Portland Peak Oil Task Force Appointed

Released by the City on Friday:


Eleven citizens to provide recommendations for responding to rising oil prices and diminishing supplies

Portland, Ore-Commissioner Dan Saltzman today announced the members of the City of Portland’s Peak Oil Task Force, a citizen advisory group that will provide recommendations to City Council on appropriate responses to uncertainties in the supply and affordability of oil.

“I’m pleased to announce this group of citizen leaders who have offered to contribute their valuable effort and expertise,” said Commissioner Saltzman.

The Task Force will be comprised of the following individuals:

Richard Benner
Christine Caruso
David Cohan
Angela Crowley-Koch
Lesa Dixon-Gray
Allen Lee
Bill Scott
Sallie Schullinger-Krause
Marcus Simantel
Randy White
Rowan Wolf

Collectively, the members of the Task Force bring expertise in transportation, land use, business, the food system, building energy use, sociology, and economically disadvantaged populations. Candidates were selected for their ability to bring a multi-disciplinary, systems approach to the issues and for their commitment to seeking solutions that benefit the community as a whole.

The Task Force is intended to identify key short-term and long-term vulnerabilities and develop recommendations for addressing these. The Task Force is expected produce a set of options and recommendations to City Council about how Portland can best prepare for constraints on the supply and affordability of oil. The recommendations will also address how to educate the public about this issue.

City Council adopted a resolution on May 10, 2006 establishing the Peak Oil Task Force, which is expected to complete its work by early 2007. The Peak Oil Task Force will hold its first meeting in mid-July. Details about the initial meeting and future work of the Task Force will be posted at www.sustainableportland.org.

14 responses to “Portland Peak Oil Task Force Appointed”

  1. It seems nothing less than double-dealing in that Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development would put together a task force to discuss what could be described as how to use less oil while at the same time PDOT is redesigning streets all over town with curb extensions that require busses to stop for passengers in travel lanes, which then block traffic and thereby force motorists to idle their engines and to consume extra fuel while waiting for the bus to move. Then at the next bus stop, Tri-met does it again. It should also be noted that the State of Oregon has established educational programs to decrease engine idle times around schools and with truckers for the purpose of reducing fuel consumption. Hierocracy does exist in government.

  2. Terry –

    There are far more passengers on most of those buses than there are in the autos stuck behind them. And experience says that drivers do not respect the requirement that they yield when buses pull into traffic. So if you are unhappy with the solution, I suggest you offer an alternative that will get drivers to obey the traffic laws.

  3. My vehicle does not idle and does not consume fuel while stopped. (a hybrid) Over time, more and more vehicles will be like this, so the fuel consumption argument may ultimately be moot.

    However, as a congestion argument, curb extensions are a mixed bag. When considering _people_ served (rather than a specific vehicle type or mode), buses using curb extensions serve their routes faster than buses that have to pull over out of traffic and then merge back in. Curb extensions also create more room for waiting passengers, shelters, schedule signage, etc.

    If something like it is not being done already, I would apply the following standard when deciding whether or not to install extensions on a particular street: Does the average passenger load on a bus at a given time of day exceed the average number of people in cars that might be waiting behind that bus? If not, don’t install extensions. If the standard only applies during peak hours, then only install extensions at the busiest stops.

    – Bob R.

  4. I always thought curb extensions were for the pedestrians, not for the vehicles :-)

    Seriously, the benefit calculation needs to include all the modes, not just the motorized ones. Curb extensions shorten the crossing distance for both peds and bikes and make for better crossing visibility.

    The other benefit for co-locating curb extensions with bus stops is that you typically GAIN several parking spaces. A curb extensions costs 1 or 2 spaces, while a full bus pullout could be 4 or 5.

  5. Chris –

    I think most bicycle commuters consider curb extensions a problem since they are forced out into the traffic lane. But I think it is important to realize that curb extensions have a variety of benefits. They also work as traffic calming devices, slowing traffic down to a more suitable speed even when there are no buses in the mix.

  6. Ross, I’m not sure I understand your point. Do you mean from the point of view of a cyclist riding along a street that has extensions, or a cyclist on a street crossing the one with extensions?

