As I mentioned here, if we see a global recession drastic enough to decrease fossil fuel demand, we may have a reprieve to retrench. But any reprieve isn't going to turn more dinosaurs into oil.

Finally, I go back to my assertion that getting us into a squabble about drilling or not drilling on the OCS is a grand distraction to prevent dealing with the reality of peak oil. What evidence do we have that opening up the OCS would do ANYTHING? The rigs are not available. The existing leases are not being explored because available rigs are better utilized elsewhere.

The oil companies, whose goal appears to be making money, are putting their profits in buybacks and dividends instead of exploration. Judge them by their actions, instead of their propaganda -- perhaps they also believe that the low hanging fruit is already picked?

Regarding ANWR, I read a great suggestion that we start describing reserves in terms of Global Supply Days (or GSDs). That way, when you read a release that says how great ANWR drilling will be, instead of saying "5 billion barrels", it will say "58.8 Global Supply Days." 59 days. Big deal. No wonder the oil companies are buying back their stock.

We can easily stay two steps ahead of Peak Oil and Global Climate Change

Somehow I don't think it will be easy. But it will be interesting. :-)

BJ

William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Parse the rhetoric, baby

but I still go back to this chart:

And that's one of your mistakes. The article you cited was written by Dr. Mark J. Perry, who, in addition to being a college professor, is also employed by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, one of many pseudo-scientific entities partially funded by ExxonMobil:

Formerly the Michigan Research Institute, the Mackinac Center is a free-market, anti-regulatory and pro-business think tank that "promotes private sector solutions to government problems in Michigan."

Mackinac Center is associated with the Heritage Foundation and is part of the State Policy Network. Mackinac publishes the Impact newsletter, Michigan Education Digest, Michigan Eduation Report, Michigan Privitization Report, and Viewpoint on Public Issues. Mackinac has been particularly active in promoting school vouchers.

And before you say, "It doesn't matter who he works for if his data is correct", his data came from a blog, written by someone known as "JR". If one of his students tried that shit he'd probably fail the kid.

I'm not discounting the growth of GDP vs production as a potential issue, but nobody's going without, and production (totals) haven't declined, they've actually increased:

We've hit Peak Oil, which means we need to behave differently, and grow differently. But current prices are not due to demand, they're due to speculation about future demand, based on the supposition that we'll continue to operate like we have. Well, we're already changing our behavior, and I believe we'll continue to change, making that speculation exactly what it is: speculation.

Forget about the Perry article.

I only cited it to show a slightly different flavor of the chart that included the oil price on it as well.

For clarity, the original source for the above chart (which I should have referenced in the first place) is here:
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4334

Actually, the potential conflict of interest with the source of that chart is even greater -- it was prepared by the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (you can download the original report in the link above). They'd prefer that speculation not be blamed for high oil prices :-).

The discussion about the role of speculation in the above link is worth reading.

I'm not discounting the growth of GDP vs production as a potential issue, but nobody's going without, and production (totals) haven't declined, they've actually increased:

First, what conclusion can we draw from two months of production data? The point of approaching Peak Oil is that production per unit time is not increasing, it's plateaued. I'd question the assertion that 86.13 versus 85.61 is "increased". Two data points don't make a trend, and if you're into rounding, production is flat at 86 mbpd.

Check out the Oil Watch Monthly for a good summary of current production, and trends over time. I'm asserting that production over the past few years is flat.

I don't quite know what you mean when you say "nobody's going without". Lots of folks are cutting down on travel, so they're going without. Folks are starving and rioting overseas. They're going without. But you're right, we don't have gas lines or shortages. One reason is that prices have increased, which has caused people to change their behavior.

But current prices are not due to demand, they're due to speculation about future demand, based on the supposition that we'll continue to operate like we have.

Huh? Current prices aren't due to demand? But you just said "I'm not discounting the growth of GDP vs production as a potential issue". So demand is an issue.

The point of GDP growth versus production is that the long-term price of oil reflects supply AND demand. Supply is no more than one half of the equation.

To re-emphasize, when I say "long-term price", I'm not talking about oil at $147 versus $120 on a month-by-month basis. I believe speculation has a lot to do with that type of short-term volatility. Speculators use leverage (borrowed money), and we all know what crazy amounts of borrowed money did to the housing market.

Also, speculators bet on both sides of the market, so some will leverage to buy, and others will leverage to sell. That creates short term volatility -- so oil may bounce around between $140 and $90 (who knows?), and maybe the "true" demand-based price is $115 (again, who knows)... but we do know that oil is no longer $20, $50, or $80 per barrel.

