Planning NAFTA Superhighways
at the End of the Age of Oil
Road Scholar Dictionary
state by state list
Eugene Parkway (OR)
Inter County Connector
Columbia River Crossing
Trans Texas Corridors
I-5 (Wash, Oregon, Calif.)
Corridors of the Future
other new superhighways
Over Water: time for transportation triage
Lexus Lanes (High Occupancy Toll)
Federal Highway Laws
Bush, Clinton, Bush highway bills
Presidents Johnson & Nixon
FHWA Environmental Guidebook
Purpose and Need
Environmental Impact Statements
Avoidance and Mitigation
FHWA regulations: Title 23
20 year requirement
Section 4(f) protects parks
Land & Water Conservation Fund
National Forest Roads
LUTRAQ (Portland, OR)
the limits of smart growth
transit, urban density and Peak Oil
Peak Oil &
Oil Depletion Protocol
compromise is unnecessary
Radio Frequency ID (RFID)
geoslavery: GPS tracking
The J. Edgar Hoover highway:
civil liberties and
Columbia River Crossing
Comments on the
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Columbia River Crossing
Portland, Oregon & Vancouver, Washington
by Mark Robinowitz, www.road-scholar.org
July 1, 2008
Summary: Peak Oil and Peak Traffic Alternative
Troubled Bridges Over Water: Transportation Triage
Peak Traffic: The Achilles Heel of Highway Expansion Plans
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has Peaked
SDEIS needed to address “new circumstance” of Peak Oil & Peak Traffic
Council on Environmental Quality regulations implementing NEPA
Federal Highway Administration regulations about NEPA
The End of the Age of Oil: growth is over
why alternative fuels and efficient cars won’t make much difference
DEIS mention of Peak Oil is inaccurate
2030 design year is past peak
Peak Oil causing Peak Traffic
Climate greenwash: a quiz
Saving Oil in a Hurry: carpooling is part of the answer
NAFTA Superhighway - ISTEA, TEA-21, SAFETEA-LU
Corridors of the Future program includes CRC and upgrading I-5 in California
Washington Commerce Corridor
Tolling without tollbooths: the J. Edgar Hoover Memorial Bridge
Coalition for a Livable Future “Climate Smart” Alternative
Reviving the Rails: a best case Peak Oil scenario
Rebuttal of DEIS energy sections
Spy Roads: Civil Liberties vs. Transportation Surveillance
Geoslavery: GPS and technological tyranny
Summary: Peak Oil and Peak Traffic Alternative
I support light rail transit across the river into Vancouver.
I support expanding this project to include Amtrak and freight rail, including consideration of existing plans for high speed passenger rail between Eugene and Vancouver, B.C.
I support improved bus public transit to connect people to the rail stations.
I support paying for the transit systems by redirecting highway funds and increasing gas taxes (the original light rail line to Gresham was paid for with money appropriated for the Mount Hood Freeway). Rebates need to be considered to mitigate these impacts on lower income people. There is no technical reason why public transit should not be free.
I do not support a wider, 12 lane bridge.
I do not support a surveillance system on the existing bridge (or on a new bridge) to keep track of everyone’s travels through RFID, Automatic License Plate Recognition and / or GPS enabled “mileage tax” tracking systems.
I do not support adding “collector - distributor” lanes on I-5 on either side of the river or on any replacement bridge, if one is built to replace seismically unsafe structures.
I do not support traffic analyses that assume substantial rises in travel demand even though we have reached Peak Oil and Peak Traffic.
A supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS) is needed to factor in Peak Oil and peak traffic, which invalidate the traffic growth projections used for this project.
Before the rubber stamps are used, the FHWA, ODOT, WSDOT and local governments must consider that the National Environmental Policy Act states that if there are “new circumstances” that impact a project, then they need to be factored in to the analysis. The fact that we have reached the end of cheap oil (peak oil) and the start of climate change needs to be factored into the long term “needs” analysis of the big bridge.
The design year for this highway expansion is 2030 -- long after Peak Oil. Therefore, the traffic needs analysis needs to be changed to reflect the fact that there will be much less fossil fuel available for personal transportation on the downslope of “Hubbert’s Curve.”
ODOT / FHWA are planning to widen I-5 despite the lack of demonstrated need. The project is designed for twenty years in the future, not current travel demands, yet "peak traffic" has already happened and we are now at Peak Oil. Future increases in gas prices and decreases in gas availability will drop total vehicle miles traveled (the only question is how quickly). Therefore, there is no need to widen I-5 and no need to spend more money on a widened bridge and road.
If the existing bridges cannot be upgraded for seismic safety, then a replacement, permanent bridge should be built to the same number of lanes as the road on either side of the bridge -- three lanes in each direction. This would save money that could be used toward fixing or replacing other damaged bridges such as the crumbling Sellwood bridge.
If the DOTs ignore geological (and financial) realities, then it would be best to save our money by dispensing with the pretense of public input and let the DOTs do anything that it wants without the illusion of oversight. As the lawyer said to the oil man in the film SYRIANA, “we are looking for the illusion of due diligence.”
Troubled Bridges Over Water: Transportation Triage
“Another flaw in the human character is that everyone wants to build but nobody wants to do maintenance”
-- Kurt Vonnegut
The notorious collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis in 2007 points out the dangers of deferring maintenance in favor of building more and more roads -- a change in priorities is long overdue.
Oregon’s highway network is riddled with aging bridges that no longer can support existing traffic flows because their structures are wearing out. As we shift from an era of cheap energy and abundant economics toward the era of expensive energy and conservation, it will become more difficult to repair or replace cracked bridges. Spending billions to widen I-5 when there is a huge backlog of damaged bridges is dangerously neglectful of the need to keep the existing network functional.
One ODOT planner told me a few months ago that the Department’s priority was to keep I-5, I-84, Route 20 and Route 97 intact, and that other routes were not as much of a priority. A better approach to “transportation triage” would be to focus on maintaining the existing system before even planning to make expansions to capacity, even without considering the issues of Peak Traffic.
Oregon still allows heavier trucks on its roads than California or Washington permit. Shifting some of this freight traffic to railroads would reduce energy consumption and protect our highway bridges. This change needs to be seriously factored in to the SDEIS for the Columbia River Crossing.
We can choose as a society to either expand the highway system some more (NAFTA Superhighways, more Outer Beltways and bypasses, etc) or focus on making sure that the existing network can be maintained after Peak Oil. Unfortunately, few politicians highlight the need to make AMTRAK a serious transportation system for efficiently moving people. A national priority for quality train service would create a lot of good jobs, reduce energy consumption, and make it more likely that the United States will be able to mitigate the inevitable impacts of the end of the petroleum era. Proposals for the 80 new “corridors” in the SAFETEA-LU highway expansion law are a preventable trillion dollar misallocation of resources.
It is likely that about $1 trillion has already been spent to destroy the nation of Iraq (if preparations for the conflict are included), home to the planet's second largest oil reserves. This is more than half of the cost that has been estimated for rebuilding the tens of thousands of deficient highway bridges that are aging and becoming dangerous.
There are several serious - but languishing - proposals for high speed rail in the United States that would be similar to European and Asian networks. Building all of them would probably cost less than the money spent on the War on Iraq.
The Achilles Heel of Highway Expansion Plans
As the world passes the peak of global petroleum production, gasoline prices are likely to increase to the point that traffic demands on roads will be reduced. While it is impossible to accurately predict the price of fossil fuels in the design year of 2030, it will be surprising if gasoline is not rationed on the downslope of the Peak Oil curve (either directly by ration cards or indirectly by pricing it out of reach of many who currently consume it). While so-called alternative fuels exist and there are vehicle designs much more efficient that current models, they are only going to be able to mitigate the energy downslope. Carpooling is going to be more important than hybrids.
US federal transportation law requires that new federal-aid highway projects consider the traffic demand twenty years in the future. In the 1991 ISTEA law, a provision was added to federal highway approvals that requires all highway plans in a metropolitan area to fit into a regional long range transportation budget to avoid a form of fiscal segmentation. If a metro area wants lots of new roads, they have to show how the projects could be paid for (federal and local funds) over a 20 year period. Approving a project that lacks funding is therefore a form of segmentation. The funds need not be available when construction begins, but the entire project has to fit within a constrained transportation budget - a process similar to buying a home with a mortgage (a home buyer has to show their potential ability to raise all of the funds over the span of the loan).
While no one, not even Dick Cheney, knows precisely what will happen with Peak Oil, to ignore it completely and make more “growth” projections and traffic models that assume constant supplies and pricing of petroleum is delusional. When FHWA finally requires energy analyses in NEPA documentation, they could examine a range of scenarios: gasoline at $10 per gallon in 2030, gasoline at $100 per gallon in 2030, and gasoline not available to the public in 2030 (only to elites and the military)
As the world passes the peak of global petroleum production, gasoline prices are likely to increase to the point that traffic demands on roads will be reduced. While it is impossible to accurately predict the price of fossil fuels five, ten, or twenty years in the future, it will be surprising if gasoline is not rationed on the downslope of the Peak Oil curve (either directly by ration cards or indirectly by pricing it out of reach of many who currently consume it). US federal transportation law requires that new federal-aid highway projects consider the traffic demand twenty years in the future -- so the reality of Peak Oil and climate change means that the continent wide rush to build more bypasses, wider bridges, Outer Beltways and NAFTA Superhighways will not be needed. As of July 1, 2008, there are no road projects known to this writer anywhere in North America that have been scaled back or canceled because of Peak Oil and Peak Traffic.
The website www.road-scholar.org suggests some political and legal strategies to prevent this trillion dollar misallocation of resources so that real solutions can be implemented:
- repair or replace worn out bridges (but not with wider bridges) while we still have oil
- invest in public transit & Amtrak
- get ready to travel less
- grow food in the cities (community gardens) and suburbia (food not lawns) to reduce oil dependence of industrial agriculture
Euan Mearns on June 11, 2008 - 4:42pm
Its really hard to come to terms with the number of corporations, government agencies, consultancies, civil service departments and politicians who seem incapable of comprehending a trend break or trend reversal. Collectively they would have been incapable of working out that the wheel may change transport.
http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/4130#comment-359871Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has Peaked
Three dollar a gallon gasoline caused the constant increase in traffic to stop, four dollars a gallon gasoline has precipitated an overall decline in traffic levels.
US Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics
national VMTs peaked about two years ago
traffic levels vary through the year
(there is more driving in the summer than the winter)
Oregon state highway VMT data from
1973: dip due to Saudi oil embargo
1979: dip due to gas lines after Iranian revolution
2002: peak traffic on Oregon highways
This chart from ODOT shows that traffic levels on Oregon State Highways peaked about four years ago, and is on a plateau, mostly because of the increasing price of oil. The US Dept of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows that national Vehicle Miles Traveled peaked in 2005. In May 2008, the Federal Highway Administration stated that March 2008 was the sharpest decline of traffic recorded since they started keeping detailed records - it was 4.3 % less than March 2007. We are on a plateau of traffic that will last as long as oil remains relatively affordable.
The current dip in VMT is not temporary,
it is more like climate change, a permanent shift in the way things work.
SDEIS needed to address “new circumstance” of Peak Oil & Peak Traffic
NEPA mandates that a “Supplemental” EIS must be prepared if there are "new circumstances" not anticipated when the scoping process was conducted. Surely reaching the peak of petroleum production worldwide is an important circumstance for a transportation project allegedly designed for travel long past the peak of petroleum.
If FHWA included Peak Oil into environmental analyses for highway projects, this could create a seismic shift in transportation planning across the United States, allowing for honest public discussion about energy and transportation policies. There are several ways this shift could happen: a successful Federal lawsuit forces FHWA to include Peak Oil, the start of gasoline rationing makes transportation planners consider alternatives, or a change in national policies (probably the least likely in the near future).
Council on Environmental Quality regulations implementing NEPA
40 CFR 1502.9: Draft, final and supplemental statements.
(1) Shall prepare supplements to either draft or final environmental impact statements if:
(i) The agency makes substantial changes in the proposed action that are relevant to environmental concerns; or
(ii) There are significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts.
Federal Highway Administration regulations about NEPA
23 CFR § 771.130 Supplemental environmental impact statements.
(a) A draft EIS, final EIS, or supplemental EIS may be supplemented at any time. An EIS shall be supplemented whenever the Administration determines that:
(1) Changes to the proposed action would result in significant environmental impacts that were not evaluated in the EIS; or
(2) New information or circumstances relevant to environmental concerns and bearings on the proposed action or its impacts would result in significant environmental impacts not evaluated in the EIS.
The End of the Age of Oil: growth is over
Peak Oil does not mean that civilization is about to run out of oil. Instead, we are near (or at) the point where continued growth of petroleum combustion no longer can be maintained, which will have profound consequences for the global economy that is dependent on exponential growth of nearly everything (especially of money supplies). Energy creates the economy, a physical limitation rarely acknowledged by economists. Peak Oil is also the point where the maximum amount of economic "growth" is reached -- and ideally a turning point where we can decide to use the remaining half of the oil as a bridge toward a more sustainable way of living. It would require enormous energy, money and people power to reorient away from NAFTA Superhighways toward investing in bullet trains, away from dirty fossil fuel technologies toward efficiency and renewable energy systems, away from resource wars and toward global cooperative efforts to reduce our collective impact on the planetary biosphere.
why alternative fuels and efficient cars won’t make much difference
Renewable energy systems are largely focused on generating electricity. Transportation systems in the CRC area are almost entirely based on burning liquid fuels, which are not generated by solar PV power or wind turbines.
A bigger problem is that by the design year of 2030, natural gas supplies from the western US and Alberta are likely to have dropped so low that they will no longer be able to be used to generate electricity -- the remaining gas will be needed to heat buildings, especially in the colder climates where the gas is extracted from. Whatever renewable energy systems are installed between now and then will need to replace the substantial inputs that natural gas has for the western electric power grid at the same time that there is less available energy to manufacture solar panels and wind turbines.
All of the major car companies have developed much more efficient vehicles (Greenpeace, “The Environmental Impact of the Car,” 1992), with many models around 100 mpg. VW even has a small model that is highway rated that gets about 250 mpg -- the VW CEO drove it to their annual stockholder meeting a few years ago. While technological shifts may help mitigate the energy crisis after Peak Oil, it cannot eliminate the problem. There are no factories to make these vehicles. There are no capital investments to fund the conversion of existing factories to make hyper-efficient cars. The existing fleet of vehicles are not going to be instantly eliminated in favor of efficient cars, as the owners have invested heavily in their current models -- someone who bought a $50,000 SUV is not easily going to be able to absorb the loss by purchasing a new car that is more efficient. At best, the investment in more efficient vehicles may slow the decline of VMTs on the Peak Oil downslope -- but it cannot prevent that decline. There is also the problem of substantial use of oil and mineral ores to manufacture new cars, even efficient ones. Carpooling is a more promising short term mitigation than hoping for 100 mpg cars.
The main source of “liquid fuels” likely to be promoted in Cascadia is conversion of third growth forests and tree plantations to biofuels. While this could make sense on a small scale, as the downslope of Peak Oil becomes more obvious, there will be immense pressure to liquidate forests and convert them into fuel for cars and trucks and other vehicles. Widespread deforestation to create liquid fuels from tiny trees could result in massive carbon dioxide generation -- since the best form of carbon sequestration is to allow forests to return to old growth conditions. Here are some references to consider on this topic:
Professor and Richardson Chair of Forest Science
Oregon State University
Forest Management Strategies for Carbon Storage
Assistant Professor, Sr. Research, Forest Management, Forest Ecology
Oregon State University
several articles by Professor Krakina
Oregon Wild Report on Forests, Carbon and Global Warming
"The Straight Facts on Forests, Carbon, and Global Warming"
Part I. Background: What determines global temperature and climate?
Part II. How does carbon move in and out of the atmosphere?
Part III. How Will Climate Change Affect the Pacific Northwest?
Part IV. How will climate change affect ecosystems, forests, and trees?
Part V. Will the Forests of the Future Become Carbon Sources or Carbon Sinks?
Part VI. What Can We do to Protect Forests from the Perils of Climate Change?
Part VII. Logging Releases Significant Amounts of Carbon.
Part VIII. What Can We Do To Increase Carbon Storage in Forests?
Part IX: Forest Management Recommendations
Part X. What about Forest Fires?
Part XI. Conclusion
Appendix: Myths & Facts about Forests and Global Warming
former president, Great Bear Foundation. Missoula, Montana
Swiss Army Knives
How Deforestation Changes the Climate
by LANCE OLSEN [posted.5.10.01]
DEIS mention of Peak Oil is inaccurate
Laws of political physics:
For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert.
Experts will travel in a straight line over a cliff unless external forces overwhelm inertia.
Experts will try to maintain equilibrium even when the system has become too unstable .
A critical morass of experts are impervious to inputs from outside the bureaucracy.
The CRC Draft EIS is probably the first to acknowledge the reality of Peak Oil, but unfortunately, the writers of this section failed to describe it accurately. The DEIS suggests that there is a maximum scenario for the year 2030 of $100 a barrel for oil, yet this figure was reached on the first trading day of 2008, four months before the publication of the DEIS. It is astounding that there is no mention in the DEIS of the substantial rise in oil prices during preparation of this report.
