Thursday, January 29, 2009

MN Gov. Vetos Peak Oil Legislation

This is old news, but I found it the other day browsing energy related news. In the state of Minnesota, the legislature created a bill that would petition Governor Pawlenty to "prepare a plan ... to meet the challenge of peak oil." I stumbled across this piece of legislation and was shocked. The bill was introduced in the 2007 session and went on to be vetoed in 2008.

There are a couple reasons that this bill surprised me. First I wouldn't expect this sort of thing from politicians (except Roscoe Bartlett). Peak oil and its implications have to be seen through a telescope - it's a long term issue. There are no quick fixes. The problems have been in the making for over a hundred years and the solutions must be far reaching, forward looking, yet effective enough to keep society from crashing. Politicians and long term policy rarely go hand in hand. Second is that the bill is bipartisan, and oddly enough authored by predominantly suburban representatives, though no rural reps were attached to the bill. Last, it is not a wishy-washy, feel good statement. It contains, yet goes past the tired anecdotes of US oil consumption and production figures and dives into EROI of transport fuel alternatives (pajoritively), environmental degradation of continuing BAU and biomass-based fuels, the North American natural gas peak, and laying out a time frame for mitigation as given by the Hirsch report.

The bill does not provide suggested ideas for mitigation of PO, as that is the point of the legislation: to provide "funding and ... give direction to state departments for the development of a response plan as soon as possible." In early half of 2008, Matthew Simmons addressed the Minnesota legislature. This was when oil prices were skyrocketing into the $100/bbl+ range. It's too bad the guvna didn't hear the Senior Energy Advisor to the Bush administration's presentation, though I doubt it would have rescued the bill.

I enjoy being pleasantly surprised (though not comforted) that there are at least a few people in elected politics that could be bothered to spend even a few moments drafting such a bill. If the shift is in the right direction, I can handle small steps for at least a while.


Ilyeana said...

I would guess that the bill was a result of this group that calls itself the Energy Transition Working Group--they've been contacting politicians for a couple years trying to get them to introduce peak oil legislation. I've gone to a couple meetings. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of Minnesota politicians they report are "aware" of the issue (not tons...but more than a few). Maybe there is hope?

Bru said...

Why would Gov. Pawlenty veto a bill that, from his office's perspective, only involves preparing a plan? It shows that he is not looking out for the long-term future of Minnesotans, and I hope he took some bad press for it.