But at some point, debating the impact of speculators is just that -- speculation. And the endless witch hunt and debating the cause of high prices distracts us from more aggressively dealing with Peak Oil. Matt Simmons did a great Fast Money interview about the danger of complacency and blaming "markets":

It's worth it if only to watch the expression on the guests' faces :-)

BJ

William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

There's real demand and paper demand

I'd question the assertion that 86.13 versus 85.61 is "increased". Two data points don't make a trend, and if you're into rounding, production is flat at 86 mbpd.

Which is up from 83 mbpd back a few years ago.

Huh? Current prices aren't due to demand? But you just said "I'm not discounting the growth of GDP vs production as a potential issue". So demand is an issue.

The current prices in the $124 per barrel range aren't due to demand, they're due to speculation. Investors are holding paper contracts that equal fifteen times the actual daily demand, and that has to change. We may have to wait until Obama gets elected to get rid of the Enron Loophole, but then we'll know:

Also, speculators bet on both sides of the market, so some will leverage to buy, and others will leverage to sell. That creates short term volatility -- so oil may bounce around between $140 and $90 (who knows?), and maybe the "true" demand-based price is $115 (again, who knows)... but we do know that oil is no longer $20, $50, or $80 per barrel.

a lot of these answers.

Look, I'm not arguing against Peak Oil. It is a fact, and we need to do a lot of things differently. But allowing speculators to play hell with the price and allowing oil companies to use Peak Oil as a scare tactic so they can gobble up even more leases and billions more in subsidies is foolishness.

I agree

that we absolutely need to get out of the subsidization business. No subsidies, period.

And in the interest of identifying potential conflicts of interest, I thought you'd like this Web site focused on stopping the evil speculators:

http://www.stopoilspeculators.com/

... sponsored by the Petroleum Marketing Association of America. Not saying they're evil, but without them you'd be walking to work. Or perhaps telecommuting or driving an electric car. :-)

The academic debates over what's driving the cost of oil create more heat than light and aren't helping us become more sustainable... which it seems would be a better goal.

William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

I agree with this,

The academic debates over what's driving the cost of oil create more heat than light and aren't helping us become more sustainable... which it seems would be a better goal.

to a certain extent. But there's a lot of wrong-thinking going on these days, and that is not the path to sustainability. It takes a strong economy (here and elsewhere) to implement the changes we need, and the current price of oil is wreaking economic havoc across the world.

For BJ:

The point of approaching Peak Oil is that production per unit time is not increasing, it's plateaued. I'd question the assertion that 86.13 versus 85.61 is "increased". Two data points don't make a trend, and if you're into rounding, production is flat at 86 mbpd.

Again, don't mistake my position as being against the idea of Peak Oil, or that projected growth combined with (current) consumption behavior will lead to increasingly difficult (and dangerous) oil supply issues. That being said:

The International Energy Agency, the Paris-based energy analysis organization, will predict that companies may produce 100 million barrels a day by 2030, lower than the 116 million previously forecast, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The group is analyzing the 400 oilfields that provide more than two thirds of crude today to determine how much they are likely to produce in the future based on field health and investment, the newspaper said on its Web site.

this projection of 100 mbpd is based on forecasts of current fields. 86 mbpd is not a plateau, it is the level of production for the world's current (actual) needs.

Net Oil Exports

I'm "JR."

You incorrectly cited the blog you referred to.

It is http://netoilexports.blogspot.com

not

http://netoilexports.wordpress.com (this is an alternate address I set up only a week ago to post draft work)

If you had actually bothered to read the "blog" you would know that the "data" is all from the EIA, IEA, and BP. The standard sources for everybody in the industry. My work is completely transparent. As far as I know, I am the only one in the blogosphere offering a spreadsheet were I get my numbers. I have no affiliations to any companies, industries, or "movements."

My only concern is for the truth about oil.

You might also be surprised by how many professors, analysts, investment bankers, economists, and professionals in the oil industry end up citing my work and charts in their reports and writing.

Oh, and, by the way ... what is this? Is this a blog? Just curious? It doesn't look like the New York Times. Ironic, don't you think?

Black gold. Texas tea.

I'm supposed to trust a perspective on oil policy from a guy who's picked the nom de guerre J.R.?

J.R.???

Really?

--
recently transplanted from Indianapolis, IN to Durham, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

I cited the wrong website

because the link used in the original article didn't work, and I had to do a search to find it.

My work is completely transparent.