One bright spot in the DEIS is the mention of the Department of Energy’s Hirsch Report (2005), although the DEIS failed to mention the conclusions of this analysis. The Hirsch Report stated that we would need twenty years to mitigate the impact of Peak Oil, even if we were using toxic technologies such as coal-to-liquids and tar sands. While the Hirsch Report did not specify an opinion on when the Peak would be, oil production worldwide has been essentially flat since 2005 as new oil fields have had a difficult time making up for declining oil fields in the North Sea, Alaska, the Persian Gulf and other areas. Most geologists who have looked closely at the facts have concluded that we are now past the peak for “conventional oil” and almost at the peak for “all liquids” - the latter being a euphemism for including tar sands, natural gas liquids and other liquids that require nearly as much energy to produce as they contain. The consensus in the scientific community is that the era of easy to extract oil that has the maximum “energy return on energy invested” is over, and now we are entering the era of difficult to extract, expensive oil that will have less return on energy invested.
The largest oil fields in the world are all in obvious decline. Here in the western hemisphere, the largest single field is Cantarell in the Gulf of Mexico (on the Mexican side), and it peaked around 2004 (the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas - USA reports that Cantarell has dropped about 33% in the past year). The Alaska North Slope at Prudhoe Bay peaked in 1988, two decades ago, at about three quarter of a billion barrels for the year. In 2006, less than 300 million barrels flowed through the Alaska Pipeline. Even if the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were opened to drilling, that development would merely slightly change the shape of the downslope. The Earth is finite, therefore there is only so much oil to extract.
2030 design year is past peak
The key points for understanding Peak Oil:
the oil will take decades to run out, peaking is not the same as running out
(2) the exact shape of these curves will probably be different than these predictions,
(3) the issue is when supply no longer keeps up with demand, not when it runs out, and
(4) after the peak, the OPEC countries in the Middle East will have most of the remaining oil
Peak Oil is not about "when the oil will be gone" but rather when demand begins to outstrip supply and production / extraction peaks globally. There probably will be oil extraction for several more decades, although the current perceived abundance (one can buy as much oil as one can afford) is likely to last only a few more years. While petroleum geologists debate the exact timing of the global peak (ranging from essentially now through the middle of the next decade), there isn't any debate about the reality of Peak Oil. Even the most pollyanna view puts the peak at around 2030, although the most experts estimate that somewhere between 2005 and 2012 is more accurate. The pessimists among the geologists who said in the late 1990s that 2010 would be the peak may have been wrong, since there is evidence that 2000 may have been the precise peak, with the rest of this decade being a "plateau" close to 2000 levels before the extraction rates begin their inevitable decline. One factor for determining future levels will be economic forces -- if the global economy crashes into a depression, this would reduce energy consumption rates, making the peak lower and longer lasting (the best possible scenario for using some of the oil as a bridge toward the renewable energy, locally based society). If the economy heats up, then the peak could be higher but shorter, with the downslope coming sooner and steeper. Whatever the exact year, the days of wasteful overconsumption are limited
The only “debate” about peak oil is the exact timing -- from a long term historical perspective, it does not matter whose predictions about the exact year of peak and decline ultimately prove to be correct.
ASPO's latest estimate is the world "peaked" for conventional oil in 2005, and the peak for all oil will be in 2010. The all oil figure includes unconventional oil such as heavy oil (tarsand / oil shale), polar, deep water, and natural gas liquids. The world is now on the Petroleum Plateau, which will drop off sometime after 2010.
from the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, February 2008 (prepared 2008-01-04)
Colin Campbell, February 2008 issue of ASPO Ireland
PRIVATE INDUSTRY CONFERENCE FINDS MUCH LESS OIL
Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007
(Podcast) A secretive gathering some of the world’s biggest oil companies has concluded the industry will discover far less oil than officially forecast, according to an executive who attended the event, meaning global oil production may peak much sooner than many expect.
The Hedberg Research Conference on Understanding World Oil Resources was held by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in Colorado Springs last November to try to reconcile widely divergent estimates of likely future reserves additions. In an interview with Lastoilshock.com, oil executive Ray Leonard said the majority view was that future oil discovery would amount to some 250 billion barrels, rather than the 650 billion barrels suggested by the United States Geological Survey.
Published on 1 Feb 2007 by Bloomberg. Archived on 1 Feb 2007.
Simmons says global oil supply has peaked
by Rhonda Schaffler
Matthew Simmons, chairman of Simmons & Co. International in Houston, talked yesterday with Bloomberg's Rhonda Schaffler about the need to address energy use, his view that global supply has peaked and the likelihood oil prices could reach as much as $300 a barrel. (Source: Bloomberg)
[Transcription of the first few minutes of the interview]
Q: Tell me how you draw your conclusion that at this point we've hit Peak Oil.
A: If you look at the numbers and you follow what's going on starting with Mexico's giant Cantarell field which is now in a very serious state of decline and then you look at the North Sea and you see just the UK and Norway, it's pretty obvious to me that those three areas alone could actually decline by between 800,000 and 1 million barrels a day in 2007.
That pretty well wipes out almost all the production gains coming onstream and in implicit in that it assumes that everyone else is flat.
So I think basically too many of our oil fields are too old. Too many now are in decline. The Middle East is basically out of capacity. they're some projects that are being worked upon, but most don't hit the market until 2008, 2009 and we're running out of time.
... I am firmly of the belief that over the course of the next year or two, this issue of peak oil will replace global warming as an issue that we're all worrying, debating and talking about.
FORMER PRESIDENT BUSH ENERGY ADVISER SAYS OIL IS RUNNING OUT
Robin Pagnamenta, Energy and Environment Editor
From The Times
June 30, 2008
The era of globalisation is over and rocketing energy prices mean the world is poised for the re-emergence of regional economies based on locally produced goods and services, according to a former energy adviser to President Bush and the pioneer of the “peak oil” theory.
Matt Simmons, chief executive of Simmons & Company, a Houston energy consultancy, said that global oil production had peaked in 2005 and was set for a steep decline from present levels of about 85 million barrels per day. “By 2015, I think we would be lucky to be producing 60 million barrels and we should worry about producing only 40 million,” he told The Times.
His controversial views, rejected by many mainstream experts, suggest that some of the world's biggest oilfields, particularly in Kuwait and those of Saudi Arabia, the world's leading producer, are in decline. “It's just the law of numbers,” he said. “A lot of these oilfields are 40 years old. Once they roll over, they roll over very fast.”
Mr Simmons asserted that this, coupled with soaring global energy demand, meant that world oil prices were likely to continue rising. He said that even at present record highs of more than $140 a barrel, oil remained relatively inexpensive, especially in the US, the world's biggest market. “We are just spoiled rotten in the US,” he said. “It's still cheap.”
Rising prices will force a tectonic shift in the structure of the global economy by destroying the rationale for shipping many goods, such as food, over long distances, he said. “This is already happening. In the US, our local farms, ranches and dairies are booming. They are having a huge comeback.”
Mr Simmons set out a radical vision of the future, envisaging a society in which food and many other essentials are sourced and consumed locally and increasing numbers of people work from home. He claimed that the alternative was increasing political instability and conflict over the planet's diminishing resources. “We are living in an unsustainable society,” he said. “If we don't change we are just going to start fighting one another...So let's just start assuming the worst and plan for it.”
However, only this month, BP disclosed figures which indicated that the world had 1.24 trillion proven barrels of oil left in the ground - more than 40 years' worth at current rates of production. BP said that known global reserves had actually increased by 168.5 billion barrels, or 14 per cent, over the past decade. Tony Hayward, the chief executive of BP, said: “The good news is the world is not running out of oil.”
BP blamed a lack of investment and access to reserves, rather than geology, for why global oil production was sputtering.
Mr Simmons claimed that many countries had overstated their reserves for political purposes and that so-called flow rates were a better indicator of recoverable volumes. He said that the quality of oil produced by Saudi Arabia and other big exporters was declining.
Peak Oil causing Peak Traffic
The 2005 Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Inter County Connector highway in Maryland, part of the long planned Outer Beltway around Washington, D.C., had this response to a comment that referenced Peak Oil as a reason not to build the road:
It is speculative to assume that increases in gasoline prices will "reduce congestion." Evidence indicates that very substantial price increases might be needed in order to substantially change transportation choices and decisions. Price increases could cause a variety of responses which might not affect highway usage; e.g. production and acquisition of more fuel-efficient vehicles. The travel forecasts were made assuming a cost per mile for operating an automobile. Historically as the price of gasoline has increased the miles traveled per gallon of gas have also increased. In fact, gas costs less per mile traveled today than it did prior to the first oil embargo in 1974. Petroleum scarcity as a result of consumption in China is speculative.
Final Environmental Impact Statement, Inter County Connector (I-370), Maryland
This EIS was correct to state that planning for rising gas prices is speculative, but planning as if prices will remain constant for the next two decades is even more speculative.
It is not “speculation” to predict that higher gas prices will prevent traffic increases. Here is a small example of how this works, which shows that the price increases likely from Peak Oil will lower traffic demand considerably in the design year of 2030.
Americans drive less for first time in 25 years
Higher gas prices cut not only sales of SUVs, but also time spent on the road: study.
POSTED: 3:47 p.m. EST, November 30, 2006
HOUSTON (Reuters) -- High gasoline prices not only slowed fuel demand growth and cut sales of gas-guzzling vehicles in 2005, they also prompted Americans to drive less for the first time in 25 years, a consulting group said in a report Thursday.
The drop in driving was small - the average American drove 13,657 miles (21,978.8 km) per year in 2005, down from 13,711 miles in 2004
More riders crowd buses
The rising cost of driving sends record numbers to LTD, where human traffic jams the aisles
BY JEFF WRIGHT
Published: Thursday, April 6, 2006
TRAFFIC AT THE YORK TOLLS on the Maine Turnpike - a standard measure of tourism in the state - was down in June and even more in July compared with the same time last year. . . Traffic passing through the York tolls had increased every year until five years ago, when it became stable. This is the first time it has dropped significantly; the decrease was 5.3 percent when comparing June 2004 and June 2005, and 5.8 percent when comparing July numbers. . The national average price for regular unleaded gas was $2.41 a gallon, compared with $1.86 a year ago
High gasoline prices filling bus, train seats
Tue Apr 25, 2006
By Bernie Woodall, Reuters
Some mass transit advocates hesitate to say the price spike has forced drivers onto public transportation, including Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black.
But in some cities where the car is undisputed king of transportation such as Houston and Los Angeles, public transportation ridership is up.
In Houston, home to many oil refineries, ridership was up 10.2 percent in the most recent fiscal year, said Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority, which has a large bus fleet.
In Los Angeles, Metro Rail ridership rose 11.4 percent and the number of bus passengers increased 7 percent in the first quarter of 2006. About 1.4 million ride Los Angeles County buses and trains daily.
It's difficult to say how many are on board because of gasoline prices, said Dave Sotero of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
"When gas prices go up, we do see spikes in ridership," said Sotero. "We're hopeful people who haven't used public transit, they will carry on riding even if gasoline prices drop," said Sotero.
Last week, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in the nation's capital had the two highest ridership days in the Metrorail's 30-year history that were not linked to a special event. The highest day was April 20, with 780,820 riders, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.
But WMATA spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said it's hard to peg that on gasoline prices -- nice weather last week may have had more to do with it, he said.
These statistics do not suggest a major shift (yet) due to increasing gas prices, but they hint at much larger changes to come on the petroleum downslope.
Soaring costs throw Oregon road projects a curve
Rough road - Officials are facing steep price increases for asphalt and other materials
Monday, July 31, 2006
Asphalt prices delay pressing road repairs
By Joseph Gidjunis
The Daily Times, Salisbury, Maryland
Fri, Jun. 16, 2006
Asphalt prices skyrocket, highway officials scramble to adjust
Asphalt Prices May Mean Fewer New Shreveport Street
Climate greenwash: a quiz
The states of Oregon and Washington are planning to spend about $4 billion for a new, widened I-5 bridge across the Columbia River, which would also extend the Portland light rail a couple more stops (across the river into downtown Vancouver). What did Oregon Transportation Commissioner Gail Achterman say about the environmental impacts of this expansion?
a. "The Columbia River Crossing project is a major forward step in our effort to reduce the carbon footprint of our transportation system"
b. "We are canceling the highway component of this project and diverting the funds toward public transit in metropolitan Portland and high speed passenger rail for Cascadia" (Eugene to Vancouver BC).
c. "The State of Oregon recognizes the seriousness of the Peak Oil and Climate Change crises, and we are going to implement the Oregon Transportation Plan's policy guidelines to prioritize fixing existing roads before building new capacity."
d. "The I-5 widening is part of the national NAFTA Superhighway proposals, so the state is opposing this proposal to encourage support for regional business instead of outsourcing our production to foreign sweatshops."
chart from ODOT of carbon pollution reduction targets through 2050. The black line includes the increases during the Clinton/Gore administration. Yellow upward line represents plans for continued “growth.” Note that the shape and rate of the downslope almost mirrors the projected downslope of the Peak Oil curve.
In our new Orwellian age of greenwash, war is peace, ignorance is strength, and widening the Interstate highways will clean up the atmosphere. Building multibillion dollar bridges with huge amounts of steel and concrete is very energy intensive and generates a large amount of toxic pollution to manufacture the raw materials. Even building the light rail (and not the road bridge) would increase carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. “Carbon credits” and “offsets” are linguistic tricks, since building a train or installing solar panels and wind turbines cannot sequester existing CO2 back into the crust of the Earth. Proposals to reduce the rate of increase of carbon pollution are not the same thing as removing soot from the atmosphere. The natural biological capabilities of carbon sequestration are already busy absorbing normal CO2 generation from animals and other natural sources, so they are unable to absorb CO2 and methane created by burning fossil fuels.
Instead, it appears likely that oil rationing (whether from price increases or official policy) and depletion is going to reduce the growth of carbon emissions. Calls to reduce carbon levels by various percentages by the year 2050 parallel almost exactly the expected reduction in oil production / extraction. Natural gas is likely to decline faster than oil -- at least in North America. Even coal has been exaggerated, with global coal extraction set to peak around 2025 -- although coal mining requires lots of oil (for transport) and a stable electric grid.
The SDEIS needs to look at the cumulative impact of building a 12 lane bridge, of the land use patterns that would be induced from the new, wider bridge, and the total toxic impact of building the largest option bridge.
Saving Oil in a Hurry: carpooling is part of the answer
In 2005, the International Energy Agency held a forum to discuss “Saving Oil in a Hurry.” While in the long run fossil fuel supplies are going to gradually decline, there are numerous scenarios where sudden sharp downward levels of availability could happen -- conflict in oil exporting countries, severe hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico offshore drilling areas, desire by oil exporters to reduce exports since oil will be more valuable in the future, a US / Israeli attack on Iran followed by Iranian disruption of oil flows through the Persian / Arabian Gulf. There are also plausible possibilities that some oil fields could see much more rapid decline that some planners are hoping for, especially those oil fields that are being pumped out with large volumes of water (a technique that works for a while but risks collapse of the oil field).
The Saving Oil in a Hurry report suggested that in the United States and Canada, carpooling would have greater energy reductions in the US than free public transit, although no one approach is sufficient. In Western Europe, free transit would have the single biggest reduction in oil consumption. All approaches will be needed, but the opportunity of using all of the seats in the existing traffic flow shows the potential for quick reductions of energy use -- an opportunity that is a social obstacle, not a technological problem.
Regardless of which geologists are ultimately proven correct about oil supplies, we need to prepare to live with much less energy consumption.
Workshop: Managing oil demand in transport.
International Energy Agency
European Conference of Ministers of Transport
WORKSHOP: MANAGING OIL DEMAND IN TRANSPORT
Paris, 7-8 March, 2005
NAFTA Superhighway - ISTEA, TEA-21, SAFETEA-LU
The NAFTA Superhighways are not ONE highway plan, they are a large network of new highways and expanded (existing) highways, a series of north-south interstate highways across the U.S. These new and expanded roads would stretch from Canada through the U.S. to Mexico (excepting certain East Coast routes that would merely connect to ports on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts).
The initial proposal for NAFTA Superhighways was in the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) Federal transportation law, but has now expanded in scope to encompass several "superhighways on steroids." Some of these oversized roads would have many car lanes, truck only lanes, parallel freight train lines, passenger train lines and utility corridors (electricity, oil, natural gas, water, etc).
ISTEA specified the first iteration of the "NAFTA Superhighway" -- to extend I-69 from Indianapolis (its current southern terminus) all the way to Mexico. Highwaymen from several states who each wanted their local and regional boondoggles got together and petitioned Congress to create this full route as a national priority "corridor." The new I-69 is planned to go through southern Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. The southern Indiana section is probably closest to being built.
The 1998 "TEA-21" and 2005 "SAFETEA-LU" laws expanded from the few dozen new "corridors" in the 1991 ISTEA law and the 2005 law has a total of 80 corridors. Some of these corridors involve upgrading existing highways, some involve construction on "new alignment," a couple of the corridor designations specify numerous road projects in a region.
The planning for NAFTA Superhighways is predicated on continued cheap and abundant gasoline -- an assumption about to receive sobering reality from the underlying geological limits of petroleum production. NAFTA Superhighways are essentially a key component of further "globalization" of commodity production intended to homogenize local communities and further centralize control over manufacturing.
