Peak Oil Task Force tells town to prepare for post-petroleum world

Posted

Thursday, February 21
BRATTLEBORO -- The world is running out of petroleum and Brattleboro better prepare itself for that eventuality. That was the message from the Peak Oil Task Force at Tuesday night's Selectboard meeting.

The group, part of Post Oil Solutions, was asked to give a presentation on its research into a world of declining petroleum supplies.

"There is a factual basis to peak oil and that, in fact, there is reason to believe that peak oil may have already occurred," said Rose Avenia of Townshend, reading from the task force's report.

Post Oil Solutions is a Brattleboro-based citizens group that has initiated a number of projects designed to build greater sustainability and community in the Windham County region.

Inspired by a similar group in Portland, Ore., the Brattleboro version of the peak oil task force is the first of its kind in Vermont, and was first proposed to the Selectboard in May 2007.

The members of the task force told the board that world crude oil production rates have plateaued at approximately 85 million barrels a day since December 2005, while demand has continued to rise.

The task force concluded that peak oil will have a direct bearing on the region's economic vitality, the ability of its residents to make ends meet and the capacity of municipalities and school districts to continue supplying necessary services to their constituents. The task force asked the Selectboard to "provide leadership to help organize and build the community effort required to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels."

To do so, the board should issue an official statement recognizing peak oil as a critical problem that the town and county need to address, endorse and co-sponsor with its task force public education efforts and expand the stakeholders involved with this process to include representatives from business, government, agriculture, education, health and social services.

In the future, the task force will expand its research to assess the effect of peak oil on the Brattleboro and Windham County community, think up ways to mitigate the effects of peak oil and help to educate the public on the declining supply of petroleum.

"Peak oil is not debatable," read Avenia. "Whether we've reached peak or it occurs 10 years down the road, reaching peak in production worldwide is inevitable. Increased energy efficiency, energy conservation and the use of renewable energy are all important mitigation strategies. These strategies amount to a local and regional insurance policy protecting us from high cost and possibily unavailable fossil fuels."

The Selectboard agreed to continue its discussion on peak oil at its next full session in March.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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