No, it's not. Even bare minimum transparency requires the disclosure and at least a brief bio of the author. Meaning, "J.R." ain't nearly enough. If you want to remain anonymous, that's fine, but it's not transparent or credentialed. As such, if these guys:

You might also be surprised by how many professors, analysts, investment bankers, economists, and professionals in the oil industry end up citing my work and charts in their reports and writing.

use your work in (their) professional capacity, they're being sloppy. It doesn't necesarily mean you're wrong, but it does mean they're wrong, especially the phd professor.

I have no affiliations to any companies, industries, or "movements."

In the absence of full disclosure, I am forced to accept this at face value. But if the J.R. stands for Jeffrey Rubin of CIBC World Markets, then all bets are off.

I'm not Jeff Rubin

but i have been known to post as Jett Rink on occasion. You are just being silly.

My work on exports predates Jeff's by at least 8 months, so you might want to ask him where he got is ideas and data.

My work is completely transparent. I use data direct from the EIA, IEA, and BP and show where and explain my methods.

Jeff Rubin has a potential conflict of interest with his own and CIBC's touting of Canadian oil sands production. You might want to look into that.

My wish to remain anonymous at this point is irrelevant to this discussion. Spare me the full disclosure nonsense. I'm not interested in whatever you're trying to sell.

The link didn't work, but it clearly said netoilexports.blogspot.com

Put "Net Oil Exports" into google and tell me what pops up in one of the top 5 positions.

Some "research" you did there. I have to question now whether you did not in fact do that intentionally.

Where do I get my "oil" credentials? Do I apply to you directly? Do they come with a secret decoder ring, too?

Where do you think I got his name from?

Jeff Rubin has a potential conflict of interest with his own and CIBC's touting of Canadian oil sands production. You might want to look into that.

I got it from your site, under links for "reports", which is why I asked what I did. And if he's got a potential conflict of interest, you might want to look into removing that link.

My wish to remain anonymous at this point is irrelevant to this discussion. Spare me the full disclosure nonsense. I'm not interested in whatever you're trying to sell.

Dude, I'm not trying to "sell" anything, except for the idea that public perception (which drives public policy) is being manipulated by big oil and commodities traders in an effort to a) keep the price of crude oil high, and b) ease restrictions and regulations to allow more exploration, extraction and refining of oil, when we need to be focusing on reducing demand through efficiency and "smarter" transportation behavior.

The "a" from above is helping to cause a humanitarian nightmare worldwide via food prices, and the "b" from above has the potential of becoming both an environmental nightmare and a serious public health issue. Refineries and pipelines are already leaking and emitting a horrific amount of various toxic chemicals into our air and water supply, yet "regulations" are now being blamed for our lack of new refineries being built.

Where do I get my "oil" credentials? Do I apply to you directly? Do they come with a secret decoder ring, too?

Okay, that is pretty funny. My answers are: Jiffy Lube; you can but I give all such applications to my assistant Klaus and I have no idea what he does with them; only if you send in the Proof of Purchase and $1.98 shipping and handling.

Dang and shoot

I'm with Branden. I thought we had us a slebrity.


_____________________________________

Jesus Swept, this December

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

I'm glad you find me amusing

Maybe you'll let me fact check your next column.

I am pretty funny. In the Peak Oil crowd I'm pretty much George Carlin.

I didn't mean to bust your balls. I'm glad you responded the way you did. I liked your original post.

A lot of people link on me and I follow some of them. I get weird when I see some stuff.

Anybody that writes about oil is cool with me.

-King Abdullah

It may not seem that way

from some of my comments, but I'm in the Peak Oil crowd too.

And if the high price of gas wasn't having such a profound impact on food security in the third world, I would (probably) welcome it as a driver of change, like many of my environmental allies.

But it is pushing millions into malnutrition and despair, and I believe part of that market surge is due to non-end-user speculation. Our Congress made this mistake eight years ago, and they need to fix it.

This just went out...

A timely addition to the discussion, plus a great Daily Show clip:

http://blog.lawsonforcongress.com/2008/08/02/offshore-drilling-and-peak-oil/

William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Great posts

Great posts

What show is the message from the oil industry is getting out...

but the logic isn't. I watched much of the Senate debate the last couple of weeks, and what struck me is how whatever facts were presented, the Repubs went on with their "drill, drill" plan for our future. Byron Dorgan(D-ND) brought out a great fact that really nails it for me. He is on the 'energy and resource committee', and he mentioned how a couple years ago the oil companies said they had an 8 million acre tract in the Gulf which they knew had plenty of oil and natural gas. So the committee worked on a bipartisan basis to open that tract. To this day, not one foot has been drilled. Also, it was mentioned how the companies have plowed their profits into buying back stock and bonuses. Hardly anything into infrastructure. They haven't built a refinery in over 25 years, yet we are to believe that they will increase their drilling? And we also subsidize these crooks! How anyone can buy into any theories on 'peak oil' or anything else by these people is beyond belief. Until we have a government not owned by these companies, we'll never get past all the smokescreens and bullshit put out by the 'oil industry'.