None of the national environmental groups who claim to be concerned about global warming, energy efficiency and public transportation have campaigned against passage of these NAFTA superhighway laws. Some of these groups even supported their passage since a minority of the bill included public transit funding and a few pennies (relatively speaking) for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
1991 ISTEA “priority corridors” - upgrading I-5 from Canada to Mexico is included
This is the bill that some environmental groups considered a great victory for the environment since there were some small improvements for transportation planning requirements (all State DOTs now need a pedestrian / bicycle coordiator, there are new requirements for metropolitan planning for new roads, etc.). However, the bulk of this transportation law was to fund more highways.
from the 2005 “SAFETEA-LU” transportation law
the High Priority Corridors map was copied from the Federal Highway Administration website at
Corridors of the Future program includes CRC and upgrading I-5 in California
The FHWA "Corridors of the Future" program is a new corollary to the NAFTA Superhighway proposals. Some of the "corridors of the future" would include major expansions of east-west highways (especially near Chicago) that would interconnect the north south new / expanded superhighways.
The new I-69 NAFTA Superhighway is one of the selected "corridors" for national prioritization.
Upgrading I-5 between Canada and Mexico is also a "corridor of the future," although they don't like to use the term NAFTA Superhighway even though I-5 connects Canada, the US and Mexico.
The biggest part of the NAFTA Superhighway is the Trans Texas Corridor project, a series of planned super highways without parallel (yes, they are bigger in Texas). It would include freeways for cars, truck only lanes, freight and passenger rail lines, and utilities - power lines, water pipes, oil and gas pipelines. It is a prototype of several other "corridors" around the country, including the Washington Commerce Corridor planned between Vancouver, WA and Vancouver, B.C.
truck lanes - vehicle lanes - high speed passenger rail - commuter / freight rail - utility zone
Trans Texas Corridor cross section - the model for the “NAFTA Superhighways”
movie about the planned Trans Texas Corridor superhighways (in opposition)
blog for "Truth Be Tolled"
The Trans-Texas Corridors, eminent domain abuse, and the Texas Toll Road Rebellion
the concept of Interstate 69 as a "NAFTA Highway" was conceived by Indiana officials who really wanted the Interstate 69 southwestern extension. To get federal funding, they planned a multi-state routing that would cut through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas on its way to Mexico. By marketing the whole "NAFTA Corridor" concept, officials and businessmen in Indiana were able to get federal money behind the project. Of course, money was also secured for the Indiana section.
Get Your Kicks on Route 6-6-6
I think of a world where fuel is so expensive, and products are so costly to move, that one needs a permit to enter that NAFTA Transnational Superhighway. I imagine that without paying someone off, it will be impossible to get that permit. Wal-Mart gets one. Dole will be cruising it too. Of course Proctor and Gamble, and you can name a few dozen others. And they’ll be fast freight trains and bullet trains that will carry ‘approved’ citizens from one place to another. There’ll be fiber optic cable lines running along side to keep our communications open. Once on the highway, the limousines and huge container carriers and trains can fill-up the tank without limits, because, after all, you have a permit to be on there anyway. Along side this Superhighway, are the gas and oil pipelines, and of course, THAT’s why you need the permit to enter, or at least that’s the excuse. Gas flows down from Canada, for as long as it lasts, and oil flows up, until the last trickle. It is paid for by Ameros, a proposed currency I never even heard of until a few days ago. Euros, Ameros, Get it?
Washington Commerce Corridor
In Washington State, the DOT has studied creating a "Washington Commerce Corridor" between Vancouver WA and Vancouver BC with car lanes, truck lanes, freight and passenger rail, and utilities (electric lines, water, oil, gas, etc). This is the same model as the Trans Texas Corridor proposals (a large network of new highways around Texas with separate facilities for cars, trucks, freight trains, passenger rail and utilities).
The SDEIS for the I-5 Columbia River Crossing needs to explain how the CRC would interface with the Washington Commerce Corridor proposal, since the WSDOT map shows they are contiguous. Would the Commerce Corridor have “independent utility” if it was approved but the CRC is not? Is the CRC a first step toward construction of the Commerce Corridor? These issues need full examination in the SDEIS.
proposed "Washington Commerce Corridor" - giant NAFTA Superhighway style bypass
from Vancouver WA to Vancouver BC
July 7, 2004
Turnpike to Perdition
The idea of a 'commerce corridor,' an enormous toll highway through Western Washington, just won't die.
Stop the "I-605 sprawl highway” –
Tell state to focus on real transportation priorities!
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and private consultants are studying the feasibility of a new north-south interstate highway, marketed as a bi-national commerce corridor between Oregon and British Columbia. The proposal for a new 450 foot-wide highway and pipeline corridor east of I-405, is a thinly veiled attempt to build the I-605 beltway – a new highway bypass around the Greater Seattle Metropolitan Area.
Neither a bi-national commerce corridor, nor a new I-605 beltway in the Central Puget Sound Region, would significantly reduce traffic congestion, but both would lead to urban sprawl and destroy farms, forests, and habitat. Further study and funding for I-605 is a waste of valuable time and money that should instead be used to address urgent transportation priorities.
Tolling without tollbooths: the J. Edgar Hoover Memorial Bridge
I oppose the surveillance system to track everyone’s tolls. I would support instead paying for transportation projects through the gasoline tax - those who drive more, those who drive less efficiently would pay more. Pay for the transit component of this project with gasoline taxes, and you’ll make more of a dent on the transportation congestion than putting up cameras to record everyone’s license plate so that the voyeurs who want to know where everyone is all of the time can spy on the entire population.
The tolling system would charge someone driving a hummer the same as someone driving a hybrid. Gasoline taxes would shift the burden to those driving less efficiently, whether driving a fuel inefficient vehicle, speeding at 70 mph (versus 55) or otherwise driving aggressively in ways that increase fuel consumption.
Coalition for a Livable Future “Climate Smart” Alternative
The Coalition for a Livable Future has proposed a “Climate Smart” alternative. Part of this alternative is worthy of support, part of it is not. Their proposal would build the light rail bridge, but would also establish the surveillance system on the existing bridge.
The Coalition’s CRC alternatives reports ignore Peak Oil / Peak Traffic as a reason not to build a 12 lane highway bridge and lack any awareness of the civil liberties implications of the tolling scheme that you support. Climate change is a reason not to build this, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any legal hooks to use rising pollution levels to stop the bridge - since EIS's merely require disclosure of impacts, not their prevention. The reality of Peak Oil, on the other hand, can alter the traffic planning analyses used to justify these sorts of boondoggles, since in 2030 we will be lucky if we will be allowed to buy oil for personal consumption. Whatever the price and availability in 2030 turns out to be, it clearly will be considerable more expensive and less available two decades in the future. The CRC project needs a Supplemental Draft EIS to redo their analysis to reflect the reality of Peak Oil and Peak Traffic -- phenomena that are not going to be substantially shifted even if we had a crash program to build hybrid cars and banned SUVs (since we've waited too long to start the transition). Peak Traffic is the Achilles Heel of highway expansion proposals, and could be used to establish a precedent in federal court that would require a shift toward maintenance and transit projects (where are the environmental groups promoting Amtrak upgrades?).
We are not going to have a "livable future" if there's not much demand from environmental groups for ecological, socially just approaches to coping with the end of cheap oil as we navigate the downslope of Hubbert's Peak. Improving transit systems is nice, but only a tiny part of what would need to be done - food is likely to be a more serious problem than the obstacles to personal transportation.
Instead of an electronic toll that gives the Department of Fatherland Security a database of everyone's travels, taxing gasoline at the pump is more equitable since it charges for all trips, rewards those who drive the speed limit (speeding wastes fuel), encourages more efficient cars (tolls tax Hummers and Hybrids the same). A gas tax coupled with rebates for the poor would be the ideal solution, one that the Democratic Party probably wouldn't support but this doesn't mean the environmental groups have to support their myopia. Merely having a toll would penalize the poor since the wealthy aren't going to be substantially impacted by paying a couple bucks to cross the bridge every day.
Some of the literature from the CRC opponents even suggests the need for a a "carbon neutral" river crossing. However, the only “carbon neutral” alternative would be swimming or perhaps paddling a canoe (if the canoe was made from locally available materials and did not involve any fossil fuels in its manufacture). Even the light rail (which I support) would not be so-called "carbon neutral" since a lot of coal and some natural gas is burned for Portland's electricity.
If the light rail fuels a lot more construction in Vancouver WA (doubtful given the economic contraction that is now unfolding) then it could lead to an increase in car traffic (since only some of the new workers or residents would use the rail system). Building with concrete and steel uses lots of fossil fuels and minerals -- something to consider given we are past the point of "overshoot." Smart growth would have been a good idea in 1950, but now it is too little, too late.
It's worth remembering Martin Luther King's objections to highways, made the week before the federal government stopped his campaigning for justice:
“These forty million [poor] people are invisible because America is so affluent, so rich; because our expressways carry us away from the ghetto, we don't see the poor.”
-- Martin Luther King, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," March 31, 1968
The Coalition for a Livable Future includes David Evans and Associates on their board even though they are one of the main ODOT contractors for new highway construction in Oregon. DEA is a key contractor for the Columbia River Crossing and the Sunrise Freeway in Clackamas County, among other road projects. It seems like a conflict of interest even if David Evans and Associates has some staff who do non-highway projects (light rail, perhaps?).
Jo Ann Bowman, Member at Large
Sam Chase, Community Development Network
Amanda Fritz, Friends of Arnold Creek
Lisa Gramp, Member at Large
Felisa Hagins, SEIU Local 49
Mike Houck, Urban Greenspaces Institute
Mary Kyle McCurdy, 1000 Friends of Oregon
Marcy McInelly, American Institute of Architects
Martha McLennan, Northwest Housing Alternatives
John Mullin, Social Services of Clackamas County Inc.
Marcus Mundy, Urban League of Portland
Kelly Rodgers, David Evans and Associates
Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland
Lara Skinner, Member at large
Reviving the Rails: a best case Peak Oil scenario
"In the United States, we have a railroad system that the Bulgarians would be ashamed of. We desperately are going to need railroad transport for moving people around, for moving goods around – we don’t have that. What we do have is a trucking system that is going to become increasingly dysfunctional, especially as the expense mounts of maintaining the tremendous interstate highway system. It costs so much money every year to maintain what the engineers call a high level of service – which means that the trucks that are delivering things from the central valley of California to Toronto don’t break their axles while they’re bringing those Caesar salads to Toronto. Once you have a certain number of trucks that are breaking their axles in that 3,000 mile journey, that’s the end of transcontinental trucking – which also implies that this is the end of certain economic relationships that we have gotten used to."
-- author James Howard Kunstler, from an interview in the film "The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the End of the American Dream"
It is serious time to look at the nationalization of America's critical infrastructure industries: oil, gas, electricity, and others that have gouged the American consumer and now deserve to lose their windfall profits in a nationalization effort that will return to them ten cents on the dollar, if they are lucky.
-- Wayne Madsen Report, April 25, 2006
In the 1960s, the success of freeway fighters in stopping the Boston Inner Belt spurred Congress to change transportation laws to allow money programmed for Interstate highways to be used for public transit. Several rail systems were created from unused freeway funds, most notably the initial construction phase of the Washington, D.C. Metro.
If the United States ever makes shifts to have an ecological, socially just policy to cope with Peak Oil, it would need to shift money from the NAFTA superhighway program to a serious revival of inter-city rail to efficiently move people and goods with less energy consumption.
A best case scenario for mitigating Peak Oil could include
- bullet train service between cities (with solar panels lining the tracks to provide some of the power),
- light rail and better bus service on major roads,
- major investments in renewable energy and hyper-conservation,
- land use shifts to reduce commuting distances,
- widespread suburban agriculture to convert lawns into food production (which would reduce truck deliveries),
- other steps to reduce our demand for oil, coal, natural gas, uranium, concrete, and mineral ores.
If we continue on the current road of overshoot, the likely consequence will be a “national Katrina” disaster, where a small group would still have access to fuels, capital, and quality food while a much larger underclass would be left to scramble for survival. But that dismal potential shares one outcome with the “positive scenario” -- both the cooperative, conservation future and the collapse scenario would greatly reduce need for more highways. Whether we cope with Peak Oil and climate change or continue to ignore the problems until they become catastrophic and un-mitigable, there is no need to continue to expand highway network.
Relocalizing production and building renewable energy systems is a bigger priority for using the remaining oil than more freeways for Wal-Mart delivery trucks.
Future generations will regret that essential farmland was paved over - not that one more dumb highway was not built.
Politicians who have nothing practical for the public to mitigate the consequences of Peak Oil risk being thrown out of office once the price of gas goes up and stays up. Who will get the blame for ignoring the issue?
The most important question regarding planning for 2030 is what type of economy we will have after the cheap abundant oil is replaced by expensive, scarce oil. Will we use the remaining oil to relocalize production and build lots of renewable energy equipment or will this oil be used to build more freeways and fuel a futile World War to control the remaining oil fields? The answers to these questions determine the future of the human race.
This map shows a proposal from US Department of Transportation for high speed rail in the United States. Note that the Cascadia high speed train service has languished in obscurity, unfunded, ignored by politicians proclaiming themselves to be green and interested in “sustain a bull” transportation. While Washington State is making some modest upgrades to the train line -- which will provide some slightly faster Amtrak service -- the State of Oregon is doing its best to ignore problems of Willamette Valley train service.
The ODOT report “I-5 Rail Capacity Study” (February 2003), archived at www.oregon.gov/ODOT/RAIL/docs/railcapstudy.pdf estimated it would cost about $170 million to make substantial fixes to the freight rail network in the Portland area to permit increased passenger train service and unclog freight train congestion (partially caused by the import of cheap crap from China into western ports in Portland, Seattle, Tacoma and other locations).
The SDEIS needs to consider increased Amtrak service from Vancouver, Washington to Union Station in downtown Portland as part of the transportation mix.
Amtrak: old and new (80 and 120 mph theoretical speeds if the tracks were fixed). The Amtrak Cascades could connect cities much quicker if the tracks were upgraded to accommodate the speed it is capable of.
A side issue: solar photovoltaic panels should be installed along the tracks of the light rail, along I-5, and even along the freight rail routes where possible. This is done in a growing number of European communities, since the right of way is already cleared (and usually in public ownership). Perhaps solar panels could be used to create a roof over the bike path on the future light rail CRC bridge to keep bicyclists and pedestrians dry during the rainy season.
ACELA: Amtrak’s high speed service from Washington, D.C. to Boston (150 mph). It is not quite the same quality of service as found in Japan, France, Germany, the Eurotunnel, Taiwan, Korea and other places with dedicated high speed routes, but it is the best train route in North America. How many high speed routes could be built for the cost of a new Trident submarine, more Stealth bombers or other Weapons of Mass Destruction that are Made in the USA? Unfortunately, even if there was a national shift in priorities to build super trains, the locomotives would have to be imported since there is almost no domestic train production capacity after decades of deliberate neglect. (The Amtrak Cascades train was built in Spain, not Puget Sound or the Willamette Valley.)
Maglev: 220 to 300 mph - German test track
proposed pilot projects for magnetic levitation trains in the U.S.
Rebuttal of DEIS energy sections
Policies at the federal, state and local levels support energy conservation
for all sectors, including transportation. Transportation energy efficiency
is largely regulated though requirements on vehicle manufacturers rather
than transportation infrastructure. There are no established standards to
determine when a transportation project has an energy “impact.” This
DEIS compares the relative energy demands of the different CRC
alternatives and discusses options that could reduce energy consumption
during project construction and operations. This information is based on
the CRC Energy Technical Report.
3.12.1 Existing Conditions
This section gives an overview of national and state energy supply and
demand, with a focus on transportation demand and on petroleum—the
primary energy source for transportation.
National Energy Demand
At the national level, industrial uses had the highest share of energy
demand in 2005. However, the transportation sector’s energy demand is
expected to grow by 1.4 percent annually—to a 29.9 percent share by
2030—and will exceed the industrial sector’s demand. Of the total
energy projected to be used by transportation in 2030, 97.4 percent is
expected to come from liquid fuels and other petroleum products. Even
note: in other words, transportation is going to remain very dependent on liquid fuels. Petroleum has the highest energy density of any known liquid fuels and has the greatest Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) of any known liquid fuels.
with improvements in fuel consumption rates and increasing use of
alternative fuel sources, the high passenger travel demand and increasing
use of trucks for freight is expected to result in a substantial increase in
energy demand. The transportation sector (including aviation, marine,
note: this alleged increase in demand is unlikely to be met with a parallel increase in supply. Just because there is a demand does not mean that oil fields can be extracted faster.
freight rail and roads) accounts for about 68 percent of our nation’s
Washington and Oregon Energy Demand
The total demand for all energy sources in Washington State has grown
steadily, although the per capita consumption rate has declined several
times since the early 1970s. The demand for energy from coal and
natural gas in Oregon and Washington is substantially lower than the
national average, but is offset by the demand for hydro-electric power.
Washington is the leading hydroelectric power producer in the nation.
