Peak Oil Task Force recommends Portland cut fossil fuel use 50%

posted Thursday, March 8, 2007        

March 7, 2007

Peak Oil Task Force recommends Portland cut fossil fuel use 50% by 2032

The Report by a citizen committee stresses implications of fuel supply
fluctuations and price increases on social safety net and basic services

Portland, Ore. – The Portland Peak Oil Task Force, a twelve member
citizen committee appointed by Portland´s City Council in May 2006,
today delivered a strongly worded report advising that the City
accelerate efforts to curb the use of oil and natural gas.

The report´s key recommendation is that the City take action to
reduce fossil fuel use by half over the next 25 years. The report
finds the best path to this goal is in accelerating current
initiatives such as high-density planning and zoning, public
transportation and acquiring electricity from renewable resources.
Additional recommendations suggest specific actions elected officials
can take to move towards the goals.

“This is an achievable imperative,” said Task Force chairman Bill
Scott, General Manager for Flexcar Portland, a car sharing company.
“Rising energy prices are likely to force major change in any case.
Portland has an economic stake in getting ahead of those price

The Task Force found that actions such as increasing housing density
and fortifying our mass transit system will be much less expensive to
achieve now than they will in ten, twenty or forty years, when
materials and transportation costs will be much higher.

“This report represents many months of work by a dedicated group of
citizens,” said City Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “It makes clear
that those most affected by increasing fuel costs and fluctuations in
supply will be our most vulnerable citizens. The Task Force has sent
us a clear signal about the growing costs of our energy dependency,
while also pointing out practical solutions.”

“However well Portland succeeds in its energy transition, it will
not be able to isolate itself from global energy crises or the
resulting economic implications,” the report states. “The Task
Force sees the potential for profound economic hardship and high
levels of unemployment, and it recommends having plans in place to
adapt social and economic support systems accordingly … contingency
plans are needed for fuel shortages that may last for several weeks,
well beyond the time considered in existing emergency plans.”

City Council adopts peak oil preparedness resolution

At the meeting today, Council also adopted a resolution establishing
the goal of reducing fossil fuel use by half, and directing city
bureaus to incorporate the goal into both internal operations and
programs and policies addressing planning guidelines, building energy
use and transportation systems.

“The Peak Oil Task Force report underscores the need to accelerate
our efforts,” said Susan Anderson, director of the Office of
Sustainable Development. “All of the recommended actions also help
the City meet other established community goals such as clean air and
water, livability, carbon dioxide reductions and economic growth.”

The Task Force found that Portland residents, businesses and
institutions spend more than $650 million for gasoline and natural
gas each year. Most of this sum leaves the community, while
investments in public transportation infrastructure, energy
efficiency and dense urban housing create jobs and keep dollars in
local circulation.

Portland has long been known for early action on related issues. The
City was the first in the U.S. to adopt a comprehensive Global
Warming Action Plan, in 1993, and is known for its dense, walkable
urban neighborhoods, high number of green buildings, efficient mass
transit and hundreds of miles of bike lanes and bike routes.

Recent City actions that will help Portland meet the goal laid out by
the Peak Oil Task Force include a pending agreement to purchase 100
percent of municipal electricity from wind power; participation in
transportation initiatives such as Plug In Partners, a national
effort to increase the purchase of hybrid electric fleet vehicles;
and Solar Now! a campaign to double the number of solar energy
systems installed on Portland homes and businesses.

“It is not enough for the City to commit to this goal,” said
Scott. “Citizens and business owners also will need to step up.
Weatherizing your home and finding ways to drive less or use a more
fuel efficient vehicle are the first steps.”

Interested citizens can learn more about peak oil and what they can
do through Portland Peak Oil,
a grassroots group dedicated to developing strategies for responding
to peak oil. Information is available at
The group meets Wednesday evenings from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in the
dining hall at St. Francis Church, 1182 SE Pine in southeast Portland.

For more information and to download a copy of the Executive Summary
and full report of the Peak Oil Task Force, please visit http://

Contact: Amy Stork, Office of Sustainable Development

(503) 823-0229

Brendan Finn, Commissioner Saltzman´s Office

(503) 823-3110

About the Office of Sustainable Development

The Office of Sustainable Development (OSD) brings together community
partners to promote a healthy and prosperous future for Portland. OSD
advances improvements and innovation in reducing global warming
emissions and encourages public engagement in energy efficiency and
renewable energy, biofuels, waste reduction and recycling,
sustainable economic development, sustainable food systems and green
building practices.

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