This oil situation really boils down to just this:

A billion Chinese want cars.

Another billion Indians want cars.

Oil production and refining capacity will NOT keep up with that growth. We can turn our world into a dirty stinking polluted cesspool full of oil rigs and refineries and NOT slake that Asian (and American) thirst.

We can go down that dirty road and still hit a dead end in a century or two, or we can change to what comes next, without raping the world we live on.

Person County Democrats

Thanks, PD

I was thinking the same thing.

Oil production and demand and all of that is one thing. And if we want to keep on the path with different producers, great. Let's keep on drillin'.

Changing what comes next means changing the demand. That means creating something better than petroleum-based transportation, that is affordable for everyone. Renewable sources. Non-food based ethanol? Water? I don't know, I'm not a scientist. But I think the knowledge is there, and the technology is almost there. I think the demand has to be there, and we're the ones that create the demand. We are the market, for god's sake.

I appreciate understanding more about the petroleum industry/market and what's going on. Steve, your posts are always illuminating and educational. I'm with Persondem on this one. The answer to this problem is not more drilling and where. The answer is creating a world-wide demand for viable, affordable alternatives to fossil fuels.

Don't underestimate the challenge of a transition

This site is fairly pessimistic, but gives some food for thought:

http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/

Many scientists who have looked at these problems see some real challenges in transition given our current level of dependency. For example, we can't use solar power to make solar panels.

The imperative to "go local" if Peak Oil is correct is potentially enormous. Time to get to work. :-)

BJ

William (B.J.) Lawson
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

William (B.J.) Lawson, M.D.
Congressional Candidate, North Carolina's 4th District

Of course we need to "go local"

I do that, already, as much as possible. I'm lucky enough to live in the middle of an area that grows a lot of food. I buy most of my vegetables from neighbors. In fact, we actually barter services with some. Sweet potatoes for computer repair. Imagine that.

But I'm convinced that we have to create a demand for non-petroleum transportation - like the bus that Steve mentions below - and make it "cool" and affordable.

We ARE the market, and despite what any one thinks about the invisible hand, we can control it if we want to. We can create the demand simply by demanding.

I agree totally

We need to change our behavior here in the States so that (world) transportation in the future will rely less and less on fossil fuels.

Like this microturbine hybrid bus that is being manufactured here in North Carolina:

Capstone Turbine Corporation has announced that they have received a nice juicy order for 150 of their C30 MicroTurbines(R) from the people who built the Tindo solar bus, Designline International. Though it is unknown at this time who the ultimate customer will be, the fact that they are being built at their North Carolina plant would seem to indicate that it is for somewhere in America.

The ECOSaver IV hybrid bus makes good use of the turbine, giving it "...up to 100% improvement in fuel economy over a traditional diesel...", according to Darren Jamison, President and Chief Executive Officer of Capstone Turbine Corporation. The turbines have only one moving part which rides on a "cushion of air" so no oil or maintenance is necessary.

That is so cool!

Something like that might make a regional transportation system viable even in rural areas like this one.

That's one reason I wrote

this previous blog about public transit for all, not just city dwellers. Rural populations are (of course) much smaller, but the folks generally have less money and a lot farther to drive.

Iread an article some time ago (I'll try to find it) that said something like 40% of rural unemployed were that way because they had no access to any (dependable) transportation. It's a big piece of the rural economic puzzle.

Reliable transportation is one of the biggest obstacles

that many of my clients face in keeping their (low-wage)child care jobs. By necessity, they car pool, because usually only a few of them have access to a car. The problem arises when the individual with the car leaves the position. Suddenly a center has a problem - 3 or 4 teachers with no transportation to or from work. This causes turnover in the centers - which is bad for business, and especially bad for the children.

Sounds like a perfect scenario

for the vanpool program. My sil and her "riding group" (or whatever) have a vehicle assigned to them, owned by the state (I think). They pay for gas & upkeep, and they either park the van in a parking lot or that week's driver takes it home.

I'll see what else I can find out.

I really need to know more about programs like that.

I've got this big pool of low-income workers who 1.) can't afford the price of gas right now, and 2.) often don't own their own cars. There is virtually no public transportation in this area. Now is the time to be innovative and get good ideas.

vanpools

Charlotte Area Transit has a very succesfull vanpool program. One of guys in our office comes in from Union County in one.

http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/CATS/Commute+Options/Vanpool.htm

Have you ever heard of a liberal shooting up a church?