However, as of 2004, energy derived from petroleum products accounted
for the largest single share (42.0 percent) of energy consumed in
Washington, slightly higher than the 2005 national demand of
40.5 percent. In 2000, approximately 47 percent of Oregon’s energy
consumption came from petroleum. Since then, petroleum’s share of
note: this shows that Oregon’s transportation system is totally dependent on petroleum (since the non petroleum energy supplies generally run the electric power grid, not transportation
total demand has decreased, but still accounts for the largest share of
energy consumption at 35.7 percent, notably lower than the national
average. As illustrated in Exhibit 3.12-1, the transportation sectors in
Washington and Oregon (including aviation, marine, freight rail and
roads) account for about 71 percent and 82 percent, respectively, of each
state’s total petroleum consumption. In Washington, state-wide
petroleum demand in the industrial sector is nearly four times that of
Oregon, increasing Washington’s non-transportation use of petroleum.
COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING
3-318 CHAPTER 3 ENERGY
Peak Oil and Global Supply
Peak oil refers to the time frame in which the
maximum global petroleum production rate is
reached, after which the rate of production
enters a terminal decline. Peak oil and its
relevance to the CRC project is discussed in
the Cumulative Impacts section.
The trend toward more fuel-efficient vehicles is expected to continue in
the future because of recent government requirements for higher fuel efficiency
standards and rising petroleum prices. Promoting alternative
fuel sources for transportation, such as ethanol, biodiesel, compressed
natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and electricity has also been
increasing. Nonetheless, petroleum demand in Washington, Oregon and
the project area is projected to increase.
Washington and Oregon Petroleum Supply
Because gasoline and diesel are the primary energy sources for the
transportation sector, the analysis of energy supply focuses on
petroleum-based fuel sources. Approximately 90 percent of
Washington’s current supply of crude oil comes from the Alaska North
Slope. Five refineries in the Puget Sound area distribute refined
petroleum products to Washington and adjacent states. Oregon imports
100 percent of its petroleum, of which approximately 90 percent comes
from Washington refineries. Both states’ future supply of petroleum is
largely dependent on domestic production and reserves. Oil production
from the North Slope peaked in 1988 and is projected to continue
note: In other words, Oregon and Washington are totally dependent on outside sources for oil, and the main source of that oil has been in decline for two decades -- down by two-thirds since the peak.
Energy Use in the CRC Project Area
The estimated existing daily energy use for the regional transit system
(including the regional MAX light rail system and all of C-TRAN’s and
TriMet’s buses and other transit vehicles) is approximately 2.8 x 109
Btus. For cars and trucks crossing the river on I-5 and I-205, the
estimated daily energy use is about 1.3 x 109 Btus. The estimate for
existing and future highway energy use is based only on the crossing
portion of highway trips. It does not estimate regional highway energy
demand or even project wide demand. The reason for setting these
boundaries for the highway energy estimates is twofold. First, the impact
on highway energy demand outside the corridor would be minimal.
Second, highway speeds and congestion have a strong influence on fuel
efficiency and thus energy demand. Traffic analysis completed for the
CRC project provides reliable speed and congestion estimates for the
river crossing, but not elsewhere in the region. For these two reasons,
rebuttal: Neither Oregon nor Washington is planning to reduce highway speed limits to the Nixon era 55 mph to reduce energy consumption (although when the oil crunch becomes more obvious this decision may become inevitable). While idling cars do waste oil, cars traveling 55 mph also use lots of oil, and the impacts of “induced traffic” and induced sprawl development from new highway construction / expansion need to be factored in to these analyses. It is incorrect to suggest that a bigger bridge will reduce energy consumption - the excessive construction would be very energy intensive and the plans for extra traffic versus a Peak Traffic Alternative would consume vast oceans of fuel.
highway-related energy demand is based on the estimated traffic
volumes, vehicle types and travel speeds for the crossings themselves.
This captures the most meaningful effects and provides a reliable
comparison among alternatives, even though it does not capture all of the
potential highway energy savings.
The analysis of transit-related energy demand looks more broadly,
primarily because this allows the analysis to capture the effect that the
CRC alternatives have on transit operations outside the immediate
3.12.2 Long-Term Effects of Project Alternatives
By 2030, energy consumption by vehicles on regional roadways,
including I-5 and I-205, will increase substantially over existing
conditions. This will occur largely because population growth will
increase the number of cars, trucks, and buses on the road. At the same
time, average vehicle fuel efficiency is expected to improve as new,
DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
ENERGY EXISTING CONDITIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES 3-319
more fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles replace old ones.
rebuttal: It is not physically possible on the downslope of oil extraction for future consumption to be greater than the peak of production. While fuel efficiency may increase, the overall availability of energy will decline faster than federal mandates to force higher mileage standards. Alternative fuels that are under consideration have substantially lower “energy return on energy invested,” so they will not be able to replace existing use of oil.
Exhibit 3.12-2 shows predicted fuel consumption in the year 2030.
Highway energy use is projected to decrease for all of the build
alternatives compared to the No-Build Alternative. Highway-related
energy savings would likely be greater than shown as this table indicates
only the energy reductions associated with the actual river crossing. The
lower energy demand for the highway crossing is due to three primary
• Increased I-5 bridge capacity decreases the duration of congestion
and increases average speeds. This improves fuel efficiency.
Compared to stop and go traffic, fuel efficiency improves as average
speeds increase, until the speeds reach free flow conditions.
rebuttal: Peak Traffic means that before 2030, substantial reductions in traffic flow are a certainty, thus removing the alleged “need” for highway widening across the river. Instead, extra effort should be made for expanded light rail, carpooling, world-class Amtrak service, better bus service, and other initiatives to help citizens cope with the end of cheap oil.
• CRC provides high-capacity transit that is expected to divert a
portion of personal vehicular travel demand to transit, which uses
less energy per passenger.
• Tolling the I-5 crossing is expected to deter some trips across the
river, which reduces energy demand.
rebuttal: a more equitable means to raise the funds would be to tax gasoline at the pump, preferably at the same level on each side of the state border. Refunds could be pro-rated to lower income people to prevent an apartheid transportation system based on class. Forcing poorer people onto the new light rail train while richer people continue to drive is a form of environmental injustice.
Total energy use would rise with Alternatives 4 and 5 primarily due to
the increased level of transit operations. Total energy use would decline
with Alternatives 2 and 3 compared to the No-Build Alternative.
Alternative 1: No-Build
Future 2030 Energy Consumption (Million Btu)
I-5 crossing 793.6
I-205 crossing 831.7
Highway Crossing Subtotal 1625.3
Conventional bus 3,238.1
Biodiesel busa 0
Light rail 520.8
Transit Subtotal 3758.9
Source: CRC Energy Technical Report.
a Both transit operators have commitments to biodiesel utilization, and
have begun investing in biodiesel vehicles. But for the No-Build analysis,
no assumptions were made about the percentage of the vehicle fleets
that may one day run on biodiesel. There is similar support for
diesel/electric hybrid vehicles, though no assumptions for such were
made in this analysis
The No-Build Alternative is projected to have higher energy
consumption than Alternatives 2 or 3 (by about 3 percent), and lower
than Alternatives 4 and 5 (by about 6 percent).
rebuttal: it is physically impossible for any alternative proposed today for the year 2030 to have an increase in energy consumption since the energy to be consumed is non-existent. Peak Oil will force a reduction in overall consumption regardless of government plans in Environmental Impact Statements. A Supplemental Draft EIS is needed to accurately project energy supplies in the design year of 2030.
3.12.3 Long-term Effects of Project Components
This section describes impacts of the components that comprise the
Multimodal River Crossing and Highway Improvements
(Replacement Crossing with Alternatives 2 and 3; Supplemental
Crossing with Alternatives 4 and 5)
The highway improvements associated with the replacement crossing
would reduce energy demand relative to the highway improvements
associated with the supplemental crossing because the additional
capacity would decrease the amount of time cars spend in stop and go
traffic. This improves fuel efficiency.
Transit Mode (BRT with Alternatives 2 and 4; LRT with Alternatives
3 and 5)
Light rail would reduce energy demand relative to bus rapid transit,
although the difference is minor. Both modes would reduce energy
demand compared to providing no high-capacity transit system in the
DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
ENERGY EXISTING CONDITIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES 3-323
The additional electrical energy consumed by daily operations of
maintenance bases would be negligible compared to the energy
consumed for transportation. Expanding either the bus maintenance base
in east Vancouver or the light rail maintenance base in Gresham would
not measurably affect long-term energy use.
Transit Terminus and Alignment Options (with all Alternatives)
The Lincoln terminus would use slightly less energy than the Kiggins
Bowl terminus, because it is a more direct and shorter route to North
The transit component of full-length terminus options would consume
more energy than the transit components of either of the minimum
operable segment (MOS) terminus. The Clark College MOS would
require approximately 1.4 percent less energy. The Mill Plain MOS,
which represents the shortest high-capacity transit line length, would
have the lowest energy use by approximately 2.4 percent compared to a
full-length terminus. Construction energy demand would be lower for the
minimum operable segments.
The transit alignment options would not affect the overall energy demand
of the project, as summarized above for the alternatives.
Increased transit operations (service frequency) would increase the
transit operational energy demand compared to the Efficient operations
option. While the Increased transit operations would result in fewer autos
crossing the river, and thus some reduction in highway energy demand,
that decrease is not proportional to the added energy demand from the
substantial increase in transit service associated with the Increased versus
Efficient transit operations.
Tolls on the I-5 crossing are included in all build alternatives. Other
tolling scenarios were studied to analyze how tolling would affect
demand on the roadway.
Under tolled scenarios, the replacement crossing would result in 178,000
daily vehicle trips across the I-5 bridges and 213,000 vehicle trips across
the I-205 bridges. If no toll were collected in 2030, the I-5 crossing’s
daily traffic levels would increase by 32,000 vehicles (18 percent).
I-205’s daily traffic would decrease by 13,000 vehicles (6 percent).
Without tolling, an additional 19,000 (5 percent) cross-river vehicle trips
would be made in 2030.
rebuttal: It is impossible for traffic levels to increase when overall energy supplies will be substantially lower in 2030 than today in 2008. A Supplemental DEIS is needed to model a Peak Traffic Alternative.
Due to the supplemental bridge’s assumed higher toll, less available
highway capacity, and provision of an enhanced transit system, daily I-5
vehicle crossings would be 13,000 vehicles per day lower compared to
the replacement bridge, while I-205’s crossings would increase by 6,000
vehicles per day. Overall, there would be 7,000 fewer vehicle crossings
of the Columbia River via I-5 and I-205.
The No Toll scenario would have the highest daily energy use.
Compared to the No Toll scenario, the Standard Toll on I-5 scenario
would consume approximately 1.9 percent less and the Standard Toll on
COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING
3-324 CHAPTER 3 ENERGY
The approach for estimating energy use
during construction is based on a method
developed by the California Department of
Transportation. It estimates energy
requirements for a variety of construction
activities (building structures, electrical
substations, site grading, etc.) by relating
project costs to the amount of energy
needed to manufacture, process, and install
construction materials and structures.
Both I-5 and I-205 would require approximately 3.6 percent less
3.12.4 Temporary Effects
The method used to estimate energy use from construction is based on
applying a factor to construction cost estimates. This provides a
straightforward albeit relatively simplistic approach for comparing the
relative energy demand of alternatives.
Based on this estimating method, Alternative 3 (replacement crossing
with light rail) would require the most energy to construct (estimated at
about 7.28 x 1012 Btus), followed by Alternative 2 (3.2 percent lower),
Alternative 5 (about 19.7 percent lower), and Alternative 4 (about
23.3 percent lower). Energy to construct Alternative 4, the lowest-cost
full alternative, is estimated at about 5.90 x 1012 Btus. The two minimum
operable segments are shorter and less expensive to build, and would
thus require less construction energy.
For the components that make up the alternatives, light rail construction
would consume more energy than bus rapid transit; and, constructing the
Kiggins Bowl terminus (A) would use more energy than the Lincoln
3.12.5 Potential Mitigation
Potential Mitigation for Temporary Effects
A variety of potential measures could reduce energy consumption from
construction. As the project advances in design, and more detail is
available on construction needs and activities, additional analysis will
help identify specific measures and approaches for reducing energy
consumption during construction. Potential measures include:
• Construction materials reuse and recycling.
Encouraging workers to carpool.
rebuttal: The SDEIS should consider encouraging all workers to carpool, not merely those working on the construction of the CRC.
• Turning off equipment when not in use to reduce energy consumed
• Maintaining equipment in good working order to maximize fuel
• As practical, routing truck traffic through areas where the number of
stops and delay would be minimized, and using off-peak travel times
to maximize fuel efficiency.
• As practical, scheduling construction activities during daytime hours
or during summer months when daylight hours are the longest to
3.19.11 Energy and Peak Oil
Cumulative effects related to energy use are partially incorporated into
the long-term energy demand estimates prepared for the CRC project.
Those estimates are based on travel demand forecasts that factor in
59 Hamlet and Lettenmaier, 1999.
60 Enertech Consultants, 1998.
COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING
3-438 CHAPTER 3 CUMULATIVE EFFECTS
projected local changes in land use patterns, employment, population
growth, and other programmed transportation improvements.
The cumulative energy impact of primary concern is “peak oil.” Peak oil
refers to the point in time at which the maximum global petroleum
production rate is reached, after which the rate of production enters a
terminal decline. Peak oil results from many incremental actions, few of
which are individually important. However, the potential impact of
reaching peak global petroleum production is an important consideration
for projects, such as CRC, intended to address transportation needs for
decades to come.
Oil production in the United States—the world’s third largest oil
producing nation—reached its peak around 1970 and has been in a
declining trend since then. Most estimates place peak global production
occurring some time between 1990 and 2040.
rebuttal: No credible estimates ever placed peak around 1990. Even the earliest projection - from M. King Hubbert in 1956 - estimated that the global peak might be in the mid 1990s. While Hubbert’s 1956 prediction that the US would peak around 1970 was accurate, he was off by a decade for the global peak since he didn’t include the reduction of consumption that happened as a result of the 1973 Saudi Oil Embargo and gasoline disruptions as a result of the Iranian revolution.
Currently, in 2008, no credible scientist estimates that 2040 is the peak of global oil. The only debate among the experts who have closely examined the data is whether we are now at Peak Oil (on a temporary plateau) or whether the peak is just ahead, a couple of years in the future. Some disingenuous voices suggest that tar sands and coal to liquids should be given equal weight in this discussion even though they take nearly as much energy to produce as they contain. When fuels require more energy to produce than they contain, they cease to be sources of energy, regardless what the ostensible price is to purchase.
The SDEIS needs to factor in the best science about the state of petroleum geology and recognize that we are at - or at least near - the point of Peak Oil.
When oil production drops below oil demand, it is likely to cause
petroleum prices to increase. There are uncertainties, however, regarding
peak oil’s timing and the availability of substitute fuels. Peak oil’s effect
on transportation fuel prices and travel behavior will depend largely on
when peak oil occurs and the availability of substitute fuels.
Peak oil’s potential effects on economic activity and travel behavior
could affect the CRC project. The concern is that if substitute fuels are
not readily available as petroleum supplies decrease, the rising cost and
reduced supply of petroleum could directly reduce auto and truck travel,
and could result in dramatic reductions in economic activity, which,
among other effects, could further reduce vehicle trips below forecasts.
These vehicle trip forecasts influence the proposed size, design, and
financing of transportation facilities. If fuel prices increase faster than
expected, then the number of 2030 highway trips could be lower than
forecasted. However, even with relatively substantial fuel price
rebuttal: Fuel prices have already increased faster than the assumptions used in the DEIS, which projected that 100 dollars a barrel might be reached by the year 2030. A SDEIS is needed to re-calibrate the traffic models to factor in the impacts of substantially higher energy prices (oil, natural gas, coal, etc) by 2030.
increases, the future demand would still be greater than the expanded
highway capacity. Because fuel costs represent only a portion of total
transportation costs (which include everything from car payments, to
insurance and maintenance) even large growth in fuel costs translates to
a smaller growth rate in total transportation cost, which is what most
directly affects travel demand in the long term.
Global oil demand is projected to grow by 37 percent by 2030, driven in
large part by transportation needs;62 local transportation energy demand
is expected to grow as well, although the CRC build alternatives are
projected to reduce future transportation petroleum demand compared to
No-Build. At the global scale, these fuel savings will be very small but
incrementally beneficial over the No-Build Alternative.
rebuttal: demand may continue to grow, but no credible geologist suggests at this point (2008) that global oil extraction can grow by 37 percent by 2030. The only debate among Peak Oil experts is whether we have already peaked worldwide, or whether there might be some extra, secret oil in Saudi oil fields and a few other locations that will delay the peak a few years (although not to 2030 under any credible scenario). The work of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil - www.peakoil.net and www.aspo-usa.org - represents the best efforts of the world’s pre-eminent petroleum geologists and does not support the claim that oil flows could theoretically increase in 2030 over current levels. A more realistic analysis would show that by 2030 we are more likely to have a 37 percent REDUCTION in oil supplies, although the decline could be steeper than this.
The CRC alternatives include a number of elements that would reduce
adverse impacts related to peak oil. These include:
• The bridge and highway improvements are focused on replacing or
updating aging infrastructure, not on building new highway corridors
61 Hirsch, 2005.
62 EIA, 2006.
What does the U.S.
Department of Energy say
about peak oil?
A report by the US Department of Energy61
included the following conclusions:
• World oil peaking is going to happen, and will
likely be abrupt.