    I think the latter clearly benefits. For the former, it depends on the rest of the street design. Unless you’re riding in the parking strip, I’m not sure how you get forced out into the traffic lane?

  7. Riding with traffic. The curb extends out to the edge of the parked cars or beyond. Its often tough to squeeze a bicycle between the curb and traffic. I have to admit, I don’t think its a huge problem. But I have heard other bicyclists complain about them.

  8. Curb extensions are great for just about everyone, except those motorist who persist in trying to go longer distances on transit streets.
    The problem for bicyclists is when a bus stops at the curb extension stop in the bike lane; then you have to either wait or pull out into the partially blocked motor lane. Broadway is a good example. The only fix is to route bikes up onto the sidewalk…ala 13th and Lovejoy, but I think that is a poor solution.
    Long Live Curb Extensions!

  9. I was just riding on NW 23rd trying to figure out how a curb extension would ‘force me into traffic’. The parked cars were already forcing me to take the lane!

  10. Will they fairly evaluate the debate over whether there is any credibility at all to the “peak oil” argument? Or is this just a choir?

  11. John –

    Even the oil industry admits the world will someday see “peak oil”. The debate is over when it will occur, or as some have theorized, the date when it already passed.

    Here in the USA, there is no dispute, that “peak oil” for just the United States happened years ago.

    Unless you believe that the earth is magically churning out new, undiscovered sources of easily extracted oil faster than our rate of current and future consumption, “peak oil” is inevitable.

    – Bob R.

  12. Yes, but the prevailing ideology is that peak oil will require a dramatic reorientation of our lifestyles, thus reinforcing the desire of some for a “new urbanist” lifestyle.

    But many argue that the outcome will actually be a switch first to biofuel alternatives then to electric and hydrogen cars. We are planning for just oneoutcome without considering the other.

  13. John –

    I agree that a lot of shift will occur to biofuels and electric cars… I own a hybrid, myself and look forward to the day when products like the General Motors EV1 are back on the market.

    But the new modes have problems, the new energy isn’t necessarily cheap or easy or plentiful, and it is doubtful that the economics will be nearly as cheap as oil/gasoline is today.

    Biodiesel is great, but its current low cost is largely due to production from readily available agricultural waste products which will not supply a very large percentage of vehicles as demand increases. It is largely carbon-neutral, which is a good thing.

    Ethanol, even if its energy outputs prove to be greater than its inputs, can’t supply our nation’s needs — there is not enough available or convertible farmland in the USA to produce the amount of Ethanol we’d need to replace even 25% of current gasoline consumption.

    Hydrogen – safe and clean burning, but low energy-density, expensive to produce and distribute. Hydrogen isn’t so much a fuel as it is an energy transfer medium – Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars actually run on electricity produced from the hydrogen, and the hydrogen itself is produced at refueling stations or refineries by consuming other energy, usually electricity. The inputs to all this are our power plants or fuels like methane. Each conversion step wastes efficiency. What you do get with hydrogen is quick refueling, something that hasn’t been fully developed for purely electric cars, but has been demonstrated.

    Electric cars and plug-in hybrids, to me, are the most promising, because the energy inputs are decoupled from consumption… the inputs could be coal-fired plants, hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, wind, etc. This is also true for hydrogen, but so far pure electric cars have proven more efficient than hydrogen fuel cells because there are less conversion losses, and batteries are much cheaper than fuel cells.

    My point is that any future responses to peak oil are going to come from a mix of sources and that the economic and environmental impact of these sources is still unknown. The transition period will likely be confusing and expensive and any oil shortages during this transition will likely be very painful due to the lack of demand elasticity once we are past the world peak.

    Therefore, it is only prudent to be developing efficient alternatives to living patterns that rely on widely dispersed housing/working locations connected by single-occupancy vehicles.

    – Bob R.

  14. The other factor to consider is how long it will take us to turn over our infrastructure. For example, it will take over a decade to replace half our commercial vehicle fleet. It we don’t get a jump on making changes now, we’re not going to be able to respond quickly enough to adjust without a LOT of pain.

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