261. "MITIGATION" AND GAS TAXES
The peak oilers make a big deal out of the Hirsch report. In particular, they like to quote this sentence from the executive summary (p. 4):
The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking.This is their justification for believing that it's too late to avoid disaster. Here's a classic statement from Monte Myers, Den Mother of the doom troop over at peakoil.com:
One of the things that has continuously puzzled me is that amongst the optimistic solutions posited to solve hydrocarbon depletion, I see an assumption that we have, or will have, the time to mitigate the consequences of peak oil. Mitigation, of any sort, will take time and a lot of money. And it will have to be applied world-wide, not just in the first world.This is a load of baloney, and it all hinges on the word "mitigation". You see, what the Hirsch report means by "mitigation", is an all-out crash program for producing more liquid fuels, as you can see from the following diagram (p. 57):
The Hirsch Report details that we need a 10-20 year crash mitigation plan in place before the peak.
This program is a pro-Exxon, pro-GM, pro-pollution, anti-conservation, Dick Cheney inspired load of crap, and the authors of the report frankly admit it (p. 50):
B. Mitigation OptionsIf you read the report, you'll quickly see that option 1) (lame as it is) is still just lip service. The crash plan is all about pork for oil/coal/refining companies, so they can quickly ramp up liquids production from coal, gas, oil sands, heavy oil and EOR, which are projected to provide 95% of the mitigation. There isn't a word in the entire report about conservation.
Our focus is on large-scale, physical mitigation, as opposed to policy actions, e.g. tax credits, rationing, automobile speed restrictions, etc. We define physical mitigation as 1) implementation of technologies that can substantially reduce the consumption of liquid fuels (improved fuel efficiency) while still delivering comparable service and 2) the construction and operation of facilities that yield large quantities of liquid fuels.
The raw stupidity of this plan is evident in the fact that 30% of the mitigation wedge shown in the above diagram is projected to come from heavy oil in Venezuela, as we've seen earlier. The authors do not explain how the United States is going to operate on Venezuelan soil in implementing its crash program to save braindead American motoring.
Still, these facts do not pose a serious problem, even if peak oil is imminent.
This is because it doesn't take decades to mitigate. It takes about 5 minutes -- time enough for the President to sign off on a big fat gas tax. Bing. You kill 4 birds with one stone:
1) Reduce demand for oil
2) Drive demand for alternatives
3) Generate massive revenues for building rail etc.
4) Kick Iran, Venezuela and the rest of OPEC in the nuts, and watch them squirm as oil prices and their government revenues drop like a rock.
Now, of course the doomers are in bed with Dick Cheney, and think that the American way of life is non-negotiable. There is no way in hell that the U.S. will ever pass a gas tax. It turns out this is wrong too. A majority of Americans actually favor a gas tax, provided you spin and package in the right way:
If you ask people straight out, "do you favor a gas tax," the answers is overwhelmingly (85%) No. Even if you promise to reduce other taxes --payroll and income -- by the same amount, the answer is still (63%) No.It is imperative to not let status quo mouthpieces like Hirsch et al., abuse the word "mitigation". Peak oil is -- by definition -- not a problem which can be solved on the supply side.
But if the question is, "would you support a gas tax if it reduced U.S. dependence on foreign oil" or "would you support a gas tax if it cut down on energy consumption and reduced global warming," the results reverse pretty dramatically. The "foreign oil" question gets 55% in favor and the "energy consumption and global warming" question gets 59% in favorSource
-- by JD