• The problem is the demand for liquid fuels
(growth in demand mainly from the
Mitigation efforts will require substantial time.
note: The Hirsch Report stated that we would need two decades to minimize the impact. Since Peak Oil is here, now, the subtext of this report is that President Jimmy Carter was right, but the fact that his half hearted efforts were sabotaged by the financial, political and military systems suggests that we are unprepared to cope with the unfolding crisis.
• Both supply and demand will require
• More information is needed to more precisely
determine the peak time frame.
DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
CUMULATIVE EFFECTS EXISTING CONDITIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES 3-439
infrastructure been able to
adapt to change?
Transportation infrastructure has proven to
be relatively adaptable. For example, the
northbound I-5 bridge over the Columbia
River was built in 1917 as a two-lane bridge
that originally carried electric trolley cars and
Model T autos (which ran on either gasoline
or ethanol). While it is now obsolete in terms
of seismic safety and traffic safety design
standards, it was able to periodically adapt to
nearly a century of changes in transportation
technology, energy policy and prices, vehicle
types, and travel behavior.
rebuttal: those changes were in the direction of increased energy consumption. We now face an era of declining energy consumption, a totally new experience without precedent (save for collapses of pre-industrial civilizations such as Rome)
• They include substantial improvements to public transportation, with
projected increases in transit mode share in the afternoon peak
direction from 13 percent with the No-Build to as much as 21
percent with light rail transit
• They provide substantially improved facilities for non-motorized
• They support land use planning that seeks to control sprawl,
concentrate development, and decrease auto dependency
• They include road use pricing (highway tolling)
• Because of the addition of high-capacity transit and the bridge toll,
all build alternatives are projected to have lower daily I-5 river
crossings than under the no-build.
• They improve highway operations at a key pinch point which
improves fuel efficiency and lowers emissions.
rebuttal: Peak Traffic makes this assertion somewhat moot, since less traffic by 2030 will see reduced congestion anyway. Carpooling, increased public transit, telecommuting and other approaches will have more impact on energy consumption that pretending that doubling the width of the highway will reduce energy consumption.
• They increase highway safety which decreases collisions and
congestion, further improving fuel efficiency.
rebuttal: While there may be some traffic safety issues to be mitigated with changes to road design, requiring drivers to prove they still know how to drive and to be courteous when getting a driver’s license renewal would be the single most effective approach. There is no need to double the width of I-5 merely to reduce the risk of accidents, especially as Peak Traffic sets in.
Another concern is the ability of current transportation infrastructure to
adapt to post-peak oil vehicles and technology. Based on the alternative
fuel vehicles that are currently being researched and developed, it is
highly likely that the CRC infrastructure (transit guideway, bridges,
highway, and bike and pedestrian paths) will be able to accommodate
foreseeable changes. Electric hybrids, electric plug-ins, and vehicles
powered by bio-diesel, ethanol, or hydrogen fuel cells are being designed
to operate on modern roads and highways. The CRC transit guideway,
rebuttal: Biodiesel is a great fuel (I use it) but it is unlikely to be scaled up to completely replace petroleum based diesel. Biodiesel also must be blended with petroleum diesel when temperatures go below 40 degrees (F). Some people suggest that (genetically altered) algae may be able to generate liquid fuels in substantial quantities, but this is not yet proven and the risks of these engineered organisms escaping into the environment and causing massive pollution is not well understood.
A biomass opponent recently wrote this:
In 1992, at the Oregon State University's botany department, Professor Elaine Ingham stepped into a potential biotech Chernobyl. One of her graduate students discovered that all the wheat plants they had been growing in jars had been turned to brown mush, a result of exposure to an engineered strain of Klebsiella planticola, a common soil bacteria. The engineered K planticola was designed to be a miracle product to decompose plant stubble and debris and to break down such for fertilizers, sludge and alcohol.
Professor Ingham saw the extreme danger presented if K planticola had escaped into the wild. (1) "That would have been the end of all terrestrial plants...it would have been dispersed any time a bird moved it to another field." she noted, even as the EPA had already approved K planticola as safe and ready for deployment. The monster germ was reluctantly shelved, Ingham and her graduate student were politically removed and the incident covered up.
Hydrogen fuel cells currently lack long term viability and require extremely scarce platinum. If hydrogen can be created (and distributed on a large scale) it might have a role in mitigating the end of the oil age.
whether built for bus rapid transit or light rail, can be used by vehicles
powered by a variety of fuels. The capacity of the proposed bicycle and
pedestrian facilities can accommodate substantial growth in nonmotorized
transportation demand. It is likely that the proposed CRC
infrastructure could readily accommodate or adapt to the transition to
substitute fuel vehicles, higher than projected growth in non-motorized
modes, and higher growth in transit demand.
There is substantial uncertainty regarding the timing of peak oil, the
future availability of substitute fuels and technology, and the effects of
peak oil on transportation. It is reasonable, however, to conclude that the
CRC project can be relatively prepared, at the project level, to address
reasonably foreseeable impacts associated with peak oil, and to reduce
the project’s incremental adverse impact.
rebuttal: If the CRC DEIS cannot even acknowledge the substantial increases in oil prices during the preparation of this document, then claims that the project will be able to address Peak Oil are ludicrous beyond language.
Outside the purview of CRC, numerous other measures will influence the
timing and impact of peak oil at the global and local scale. These other
actions include national and international energy policies, international
relations, fuel and transportation taxes and fees, alternative fuel and
technology research and development, agricultural policy and practices,
local land use regulations, and other measures.
4. Affected Environment
Because the supply and distribution of petroleum (Washington’s and Oregon’s primary
energy source in general, and especially for the transportation sector) is regulated and
distributed at the national and state levels, the affected environment is broadly inclusive
of the U.S., Washington, and Oregon. This section provides a brief and general
• The existing use and demand for energy resources in the nation and region.
• The present energy use for transportation.
• The available and forecasted supply of energy.
Because gasoline and diesel are the primary energy sources for the transportation sector,
this discussion provides general information on several energy sources, but focuses on
the supply and demand of energy derived from petroleum-based fuel sources. Unless
specifically defined otherwise, energy use refers to energy originating from crude oil
products since energy derived from these sources generally account for over 95 percent
of the total energy demand for the transportation sector.
4.2 National Energy Supply and Demand
The USDOE prepares annual energy outlook reports with projections into the future
(USDOE 2007a). The Annual Energy Outlook analyzes trends in energy supply and
demand worldwide with linkages to projected performance of the U.S. economy and
future public policy decisions. The most recent report analyzes historical energy use
beginning in 1980 and provides supply and demand forecasts to 2030 (USDOE 2007a).
Energy supply forecasts are largely based on international oil markets, and national
energy demand projections are organized by delivered energy sources and use sectors.
4.2.1 National Energy Supply
The national supply of petroleum largely depends on international factors. The majority
of oil suppliers are currently at or near production capacity, with the exception of OPEC,
who is the largest contributor to the international supply of petroleum. Since its inception
in 1960, OPEC has historically had a substantial role in the international and U.S.
petroleum supply. In general, when the world oil price is low (price often tracks supply),
OPEC curtails supply, and when the price is high, OPEC increases production.
In 2030, 66 percent of the U.S. petroleum supply is expected to be imported from
international oil markets including OPEC members and other countries in the Far East,
Caribbean, Europe and North America (other than the U.S.). Of this 66 percent, 37
percent is expected to originate from OPEC suppliers (USDOE 2007a).
Rebuttal: The US already gets about two-thirds of its oil supply from outside the US. Since most of the known oil in the US has already been extracted, it is obvious that by 2030 nearly all US oil consumption is likely to be bought (or stolen via military power) from other countries. The only way that the ratio of foreign oil could remain relatively constant past the global peak is to begin to use much less oil, but that would force a substantial reduction in travel demand, which in turn means that a 12 lane bridge across the Columbia River would not be needed.
Interstate 5 Columbia River Crossing
Energy Technical Report
4-2 May 2008
Historically, world oil prices have varied considerably and are expected to continue to
exhibit high fluctuations as a result of political instability, access restrictions, and a
reassessment of OPEC producers’ ability to influence prices during periods of volatility.
As a result, the 2030 national supply of petroleum could vary substantially depending on
world oil prices. Due to global political and economic uncertainties, the USDOE Annual
Energy Outlook world oil prices in 2030 were forecasted for three scenarios: “High
Price,” “Reference Price,” and “Low Price” with the cost of oil at 100, 59, and 36 dollars
per barrel, respectively (in 2005 dollars). In November 2006 the price of crude oil was
about 60 dollars per barrel. One year later it had risen to between 90 and 100 dollars per
barrel (2007 dollars). Depending on the world oil prices, the 2030 projections for
petroleum imports ranged from 13.4 million barrels per day for the High Price scenario,
17.7 million barrels per day for the Reference Price, and 20.8 million barrels per day for
the Low Price scenario.
Rebuttal: The 100 dollar a barrel price was reached four months before the publication of the DEIS, not in the year 2030. Therefore, the traffic analysis for the CRC needs to be redone to factor in geological and financial reality - the end of cheap oil is here (regardless of the precise timing of Peak Oil).
The following discussions on national and local energy supply
and demand are based on the Reference Price world oil prices.
4.2.2 National Energy Demand
The national demand for energy will depend on trends in population, economic activity,
energy prices (which are reliant on the factors affecting the national supply described
above), and the adoption and implementation of technology. In general, the energy
consumption per capita is expected to increase 0.3 percent annually through 2030
primarily as a result of strong economic growth (USDOE 2007a). However, the nation’s
economy is becoming less reliant on energy as a result of energy efficient technologies
and faster growth in less energy-intensive industries.
USDOE’s annual energy outlook organizes national energy demand forecasts in 2030 by delivered energy source (liquid fuels/petroleum, natural gas, coal, electricity and
renewables) and use sectors (residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation).
According to the USDOE, the delivered energy use from all sources is expected to
increase from 100.19 quadrillion Btu in 2005 to 131.16 quadrillion Btu in 2030, equating
to annual demand growth rate of 1.1 percent (USDOE 2007d). Energy from liquid fuels
and other petroleum products is expected to account for the greatest share of energy
demand (approximately 40 percent) with a growth rate of approximately 1 percent.
rebuttal: increase in petroleum based (and derived) liquid fuels are not going to be able to continue to increase on the Peak Oil downslope.
The energy demand from renewable sources is expected to have the highest growth rate (2.2 percent from biomass and 2.6 percent from other sources for a combined growth rate of 2.3 percent), but will continue to account for the smallest overall share of energy demand in 2030 (4.2 percent). Exhibit 4-1 summarizes the national demand for energy in 2005 by energy source with projections out to 2030.
Oil prices seep into asphalt costs, detour road work
Repair projects are a blow to budgets
By Judy Keen
CHICAGO — Fewer roads will be repaved this summer, thanks to soaring prices of oil-based asphalt.
Some states, cities and counties say their road-repair budgets didn't anticipate asphalt prices that are up 25.9% from a year ago, so they're being forced to delay projects.
"We will do what patching we can, but this will truly, truly be a devastating blow to the infrastructure," says Shirlee Leighton, a county commissioner in Lake County, S.D., where a 5-mile repaving project was postponed after bids came in $79,000-$162,000 higher than the $442,000 budget.
The mix used to resurface roads consists of gravel and sand held together with a binder called liquid asphalt, which is made from crude oil. As oil prices rise, so does the cost of asphalt, says Don Wessel of Poten & Partners, a consulting firm that publishes Asphalt Weekly Monitor. "Prices are the highest I've seen in many, many, many years," he says. "The concern is that they will go up considerably."
Increases in the cost of diesel fuel used to transport, heat and lay asphalt are adding to the sticker shock, too, creating headaches across the USA:
•Larimer County, Colo., would like to resurface 16-20 miles of its 450 miles of paved roads each year. "This year, we'll be lucky to do seven miles," says road and bridge director Dale Miller.
•Paul Degges, chief engineer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, will resurface 1,600 miles of state highway this year, well short of his 2,500-mile target. "Since my budget is not growing and costs are up, we're doing less paving," he says.
•A few paved roads in Hall County, Neb., will revert to gravel surfaces, says public works director Casey Sherlock. "At some point, they'll be potholed so bad we won't be able to keep patching them." He had hoped to resurface 6-7 miles of road this spring and could afford only 2 miles.
•In Washington County, Md., acting deputy public works director Robert Slocum is using alternative treatments requiring less asphalt. The result: More miles are being treated with less asphalt, but "ride quality" can be compromised.
•Snohomish County, Wash., pays 17% more for asphalt than a year ago, says county engineer Owen Carter. It's pooling funds with four cities to get a better price.
•The Grand Traverse County (Mich.) Road Commission plans to bid out 30 miles of resurfacing before a bond issue of up to $4 million is finalized to lock in prices before they go even higher, Road Commission manager Mary Gillis says.
Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors of America, says the asphalt-price squeeze exacerbates the USA's infrastructure problems and "may force Congress and the states to find more money for roads sooner than they would have otherwise."
Spy Roads: Civil Liberties vs. Transportation Surveillance
European Parliament – Luxembourg, 6 January 1998 – Directorate General for Research
Scientific and Technological Options Assessment – An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control
archived at http://www.cryptome.org/stoa-atpc.htm
Vehicle Recognition Systems
... A huge range of surveillance technologies has evolved, including the night vision goggles discussed in 3 above; parabolic microphones to detect conversations over a kilometre away (see Fig. 18); laser versions marketed by the German company PK Electronic, can pick up any conversation from a closed window in line of sight; the Danish Jai stroboscopic camera (Fig. 19) which can take hundreds of pictures in a matter of seconds and individually photograph all the participants in a demonstration or March; and the automatic vehicle recognition systems which can identify a car number plate then track the car around a city using a computerised geographic information system. (Fig.20) Such systems are now commercially available, for example, the Talon system introduced in 1994 by UK company Racal at a price of £2000 per unit. The system is trained to recognise number plates based on neural network technology developed by Cambridge Neurodynamics, and can see both night and day. Initially it has been used for traffic monitoring but its function has been adapted in recent years to cover security surveillance and has been incorporated in the "ring of steel" around London. The system can then record all the vehicles that entered or left the cordon on a particular day.
Such surveillance systems raise significant issues of accountability particularly when transferred to authoritarian regimes. The cameras ... in Tiananmen Square were sold as advanced traffic control systems by Siemens Plessey. Yet after the 1989 massacre of students, there followed a witch hunt when the authorities tortured and interrogated thousands in an effort to ferret out the subversives. The Scoot surveillance system with USA made Pelco camera were used to faithfully record the protests. the images were repeatedly broadcast over Chinese television offering a reward for information, with the result that nearly all the transgressors were identified. Again democratic accountability is only the criterion which distinguishes a modern traffic control system from an advanced dissident capture technology. Foreign companies are exporting traffic control systems to Lhasa in Tibet, yet Lhasa does not as yet have any traffic control problems. The problem here may be a culpable lack of imagination.
“that [surveillance] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such [is] the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology ...
“I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [NSA] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
-- Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho), 1975, quoted in James Bamford, “The Puzzle Palace”
“If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”
- George W. Bush, December 18, 2000
Maryland's highway surveillance systems
Cameras scan license plates for stolen cars
By Melissa Harris
Originally published April 3, 2006
As her marked car crawled through the parking lot, Detective Kelly Tibbs' new laptop beeped like a supermarket scanner. Two cameras, positioned like crab eyes on the cruiser's roof, snapped digital pictures of hundreds of license plates, and with each beep, the laptop checked the images against an FBI list of stolen cars.
Such cameras - called Mobile Plate Hunters - are replacing the laborious eyeball-and-keystroke method of checking for stolen cars, letting busy officers rely instead on an automated scan that takes less than a second.
Already in widespread use in London and Italy, automatic number plate recognition is a technology on the verge of exploding in the Baltimore-Washington area, fueled in places by funds from the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Howard and Anne Arundel counties deploy one each. Prince George's County and the District of Columbia have ordered more than a dozen of the cameras, which have been in use in Prince George's since August and the district since January.
Baltimore police are soliciting bids for a system that would work with the city's existing network of street surveillance cameras. And as early as this summer's vacation rush, Maryland Transportation Authority Police hope to add the cameras to the Bay Bridge as part of a pilot project with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Stationary cameras, such as those envisioned for Baltimore and the Bay Bridge, could alert nearby officers if an offending vehicle - one bearing a license plate registered to a wanted criminal, suspected terrorist or car thief - goes past.
"The uses are as limitless as your imagination," said Lt. John McKissick, director of Howard County's emergency preparedness division. "We're just in the infancy of this project, but already it saves us money and manpower."
Although proponents say the technology eventually will deny all but the most clever of criminals access to roads, privacy advocates warn that the plate hunters mark another step toward a society in which police can track a person's every move.
"Normally, your license plate number only becomes relevant when you're involved in an accident, pulled over by police or when your car is stolen," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "This technology changes that. ... It's a new form of surveillance."
The technology, which Tibbs demonstrated in the parking lot of Howard County police headquarters, was developed in Italy and used by the Italian postal service. Postcards would zip along a conveyer belt, the cameras would read them, and the computer would sort them.
"The engineers in Italy realized that if they could read Bulgarian postcards handwritten with pencil at high speeds, license plates would be a piece of cake," said Mark Windover, president of Remington-Elsag, a partnership between the U.S. gun manufacturer and the Italian postal-technology company, which sold a plate hunter to Howard County for $26,0000.
