The debate over the global energy crisis continues to inch its away into the public arena. While federal governments still have not taken specific actions regarding peak oil, a number of sub-federal agencies have acted.
As experts wrestle over the question of when global oil demand will outpace supply, a number of municipalities, regional agencies, and even state governments in the U.S. and Canada have commissioned studies and drawn up plans to anticipate the decline of our oil reserves, according to an online report by Post Carbon Cities. The original study was compiled by Daniel Lerch, the organization’s program director and author of Post Carbon Cities: Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty.
Grassroots citizen groups that have begun planning for a post-peak oil future—or, at least a future without cheap oil—are clearly more numerous than local governments with such a focus, as indicated by the nearly 150 awareness groups that make up the The Relocalization Network. However, that official peak-oil resolutions been passed at all is a sign that various awareness campaigns around this issue have worked. City and state officials have heard the alarm and responded—at least in a handful of communities.
The Post Carbon Cities report includes a variety of government actions. Some of these may have been implemented internally (e.g., staff reports, internal vulnerability assessments), others externally (e.g., official resolutions, task forces). Examples of practical steps include installing local renewable energy systems, budgeting for energy scarcity, and developing contingency plans for municipal services.
Leaders of the Pack
A quick rundown of the list suggests where different states and regions of the U.S. and Canada stand on this issue. Connecticut became the first state to take action this past June when its legislature passed an act to create the Energy Scarcity and Sustainability Task Force. A month earlier, a similar resolution had reached a vote in Minnesota, but was vetoed.
Maintaining their reputation as conversationists, several West Coast cities have led the pack with peak oil resolutions and measures. Of the 21 cities listed, six are located in California, and three cities—Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco—are in the Bay Area.
A city’s size does not dictate its level of peak-oil preparedness, it seems. Willits, California, (pop. 5,073), possessing a populace nearly 150 times smaller than San Francisco’s, was one of the first cities to declare its support for “sustainable localization” and embark on a path toward energy independence. Willits, as Ecolocalizer reported earlier this year, has inspired other relocalization efforts throughout the country and the world.
Are your local leaders taking action on this issue? Check out the report to find out.