The plate hunters use infrared light to "read" as many as 900 license plates per minute zooming by at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour in the rain or dark, McKissick said.
Infrared light illuminates the plate, the camera snaps a picture and the computer converts it into digital characters - ABC 123, for example - using optical character recognition. Strapping two cameras to a roof allows the system to go through a mall parking lot, checking plates on both sides of the police car.
Each night, local police departments download FBI data to in-car laptops. When a scanned license plate matches one in the FBI database, the computer triggers an alarm, and the screen blinks red "alert" signs. Before officers can make an arrest, they must check the accuracy of the alert because the database lags a day behind, and the system does not distinguish among states.
"In one block in Washington, I recovered six sets of stolen tags and a stolen motorcycle using the reader," said state police Detective Sgt. George Jacobs, assistant commander of the Washington-area vehicle enforcement unit. "It's just amazing that there are areas out there like that. It's a great tool because manually, it would have taken me several hours to type in the tags."
Though the primary purpose of the technology is to recover stolen vehicles, Howard County and other jurisdictions plan to eventually use the cameras for surveillance.
McKissick said he envisions placing cameras around potential terrorist targets and linking them to neighboring counties' systems. For instance, if the same license plate passes emergency communications towers in Howard, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, the system could alert police in all three areas.
The technology also could be used to enforce laws or court orders that keep sexual predators away from schools or domestic abusers away from spouses.
Already, when Tibbs learns of an Amber Alert, she can enter the tag number manually into her laptop and search for the car. The system also is linked to the FBI's "violent gangs and terrorism organization file," though Howard County is not yet using it because the plate hunter is still new to the department, McKissick said.
"We want to be able to look at offenders with another set of eyes," said Chief Gary W. McLhinney of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, which is working to secure a pilot program for the technology at the Bay Bridge.
McKissick and other officers dismiss concerns that the cameras invade drivers' privacy. McKissick said the machine is "strictly a numbers game," enabling officers to do more of what they already do.
Jacobs said the system does not discriminate and that the computer does not list a tag owner's information unless it sounds an alert on the car. Without the computer, officers choose which license plates they check, lacking the time to manually enter every one they see.
"There can be no discrimination," Jacobs said, "because the machine picks and runs every tag it sees."
Copyright © 2006, The Baltimore Sun
Britain's auto Panopticon
Britain will be first country to monitor every car journey
From 2006 Britain will be the first country where every journey by every car will be monitored
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 22 December 2005
Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.
Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.
The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts.
By next March a central database installed alongside the Police National Computer in Hendon, north London, will store the details of 35 million number-plate "reads" per day. These will include time, date and precise location, with camera sites monitored by global positioning satellites.
Already there are plans to extend the database by increasing the storage period to five years and by linking thousands of additional cameras so that details of up to 100 million number plates can be fed each day into the central databank.
Senior police officers have described the surveillance network as possibly the biggest advance in the technology of crime detection and prevention since the introduction of DNA fingerprinting.
But others concerned about civil liberties will be worried that the movements of millions of law-abiding people will soon be routinely recorded and kept on a central computer database for years.
The new national data centre of vehicle movements will form the basis of a sophisticated surveillance tool that lies at the heart of an operation designed to drive criminals off the road.
In the process, the data centre will provide unrivalled opportunities to gather intelligence data on the movements and associations of organised gangs and terrorist suspects whenever they use cars, vans or motorcycles.
The scheme is being orchestrated by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and has the full backing of ministers who have sanctioned the spending of £24m this year on equipment.
More than 50 local authorities have signed agreements to allow the police to convert thousands of existing traffic cameras so they can read number plates automatically. The data will then be transmitted to Hendon via a secure police communications network.
Chief constables are also on the verge of brokering agreements with the Highways Agency, supermarkets and petrol station owners to incorporate their own CCTV cameras into the network. In addition to cross-checking each number plate against stolen and suspect vehicles held on the Police National Computer, the national data centre will also check whether each vehicle is lawfully licensed, insured and has a valid MoT test certificate.
"Every time you make a car journey already, you'll be on CCTV somewhere. The difference is that, in future, the car's index plates will be read as well," said Frank Whiteley, Chief Constable of Hertfordshire and chairman of the Acpo steering committee on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).
"What the data centre should be able to tell you is where a vehicle was in the past and where it is now, whether it was or wasn't at a particular location, and the routes taken to and from those crime scenes. Particularly important are associated vehicles," Mr Whiteley said.
The term "associated vehicles" means analysing convoys of cars, vans or trucks to see who is driving alongside a vehicle that is already known to be of interest to the police. Criminals, for instance, will drive somewhere in a lawful vehicle, steal a car and then drive back in convoy to commit further crimes "You're not necessarily interested in the stolen vehicle. You're interested in what's moving with the stolen vehicle," Mr Whiteley explained.
According to a strategy document drawn up by Acpo, the national data centre in Hendon will be at the heart of a surveillance operation that should deny criminals the use of the roads.
"The intention is to create a comprehensive ANPR camera and reader infrastructure across the country to stop displacement of crime from area to area and to allow a comprehensive picture of vehicle movements to be captured," the Acpo strategy says.
"This development forms the basis of a 24/7 vehicle movement database that will revolutionise arrest, intelligence and crime investigation opportunities on a national basis," it says.
Mr Whiteley said MI5 will also use the database. "Clearly there are values for this in counter-terrorism," he said.
"The security services will use it for purposes that I frankly don't have access to. It's part of public protection. If the security services did not have access to this, we'd be negligent."
DECLAN MCCULLAGH, CNET, December 5, 2005
Trust federal bureaucrats to take a good idea and transform it into a frightening proposal to track Americans wherever they drive.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has been handing millions of dollars to state governments for GPS-tracking pilot projects designed to track vehicles wherever they go. So far, Washington state and Oregon have received fat federal checks to figure out how to levy these "mileage-based road user fees."
Now electronic tracking and taxing may be coming to a DMV near you. The Office of Transportation Policy Studies, part of the Federal Highway Administration, is about to announce another round of grants totaling some $11 million. A spokeswoman on Friday said the office is "shooting for the end of the year" for the announcement, and more money is expected for GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking efforts.
In principle, the idea of what bureaucrats like to call "value pricing" for cars makes sound economic sense.
No policy bans police from automatically sending out speeding tickets based on what the GPS data say.
Airlines and hotels have long charged less for off-peak use. Toll roads would be more efficient--in particular, less congested--if they could follow the same model and charge virtually nothing in the middle of the night but high prices during rush hour.
That price structure would encourage drivers to take public transportation, use alternate routes, or leave earlier or later in the day.
The problem, though, is that these "road user fee" systems are being designed and built in a way that strips drivers of their privacy and invites constant surveillance by police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
Zero privacy protections
Details of the tracking systems vary. But the general idea is that a small GPS device, which knows its location by receiving satellite signals, is placed inside the vehicle.
Some GPS trackers constantly communicate their location back to the state DMV, while others record the location information for later retrieval. (In the Oregon pilot project, it's beamed out wirelessly when the driver pulls into a gas station.)
The problem, though, is that no privacy protections exist. No restrictions prevent police from continually monitoring, without a court order, the whereabouts of every vehicle on the road.
No rule prohibits that massive database of GPS trails from being subpoenaed by curious divorce attorneys, or handed to insurance companies that might raise rates for someone who spent too much time at a neighborhood bar. No policy bans police from automatically sending out speeding tickets based on what the GPS data say.
The Fourth Amendment provides no protection. The U.S. Supreme Court said in two cases, U.S. v. Knotts and U.S. v. Karo, that Americans have no reasonable expectation of privacy when they're driving on a public street.
The PR offensive
Even more shocking are additional ideas that bureaucrats are hatching. A report prepared by a Transportation Department-funded program in Washington state says the GPS bugs must be made "tamper proof" and the vehicle should be disabled if the bugs are disconnected.
"This can be achieved by building in connections to the vehicle ignition circuit so that failure to receive a moving GPS signal after some default period of vehicle operation indicates attempts to defeat the GPS antenna," the report says.
It doesn't mention the worrisome scenario of someone driving a vehicle with a broken GPS bug--and an engine that suddenly quits half an hour later. But it does outline a public relations strategy (with "press releases and/or editorials" at a "very early stage") to persuade the American public that this kind of contraption would be, contrary to common sense, in their best interest.
One study prepared for the Transportation Department predicts a PR success. "Less than 7 percent of the respondents expressed concerns about recording their vehicle's movements," it says.
That whiff of victory, coupled with a windfall of new GPS-enabled tax dollars, has emboldened DMV bureaucrats. A proposal from the Oregon DMV, also funded by the Transportation Department, says that such a tracking system should be mandatory for all "newly purchased vehicles and newly registered vehicles."
The sad reality is that there are ways to perform "value pricing" for roads while preserving anonymity. You could pay cash for prepaid travel cards, like store gift cards, that would be debited when read by roadside sensors. Computer scientists have long known how to create electronic wallets--using a technique called blind signatures--that can be debited without privacy concerns.
The Transportation Department could require privacy-protective features when handing out grants for pilot projects that may eventually become mandatory. It's now even more important because a new U.S. law ups the size of the grants; the U.K. is planning GPS tracking and per-mile fees ranging between 3 cents and $2.
We'll see. But given the privacy hostility that the Transportation Department and state DMVs have demonstrated so far, don't be too optimistic.
BIG BROTHER COMING UNDER YOUR CAR HOOD
JEFF GRAY, GLOVE AND MAIL, CA- It's the last thing many motorists would want -- a permanent, electronic back-seat driver, forcefully reminding them not to speed. But Transport Canada is road-testing cutting-edge devices that use global positioning satellite technology and a digital speed-limit map to know when a driver is speeding, and to try to make them stop. When a driver hits a certain percentage above the posted speed limit, the device kicks in and makes it difficult to press the accelerator. While the idea appeals to some road-safety experts, even the researcher in charge of the project admits many drivers -- some of whom have shown fierce resistance to photo-radar and red-light cameras -- may balk at the science-fiction scenario of a machine forcing them to apply the brakes. . . In Europe, proponents have said that the technology should be mandatory in all vehicles or that insurance companies might offer discounts to drivers who use it.
BOSTON HERALD - Over the coming year, the T will install automated fare collection equipment at every subway station and on every bus, allowing riders to pay easily with taps of special smart cards in their names. But each transaction with the plastic Charlie Cards will be recorded electronically, creating a record of where users were at a particular time on a particular day. Those records could be subpoenaed by cops, courts or even lawyers in civil cases. "The bottom line is that like other developments with consumer products and technology, the convenience does have a flip side. It’s convenience versus having the government be able to track you," said privacy expert Eric Gertler. . .
The new automated fare system will record where a passenger boards the system and at what time. The system won't capture any data on the rider’s destination. The information will be archived for a year and a half to two years before it’s erased. . .
The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has for years recorded where and when users of the Fas tLane electronic transponders get on and off the toll highway. Unlike the MBTA, the Turnpike’s privacy protections barring outside release of the data without a subpoena are written into state law. "On a fairly regular basis we receive subpoena requests both civil and criminal," Pike spokesman Tom Farmer said.
Satellite toll plan to make drivers pay by the mile
Darling orders nationwide road pricing. Charge of £1.34 a mile on busiest roads
By Francis Elliott, Deputy Political Editor
05 June 2005
British motorists face paying a new charge for every mile they drive in a revolutionary scheme to be introduced within two years.
Drivers will pay according to when and how far they travel throughout the country's road network under proposals being developed by the Government.
Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Transport, revealed that pilot areas will be selected in just 24 months' time as he made clear his determination to press ahead with a national road pricing scheme.
Each of Britain's 24 million vehicles would be tracked by satellite if a variable "pay-as-you-drive" charge replaces the current road tax.
In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Mr Darling warned that unless action is taken now, the country "could face gridlock" within two decades.
Official research suggests national road pricing could increase the capacity of Britain's network by as much as 40 per cent at a stroke, he said.
The rapid uptake of satellite navigational technology in cars is helping to usher in the new "pay-as-you-drive" charge much sooner than had been expected. Figures contained in a government feasibility study have suggested motorists could pay up to £1.34 for each mile they travel during peak hours on the most congested roads.
Although a fully operational national scheme is still considered to be a decade away, Mr Darling said local schemes could be up and running within five years. Manchester is considered a front-runner, with local authorities in the Midlands and London also pressing to be considered for a £2.5bn central fund to introduce the change.
Most of the necessary technology already exists. Lorries will be tracked by satellite and charged accordingly from 2007. The main obstacle to constructing a scheme to track Britain's 24 million private vehicles is public opinion, and Mr Darling is determined to start making the case now.
"You could dance around this for years but every year the problem is getting worse," he said.
"We have got to do everything we can during the course of this Parliament to decide whether or not we go with road pricing. Something of this magnitude will span several parliaments and you need 'buy-in' not just from political parties but also from the general public.
"Drivers have got to see that they benefit," he said, adding that one of the "weaknesses" of the congestion charging scheme introduced in the capital by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, was that it delivered a "general benefit not a particular benefit". Motorists could feel they are paying a penalty to support buses they do not use.
The national road-pricing scheme, by contrast, has got to work so there's "something in it for me", said Mr Darling in advance of a keynote speech on the issue this Thursday.
Despite his insistence that the scheme would lead to no overall increase in the level of taxation as road taxes and fuel duties are reduced or abolished, it is bound to prompt fresh claims that Labour is waging a "war on motorists".
Some campaigners, meanwhile, are pressing Mr Darling to introduce new levies on individual roads immediately, using existing microwave technology or tolls. But that would force traffic on to quieter roads while entrenching opposition to a national scheme, ministers believe.
However, new and expanded roads are likely to see innovations such as car-sharing lanes, available to single drivers only if they pay a premium.
Geoslavery: GPS and technological tyranny
March 5, 2003
KU researcher warns against potential threat of 'geoslavery'
LAWRENCE -- Jerome Dobson wants to make sure his field of research doesn't aid the greatest threat to personal freedom.
As a pioneer of geographic information systems (GIS), Dobson, a researcher at the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing Program at the University of Kansas, helped develop the technology that now is commonplace in government, business and practically every aspect of modern life.
Since 1975, Dobson has used GIS for a number of applications -- from conducting environmental analyses to identifying populations at risk of terrorism and natural disasters -- by combining data sets such as detailed population counts of every country in the world, terrain and nighttime lights interpreted from satellite images, road networks and elevations. Dobson, who is a professor of geography at KU, also is president of the American Geographical Society.
Unfortunately, the same technology that has so many beneficial uses also has the potential to create a highly sophisticated form of slavery, or "geoslavery," as Dobson calls it. What worries Dobson is that GIS technology easily could be used not only to spy on people but to control them as well.
"It concerns me that something I thought was wonderful has a downside that may lead to geoslavery -- the greatest threat to freedom we've ever experienced in human history," he said.
By combining GIS technology with a global positioning system (GPS) and a radio transmitter and receiver, someone easily can monitor your movements with or without your knowledge. Add to that a transponder -- either implanted into a person or in the form of a bracelet -- that sends an electric shock any time you step out of line, and that person actually can control your movements from a distance.
Sound like something from a bad sci-fi movie? Actually, several products currently on the market make this scenario possible.
"In many ways that's what we're doing with prisoners right now, but they've been through a legal process," he said.
In fact, many of the existing products are marketed to parents as a way to protect their children from kidnappers. Dobson, however, said parents should think twice before using such products.
"A lot of people think this is a way to protect their children," he said. "But most kidnappers won't have any compunction about cutting the child to remove an implant or bracelet."
Furthermore, these products rely on wireless networks, which are notoriously easy for hackers to break into, potentially turning the very products meant to protect children into fodder for tech-savvy child predators.
Dobson outlined the dangers of geoslavery in an article that appears in the most recent issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Technology and Society magazine. Peter F. Fisher, editor of the International Journal of Geographic Information Science, co-wrote the paper with Dobson. More than 375,000 scientists read the IEEE magazine.
One of the greatest dangers of geoslavery is that it doesn't apply just to governments. For example, individuals could use the technology to perpetuate various forms of slavery, from child laborers to sex slaves to a simple case of someone controlling the whereabouts of his or her spouse, Dobson said.
"Many people have concerns today about privacy but they haven't put all the pieces together and realized this means someone can actually control them -- not just know about them, but control them," Dobson said.
As the price of these products gets cheaper and cheaper, the likelihood rises that the technology will be abused, he said. To prevent this, Dobson's paper outlines a number of actions that should be taken, including revising national and international laws on incarceration, slavery, stalking and branding, and developing encryption systems that prevent criminals or countries with bad human rights records from accessing GPS signals.
Still, the first step is making people aware of the very real threat that geoslavery poses. The potential for harm is even greater in less developed nations without strong traditions of personal freedom, he said.
"We need a national dialogue on this if we're going to go into something so different from our traditional values of privacy and freedom," Dobson said. "We need to think about it very carefully and decide if this is a direction we as a society want to go."
Dobson said he doesn't consider himself a crusader. Instead, he is a scientist who is working diligently to ensure that people really understand the good and bad sides of the technology he helped create.
"There certainly are many, many good uses for the technology -- that's not the issue -- the issue is that it can be so easily misused," he said. "My role as a university professor is to alert people and make sure there is an informed debate."
CNN reports on Jerome Dobson's concerns that GPS technology may be hazardous to personal liberties. Dobson is president of the American Geographical Society. "Geoslavery" is a good word for describing one of the biggest downsides to smartmob technology.
NEWS COVER 09.29.04
Big Brother In Your Car
Futuristic hi-tech could save your life -- and raid your privacy
BY TARA SERVATIUS
Deep inside the United States Department of Transportation, Big Brother is rearing his head. On the third floor of the USDOT building in the heart of Washington, DC, a shadowy government agency that doesn't respond to public inquiries about its activities is coordinating a plan to use monitoring devices to catalogue the movements of every American driver.
Most people have probably never heard of the agency, called the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office. And they haven't heard of its plans to add another dimension to our national road system, one that uses tracking and sensor technology to erase the lines between cars, the road and the government transportation management centers from which every aspect of transportation will be observed and managed.
For 13 years, a powerful group of car manufacturers, technology companies and government interests has fought to bring this system to life. They envision a future in which massive databases will track the comings and goings of everyone who travels by car or mass transit. The only way for people to evade the national transportation tracking system they're creating will be to travel on foot. Drive your car, and your every movement could be recorded and archived. The federal government will know the exact route you drove to work, how many times you braked along the way, the precise moment you arrived -- and that every other Tuesday you opt to ride the bus.
They'll know you're due for a transmission repair and that you've neglected to fix the ever-widening crack that resulted from a pebble dinging your windshield.
Once the system is brought to life, both the corporations and the government stand to reap billions in revenues. Companies plan to use the technology to sell endless user services and upgrades to drivers. For governments, tracking cars' movements means the ability to tax drivers for their driving habits, and ultimately to use a punitive tax system to control where they drive and when, a practice USDOT documents predict will be common throughout the country by 2022.
This system the government and its corporate partners are striving to create goes by many names, including the information superhighway and the Integrated Network of Transportation information, or INTI. Reams of federal documents spell out the details of how it will operate.
Despite this, it remains one of the federal government's best-kept secrets. Virtually nothing has been reported about it in the media. None of the experts at the privacy rights groups Creative Loafing talked to, including the ACLU, the Consumers Union and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, had ever heard of the INTI. Nor had they heard of the voluminous federal documents that spell out, in eerie futuristic tones, what data the system will collect and how it will impact drivers' daily lives.
Buried inside two key federal documents lies a chilling cookbook for a Big Brother-style transportation-monitoring system. None of the privacy experts we talked to was aware of a 2002 USDOT document called the "National Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Plan: A Ten-Year Vision" or the "National ITS Architecture ITS Vision Statement," published by the Federal Highway Administration in 2003.
What's more, no one we talked to was aware of just how far the USDOT has come in developing the base technology necessary to bring the system to life.
More than $4 billion in federal tax dollars has already been spent to lay the foundation for this system. Some of the technologies it will use to track our movements are already familiar to the public, like the GPS technology OnStar already used to pinpoint the location of its subscribers. Others are currently being developed by the USDOT and its sub-agencies.
Five technology companies hired by the USDOT to develop the transceivers, or "on-board units," that will transmit data from your car to the system are expected to unveil the first models next spring. By 2010, automakers hope to start installing them in cars. The goal is to equip 57 million vehicles by 2015.
Once the devices are installed, the technology will allow cars to talk to each other in real time, transmitting information about weather, dangerous road conditions ahead and even warning drivers instantaneously of an impending collision. When used in combination with GPS technology already being installed in millions of cars, the INTI will be able to transmit real-time information about where your car is and where you've been.
Though Joint Project Office officials refused to talk to Creative Loafing about the next step in their plan, one official defined it simply in a presentation before the National Research Council in January.
"The concept," said Bill Jones, Technical Director of the Joint Office, "is that vehicle manufacturers will install a communications device on the vehicle starting at some future date, and equipment will be installed on the nation's transportation system to allow all vehicles to communicate with the infrastructure."
"The whole idea here is that we would capture data from a large number of vehicles," Jones said at another meeting of transportation officials in May. "That data could then be used by public jurisdictions for traffic management purposes and also by private industry, such as DaimlerChrysler, for the services that they wish to provide for their customers."
According to USDOT's 10-year plan, the key "data" the INTI will collect is "the identity and performance of transportation system users."
"It's going to happen," said Jean-Claude Thill, a professor at the University of Buffalo who specializes in transportation and geographic information and who has done research for USDOT. "It's probably going to start in the large metropolitan areas where there's a much larger concentration and more demand for the services that are going to be made available."
With this system, and the fantastic technology it will enable, the government and the auto industry claim they can wipe out all but a fraction of the 42,000 deaths on America's roads by literally intervening between the drivers, cars and the road. But as they careen toward making it a reality, its costs in terms of individual privacy have barely been contemplated.
If the government has its way, these technologies will no longer be optional. They'll be buried deep inside our cars at the auto factory, unremovable by law. If things go as planned, within the next decade these devices will begin transmitting information about us to the government, regardless of whether we want to share it or not.
More chilling still is the fact that Creative Loafing isn't the first to use the "Big Brother" label to describe the system. Even the corporate leaders working to create it refer to it in Orwellian terms. At a workshop for industry and government leaders last year, John Worthington, the President and CEO of TransCore -- one of the companies currently under contract to develop the on-board units USDOT wants to put in your car -- described INTI as "kind of an Orwellian all-singing, all-dancing collector/aggregator/disseminator of transportation information."
This story really begins in 1991, the year Congress established a program to develop and deploy what is now called "Intelligent Transportation Systems," or ITS. At the time, most ITS technology was in its infancy. But even back then, the long-term goal of the federal government and the automobile industry was to develop and deploy a nationwide traffic monitoring system. A transportation technology industry quickly sprang to life over the next decade, feeding off federal money and the corporate demand for wireless technology.
Since 1991, the driving force behind the INTI has been the Washington, DC-based Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA). This powerful group of government and corporate interests has spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying to bring the INTI to life and worked side by side with USDOT and its agencies to create it.
A look at its shockingly broad 500-organization membership base shows just how much clout is behind the push to create the information superhighway. Forty-three of the 50 state Departments of Transportation are members, including the North Carolina DOT. Dozens of transportation departments from large and medium-sized cities, including the Charlotte Area Transit System, are also members. So are most of the key corporate players in the transportation technology industry and America's big three auto manufacturers.
Though the membership of the Board of Directors changes every year with companies cycling on and off, over the last two years, ITSA's board members have included executives from General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Company, and executives from the technology companies helping to develop the on-board units, including TransCore and Mark IV Industries. The board has also included federal transportation bureaucrats like Jeff Paniati, the Joint Program Office director. ITSA president and CEO Neil Schuster says the bulk of the group's $6 million annual budget comes from its corporate members, money that ITSA then turns around and uses to lobby Congress and the federal government for further development of the INTI.
So why haven't you heard about ITSA or the INTI? Until recently, most of the groundwork necessary to lay the foundation for the system has been highly technical and decidedly unsexy. That's because before industry leaders and government officials could hold the first transceiver in their hands or bury it inside the first automobile, they had to create a uniform language for the system and convince the Federal Communications Commission to set aside enough bandwidth to contain the massive amount of data a constant conversation between cars, the road and the system would produce.
A half-decade later, with the computer standards 90 percent complete and the bandwidth set aside by the FCC, they're on the brink of a transportation revolution.
To most drivers, the above probably sounds pretty far-fetched. National databases to track our every move? A national network of government-controlled traffic management centers that use wireless technology for traffic surveillance by 2022? But the reality is that much of the technology and infrastructure needed to bring the system to life has already been put in place.
In the old days, if you turned on your windshield wipers, power just went to the wipers. But in the cars of today, a miniature self-contained computer system of sensors and actuators controls the wipers and just about everything else the car does. All that information winds up on something inside your car called a data bus.
"We have the ability to communicate essentially any of the vehicle information that's on that data bus, typically encompassing the state of about 200 sensors and actuators," said Dave Acton, an ITS consultant to General Motors. "Anything that's available on the bus is just content to the system, so you could send anything."
For automakers and tech companies, the databus is a goldmine of information that can be transmitted via imbedded cell phone or GPS technology. This year alone, 2 million cars in General Motors' fleet were equipped with the GPS technology that would enable customers to subscribe to OnStar-type services if they choose. Eventually, says Acton, all cars will likely be equipped with it.
But the same technology installed in GM's fleet is also capable of transmitting the car's location and speed to any government agency or corporate entity that wants it without the driver knowing, whether they subscribe to OnStar-type services or not.
Though government-run transportation centers across the country are not yet collecting the data, Acton predicts they will begin to within the next decade.
Ann Lorscheider agrees. She's the manager of the Metrolina Region Transportation Management center on Tipton Drive in Charlotte.
At the center off Statesville Avenue, traffic management specialists stare at dozens of television screens mounted on a massive wall, watching for accidents or anything out of the ordinary. From their workstations, they surveil 200 interstate miles, including I-77 from the South Carolina state line to US 901 in Iredell and I-85 from the state line into Cabarrus County.
When they need to, they can swivel the cameras mounted along the interstate or zoom in to get a better look at an accident. Sensors in the road constantly dump data back to the center on traffic patterns and speed. A system based on predictive algorithms tells them if a traffic pattern signals a potential problem.
The cameras and the sensors were installed by the state in 2000, at a cost of $41 million. Traffic management centers like the one Lorscheider runs can now be found in just about every major to mid-sized city or region across the country, most constructed in over the last decade or so.
News reports show that over the last five years alone, there has been an explosion in the construction of these centers. During that time, over 100 such centers have opened across the country, part of a boom driven by the USDOT and its sub-agency, the Federal Highway Administration, which has secured funding to help bring the centers to life.
"They're booming," said Lorscheider. "They're all over the place now."
Everywhere they've opened, the centers have decreased response time to accidents and slashed, sometimes by as much as half, the number of law enforcement personnel needed to respond to accidents and get traffic moving again. Congestion and travel times have also improved.
This all sounds fine and safety-centered. But in the future envisioned by USDOT and ITSA in federal documents, the centers will be far more than a handy congestion management tool. They'll form the very hub of the INTI itself, interacting with regional and national traffic centers and, ultimately, with immense national databases run in partnership with the private sector that will cull data from vehicles, crunch and archive it.
To bring the INTI to life the way the government plans, the system will have to do far more than use GPS technology to transmit where cars have been and what they did along the way. Cars will need to swap information instantaneously with each other and with roadside readers at highway speeds in real time, something today's GPS technology can't do. To solve the problem, the federal government is pushing back the boundaries of wireless technology to create devices that can make the vision possible. Using something called Dedicated Short Range Communications, or DSRC, the transceivers the government is developing would allow cars to carry on simultaneous conversations with each other and with corresponding roadside units, sending messages or warnings throughout the transportation management system instantly.
These "conversations" could prevent collisions or stop drivers from running off the road, while giving transportation managers an instantaneous view of road and weather conditions. With a DSRC transceiver and GPS technology in every car, automakers believe they can wipe out nearly all automobile fatalities in the US. It's a goal they call the Zero Fatalities Vision.
"There is a basic consensus that we have to change the safety paradigm," said Chris Wilson, Vice President of ITS Strategy and Programs at DaimlerChrysler Research and Technology North America, Inc. "Everything we've done up until now -- airbags, seatbelts -- was to mitigate accidents once they occur. Now we're looking to prevent accidents. To do that we need live vehicle-to-vehicle communication and vehicle-to-vehicle infrastructure."
The tantalizing prospect of saving thousands of lives comes with a heavy price. The same technology that will allow cars to talk to each other in real time would also allow the government and ultimately private business to use the INTI to track every move American drivers make -- and profit from it.
This is the dark side of the information superhighway, the one executives and federal bureaucrats don't like to talk about. That's probably because they know it's entirely possible to use the technology the government is developing to prevent fatal collisions without harvesting information from automobiles and archiving it.
For all their talk about saving lives, there's ample evidence that the driving force behind the push to develop the national information superhighway is to profit from the data it collects. Both the corporations and the government -- including the more than 40 state departments of transportation that are members of ITSA -- stand to eventually rake in billions in revenues if they can bring the system to life. (See sidebar, "A Marketer's Dream.")
But first, they must find a way to harvest and archive the data.
That's where the ADUS, or Archived Data User Service, project comes in. For the last five years, while they were laying the foundation for the INTI, USDOT and ITSA have also begun setting standards for the massive databases that will collect and archive information.
According to federal documents, when it's completed, the brain of the INTI will essentially be a string of interconnected regional and national databases, swapping, processing and storing data on our travels it will collect from devices in our cars.
According to the "ITS Vision Statement" the Federal Highway Administration published in 2003, by 2022, each private "travel customer" will have their own "user profile" on the system that includes regular travel destinations, their route preferences, and any pay-for-service subscriptions they use.
Neil Schuster, president and CEO of ITSA, further clarified that goal in a recent interview with Creative Loafing.
"In fact, when we talk about this, the US government is talking about creating a national database, because where cars are has to go into a database," Schuster said.
Most INTI enthusiasts, like Schuster, insist that the lives potentially saved by this technology are worth giving up some privacy.
"When I get on an airplane everyone in the system knows where I am," said Schuster. "They know which tickets I bought. You could probably go back through United Airlines and find out everywhere I traveled in the last year. Do I worry about that? No. We've decided that airline safety is so important that we're going to put a transponder in every airplane and track it. We know the passenger list of every airplane and we're tracking these things so that planes don't crash into each other. Shouldn't we have that same sense of concern and urgency about road travel? The average number of fatalities each year from airplanes is less than 100. The average number of deaths on the highway is 42,000. I think we've got to enter the debate as to whether we're willing to change that in a substantial way and it may be that we have to allow something on our vehicles that makes our car safer. . . I wouldn't mind some of this information being available to make my roads safer so some idiot out there doesn't run into me."
Schuster insists that drivers shouldn't worry about the government storing information about their travels because personal identifying information would be stripped from it.
"They're not going to archive all of the data, they're going to archive the data they need," Schuster said. "They want origin, they want destination, they want what route that vehicle took. They don't want the personal information that goes with that because it's useless to them."
Schuster's words would be more reassuring if they didn't contradict planning documents authored by his organization and USDOT.
ITSA's own website on ADUS says data archived by INTI databases will include "vehicle and passenger data." So does the USDOT's Ten-Year-Plan. In fact, according to ITSA's own privacy principles, which are printed on its website, transportation systems will collect personal information, but only that information that's relevant for "intelligent transportation system" purposes.
"ITS, respectful of the individual's interest in privacy, will only collect information that contains individual identifiers that are needed for the ITS service functions," the site reads. "Furthermore, ITS information systems will include protocols that call for the purging of individual identifier information that is no longer needed to meet ITS needs."
In other words, identifying information will be purged when government and corporate users no longer have a need for it, not when it becomes a privacy issue for an individual driver.
Everyone Creative Loafing spoke to for this article, and every federal document we examined, insisted that safeguards would be put in place to protect this data. So far, though, no one has been able to specify exactly how these safeguards will work.
It's a problem Eric Skrum, Communications Director for the National Motorists Association, is familiar with.
"Information on this is awfully hard to get and it's also very conflicting, where one hand will be telling you one thing and the other will be saying oh no, we wouldn't possibly be doing that," Skrum said.
It's a problem Creative Loafing ran into as well. For instance, Schuster insists that the data the system will eventually collect won't be used to issue people speeding tickets or other traffic citations.
But according to ITSA's own privacy principles, the information won't be shared with law enforcement -- until states pass laws allowing it. In fact, the US Department of Justice and USDOT are already working on a plan to share the data ITS systems collect with law enforcement. It's called the USDOT/DOJ Joint Initiative For Intelligent Transportation & Public Safety Systems, and its aim is to coordinate the integration of the system with police and law enforcement systems by developing the software and technical language that will allow them to communicate.
After Sept. 11, ITSA and USDOT added a homeland security addendum to their 10-year plan. The system, through wireless surveillance and automated tracking of the users of our transportation system, could bolster Homeland Security efforts, it said.
Sensors deployed in vehicles and the infrastructure could "identify suspicious vehicles," "detect disruptions" and "detect threatening behavior" by drivers, according to the addendum. Those who take public transit wouldn't escape monitoring, either. The addendum suggests "developing systems for public transit tracking to monitor passenger behavior."
So who will control the information transmitted by the on-board units? That's still up in the air, too. Like the black boxes now installed in cars that record data before a crash that can later be used against the driver, it's possible that the on-board units will be installed in new cars before the legal issues surrounding the data they collect are fully resolved, says one industry insider.
Robert Kelly, a wireless communications legal expert who has acted as legal council to ITSA, says privacy law will have to evolve with the technology. In other words, privacy issues probably won't be resolved until the technology is already in place. Legislatures and Congress will have to guide how everyone from law enforcement to corporations use the data and exactly what information they have access to, Kelly said.
But again, with privacy organizations largely in the dark and the development of the system hurtling forward, the question is how much influence, if any, privacy advocates will be able to wield before these devices are installed on the first future fleet of cars.
That's part of what frustrates Skrum, the National Motorists Association communications director. "Because this is being done behind closed doors to a certain extent, the public isn't really going to have much to say about it," said Skrum.
The good news is that there's still time for the public to weigh in. It will take USDOT at least three more years of development and consumer testing before the first prototype "on-board unit" is ready. In the meantime, the federal government, automakers and the state departments of transportation will have to hash out a couple of billion-dollar details. So far, the government has borne nearly all the cost of developing the on-board units. But that will soon change. For the system to work, automakers must sign on to mass produce the on-board units and install them in cars, a move that will cost billions.
At the same time, the government must install the roadside readers to transmit the messages cars send, or the on-board units will be useless. So to bring the system to life, the government must spend millions, if not billions, on roadside units to communicate with cars at roughly the same time automakers begin installing the on-board units.
As Japan, Europe and foreign carmakers dash to develop similar technology, US automakers are under tremendous pressure. This is creating something of a chicken and egg situation. Given the nature of federal and state transportation budgets, the rollout of roadside units is likely to be gradual, starting at select trouble spots across the nation. But automakers say they need a mass deployment to make their effort worthwhile. They want to see a rollout of at least 400,000 roadside readers over about a three-year period.
A decision is currently slated for 2008, when automakers and the USDOT plan to come together to hash out a deployment strategy. At stake will be billions of dollars -- both in investments and profits. If the government and automakers can agree on a deployment plan, technology companies are expected to begin investing more heavily in the further development of programs the technology will enable.
ITSA projects that $209 billion could be invested in intelligent transportation technology between now and the year 2011 -- with 80 percent of that investment coming from the private sector in the form of consumer products and services.
Jean-Claude Thill, a professor at the University of Buffalo who specializes in transportation and geographic information systems, says he believes the system will be deployed, just not as fast as car makers would like.
"It's not going to happen all at once," said Thill. "Look at cell phones. Right now in large urban areas you have a high density of cell towers so you have good coverage. If you venture on the interstate your signal gets weak and sometimes you lose it. You can't expect this to be different."
Thill says he believes the automobile manufacturers are playing hardball with the government to make sure the infrastructure is put in place quickly.
"I think the automobile manufacturers will do it," said Thill. "There is money in it. I think as the market develops in large urban areas, they will see that it is in their interest to get on the wagon. But nothing is going to happen until they are on board."
From the government's perspective, the good news is that a few sensors in a few cars and a little GPS technology can go a long way.
"Only a relatively small percentage of the approximately 260 million vehicles on US roads today need to be equipped with communication devices for the system to start producing useful data," said Bill Jones, the Technical Director of the USDOT's ITS Joint Project Office in a speech to the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board in January. "With 14 to 15 million new vehicles sold in the US each year, within two years you can have 10 percent of all vehicles equipped. We already know from our previous studies that a vehicle probe saturation of less than 10 percent can provide good information."
Contact Tara Servatius at firstname.lastname@example.org
Data Mining and Surveillance
They're Watching You (about data mining corporations versus personal privacy)
... We appear to be on the brink of a post-September 11 surveillance society. In one optimistic scenario, the U.S. is employing its full range of technical ingenuity to ferret out terrorists, using all the resources of the Digital Age and its quirky software geniuses. Meanwhile, dazzling new biometric identifiers -- iris scans, voiceprints, DNA registries, and facial recognition software -- are about to reduce identity theft to a quaint memory even while they shorten airport security lines and speed up credit approvals.
But in a less appealing second scenario, we could be on the verge of surrendering every detail about our private lives to an all-knowing Big Brother alliance of cops and mysterious private security corporations. They'll promise to protect us from terrorists. But along with that safety, we'll face arbitrary and unappealable decisions on who can fly in a commercial airliner, rent a truck, borrow money, or even stay out of jail.
That's the conundrum at the center of No Place to Hide, a finely balanced look at the see-saw struggle between security and privacy. Author Robert O'Harrow Jr., a Washington Post reporter, deftly shows how the government and its contractors have been lurching between these two goals ever since the September 11 terrorist attacks raised homeland security to the public's top priority.
The biggest threat and the biggest promise seem to lie not with official government databases but with the private companies that sell their information to all levels of government and to banks, airlines, credit-card companies, mortgage holders, car-rental agencies, and the like. ...
After September 11, it was only natural that these companies would volunteer their services in tracking terrorists. They had a head start in a critical technology: data mining. In practical terms, that involves cross-indexing every conceivable source of information -- unlisted telephone numbers, credit-card records, appliance warranty cards, insurance claims, arrest warrants, Social Security numbers, child custody orders, book purchases, E-ZPass records -- to compile a list of suspects or even possible terrorists that need to be placed on the Homeland Security Dept.'s "no fly" list.....
PTECH, 9/11, and USA-SAUDI TERROR - Part I
PROMIS Connections to Cheney Control of 9/11 Attacks Confirmed, by Jamey Hecht,
With research assistance by Michael Kane and editorial comment by Michael C. Ruppert
.... Total Information Awareness or TIA, an Orwellian nightmare of data mining that uses PROMIS-evolved technologies and artificial intelligence, is now operating and able to incorporate vastly divergent data bases of personal information on private citizens from computer systems using different languages in near-real-time. Every bit of personal information from grocery shopping habits to driving records, credit reports, credit card transactions and medical records is now almost instantly accessible. Access will be expedited and broadened to local law enforcement agencies when what will become a national ID card comes into being. That will happen as driver's licenses are standardized nationwide (following the recent intelligence reform act) to include a simple UPC-like code that will allow approved agencies to get all of our data. The surveillance and intervention capabilities of PROMIS progeny can now be used to prohibit a credit card purchase or (soon) prevent someone from boarding a commercial aircraft. These capabilities could also be used to empty a private bank account or - when coupled with biometric face recognition technology - prevent you from making a withdrawal from your bank or even buying food.
In every one of these software applications there are two themes: machines that "talk" to each other and artificial intelligence. (Please see Crossing the Rubicon). As you will see below, these capabilities are now known to exist.
TIA has been renamed several times. We know that the first software was delivered to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2003. Its latest nom de guerre is TIE or Trusted Information Environment. According to the San Francisco Chronicle last October TIE now allows the government to access private databases without a warrant. I go one step further to assert that TIE allows access to private databases without the knowledge of the database owners, provided only one condition exists: the database can be accessed through the internet.
And although the public face of TIA pretends that these technologies have not yet been applied, we are certain with the publication of this story that the same software the government needs is already in use by private corporations - the big ones - and we remind the reader that FTW's map of the world states that the government has been turned into a franchise operation of these corporations anyway. So where's the seam?
What the courageous and brilliant Indira Singh has to tell us is a matter of monumental importance. Based upon these new revelations which confirm what I suggested in Crossing the Rubicon every American and quite likely every citizen of an industrialized nation should assume that all of these technologies are operational today. A bit of breathing room is left as I conclude that they have not been sufficiently deployed yet to monitor all citizens in real time. My best assumption is that right now perhaps a million or so high-interest Americans are under constant surveillance; all by computer technology which has proven so accurate that it can detect suspicious movements just by correlating gasoline and food purchases with bank withdrawals and utility consumption. [--Michael C Ruppert]
Eyes on the road
February 3, 2006 - 11:19AM
Speed cameras, red-light cameras, e-tags. Innocuous technology to make the roads safer and our journey simpler ... or a series of "Little Brothers" keeping track of our every move? Nikki Barrowclough looks behind the boom in traffic monitoring.
Eight years ago, on the night that a Saudi diplomat was brutally murdered in his Canberra apartment, a car was filmed travelling south along the Hume Highway towards the national capital. Then, a few hours later, it was filmed heading north back towards Sydney.
The car wasn't being tailed by the Australian authorities, the Saudis or anyone else. The "spy" was a humble traffic camera, although this emerged only after four people were arrested and brought to trial over the diplomat's violent death. The fact that the camera had been set up to monitor speeding and unregistered trucks didn't cause a ripple. The candid Safe-T-Cam had, in fact, filmed every vehicle travelling along that stretch of the Hume. So when the diplomat's ex-lover insisted to police that she and her new boyfriend had been in Sydney at the time of the crime, the authorities had only to look at an image of her car fleeing back up the highway to know that she was lying.
Few people would be troubled by the use of traffic cameras to locate criminal suspects. But the Canberra incident highlights how the mass surveillance of motorists, far from being an Orwellian conspiracy theory, is now routinely practised and growing more pervasive by the year. In Australia and other major Western countries, traffic is increasingly monitored with the sort of sophisticated technology that makes the image of a shadowy figure watching through binoculars seem impossibly quaint. Whether we're appearing in "real time" on one of the hundreds of traffic cameras operated by central command centres in Melbourne and Sydney, being "flashed" on a speed or red-light camera operated by the police, or clocked on a toll road with our seemingly innocent e-tags, it's almost impossible to drive anywhere without being monitored and/or leaving an electronic data trail.
It's even getting harder to disappear on obscure back roads thanks to GPS - the US military-developed global positioning system whose satellite tracking can pinpoint a car's location to within a few metres. A group of Stanford University academics in the US are reportedly working on satellite navigation systems so accurate they will be able to tell authorities whether you're in your car or standing next to it. This is revolutionary technology, and great if you get lost or have an accident or your car is stolen. But there's a chilling aspect to it all as well - namely, the loss of individual privacy.
Two years ago, the Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner devoted an entire edition of its newsletter, Privacy Aware, to just one subject: "Privacy and the Car". It included a brief section on telematics, the term used to describe the combining of satellite GPS, in-car computers and mobile phone technologies. "Telematics raises concerns because, while GPS receivers cannot send data back to a central location, mobile phones can. Used together, they turn the vehicles they're embedded in into very powerful tracking and monitoring devices," the report declared.
How much covert monitoring goes on in tandem with open surveillance, such as speed cameras, is anyone's guess, because that's not the sort of information governments readily disclose. Professor Roger Clarke, a Canberra consultant in data surveillance and information privacy, regards the Hume Highway incident as an example of "function creep" - when technology, set up for one purpose, secretly ends up serving another purpose as well. And function creep, he says, is a way in which the "surveillance society" has sneaked under the public's guard.
"The social and political commentators have missed it, but what's more worrying is that young people have grown up with surveillance and have a different attitude to it," Clarke says. "They think life's like that."
Governments and transport authorities insist that such surveillance systems are totally benign. They are about road safety, keeping people alive, and managing increasing volumes of traffic more efficiently, they say. This isn't just soothing rhetoric - with around 1600 deaths on Australian roads last year alone, road safety is a huge issue - but at the same time we seem to have ceded our civil rights as motorists.
Cameron Murphy, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, does not doubt that surveillance technology is about much more than simple traffic management.
"Most people are aware that speed cameras and red-light cameras are obviously there for infringement purposes," Murphy says. "But we are also aware that there's an extensive network of cameras that can track people from one end of the city to the other, along freeways and on main arterial roads.
"You should be able to go from A to B without the government monitoring you. If the prime motive is traffic management alone, then you don't have to survey one end of the freeway to the other - it doesn't add up. That's when it becomes an invasion of privacy ... Recording where people go, what time of day they travel. If there aren't appropriate controls, the data could be used for commercial purposes or by any other government agency."
Given the fear of terrorism and the heightened national security alert, the potential of some of the new "smart road" technologies is obvious. For instance, British firm Hills Numberplates has already devised so-called e-Plates, numberplates embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. These tags act as tracking devices that transmit a unique, encrypted ID code via silicon chips that cannot be seen or removed. Known as a silent technology, RFID is sometimes described as a sophisticated barcode because it can identify and track goods from a distance.
Hills Numberplates claims a single "reader" positioned at the roadside can identify dozens of vehicles fitted with an e-Plate, moving at any speed, at a distance of up to 100 metres. But will they catch on here? VicRoads has no plans to bring in e-Plates. However, the NSW Roads & Traffic Authority says they have certainly been up for discussion - though as yet there's no decision to introduce them.
"But as with everything of this nature, it's a case of watch this space," a spokesman says.
Transport authorities are also keeping an open mind about an electronic version of the vehicle identification number (VIN) that comes with every car. A Department of Transport and Regional Services spokesperson in Canberra says that while there are no plans "at this point in time" for an electronic VIN, that doesn't mean it won't happen.
Melbourne-based academic Professor Marcus Wigan, an adviser to the US Department of Transport, is also the Australian Privacy Foundation's spokesman on intelligent transport systems. He says e-VINs (which would transmit to a central location as cars pass specific points) are simply a more efficient way of managing the many regulatory aspects of the identity of vehicles. An e-VIN would certainly decimate the stolen car trade, but it would also obviously increase the ability of authorities to track cars and monitor daily travel routines.
The expression "intelligent transport systems" (ITS) is a catch-all phrase for the in-car electronics, smarter roads, satellite navigation technology, tolling systems and remote road monitoring being employed increasingly throughout the world - sometimes without limit.
Last September, as Hurricane Rita bore down on Texas, and hundreds of thousands of motorists fleeing the Houston area became trapped in a 200-kilometre traffic jam in which cars were abandoned and people collapsed from heat exhaustion, officers from the state's highway system were reportedly scanning e-tags to make sure evacuees had paid their tolls.
Meanwhile, London's Independent newspaper reported late last month that the United Kingdom was about to become the first country in the world where all motorists would be monitored by a vast network of cameras that would read the licence plates of every passing car. Neither the Home Office nor the British police denied the story, or the paper's claim that the ultimate plan was to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that police and security services could analyse the journeys of individual drivers.
And in the US, the Washington-based Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office - a powerful, 500-strong group of car manufacturers, technology companies and government interests - has reportedly spent more than $4 billion and almost 15 years developing a system of tracking and sensor technology that would collect data on the movements of every driver and public transport user. The stated aim of this system, known as the Integrated Network of Transportation Information, is to reduce the 40,000 or so annual road deaths in America by allowing government agencies to intervene directly between drivers, their cars and the road. And authorities want to have it in place within the next decade.
Whether or not they were designed for such purposes, what intelligent transport systems do is identify specific vehicles - and, therefore, their drivers.
The term first cropped up in Australia about 15 years ago. In 1992, an organisation called Intelligent Transport Systems Australia was set up in Melbourne, and today its membership base includes government, scientific, academic and car manufacturing groups. The group's executive director, Brent Stafford, says he expects that all new vehicles will be equipped with satellite navigation and telematics by 2010. And while he says he understands people's unease about such technologies, he can't see why such systems would be used to track Australians en masse, as seems to be the intent in Britain.
"It's quite easy to track the movements of every vehicle, but you'd have to ask, 'What for?'" says Stafford. "You'd also have to consider how much it would cost. ITS is the application of technology to transport. It's not the application of technology to security. The fact is, there'll be lots of Little Brothers looking after you, but no Big Brother spying on you."
Lachlan McIntosh, chief executive of the Australian Automobile Association, shares Stafford's view. "Why would you want to track everybody? And what would you do with all that data?" he asks.
When Good Weekend suggests to him that, given the uncertain times we live in, such surveillance options could be very attractive to government departments, he replies: "In France during World War II, everyone was tracked and monitored without these technologies.
I think surveillance comes and goes in society ... If there's a political will to monitor what everybody does, then it's likely to happen.
"In the end, there are a lot of benefits in monitoring where you are: the emergency response if you are to have an accident, for instance ... If, as you say, this will happen, and everyone had a monitoring device in their car that said they just had an accident, we may well save 100 or 200 lives a year. Okay, you may well have been going to Cronulla when you shouldn't have been, or maybe you had an unfortunate crash and nearly died, but you were saved because of the device. There are trade-offs in those discussions, and we often forget the benefits when we talk about the downside."
There are also advantages in being able to keep an eye on hazardous cargo or large sums of money, he adds. "We all want to know that if a cargo of ammonium nitrate goes missing, it can be tracked and found. Is that an intrusive activity on the driver of the truck? Well, maybe it is, but it's a security mechanism as well. Now, should you want to put surveillance on a particular car for some criminal activity, I imagine you would need a warrant and you would have to go to a magistrate to obtain it. So I would think Australians would want to ensure that they are protected through our court system against the undue use of surveillance."
People have to be informed about the benefits of the new technology, what the implications are and what the risks are, he adds. "As long as we have that sort of reasonably informed debate in Australia, I think we're likely to want to adopt the latest technology."
But is there debate? Dr Peter Chen, a political scientist who lectures in communications at the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University, says Australians tend to be relatively passive when it comes to such matters.
"While we like to tell ourselves that we have a healthy disregard for government, it's total fiction. We're very accepting of increased state security and surveillance for whatever reason," Chen believes. And when governments talk up safety as a way of getting more surveillance systems under the wire without causing public alarm, we generally accept official reasoning.
"That's the argument that's always used," says Chen. "No government ever says we're introducing wide-scale surveillance for anything but notions of public safety, and while the paranoid concerns of some people are somewhat overstated, systematic surveillance technologies are very compelling tools for governments of all persuasions, and tend to inevitably lead to the expansion of their use into other areas of public policy."
Remote surveillance, like static cameras and portable speed cameras, is cheap, too; much cheaper than human surveillance. "This was a key argument in the government's support for electronic tagging of terrorist suspects late last year: surveillance technologies are cheaper than policing," he says.
Police in NSW recently began using high-tech scanning units that employ automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) technology to "read" the registration of passing vehicles and check them against an RTA database, as a way of detecting stolen and unregistered vehicles. Victoria Police trialled the technology, too, but has opted instead for mobile data terminals linked to the main police computer system, from which police can also access the VicRoads registration database. Seven hundred of these terminals are now being fitted to police cars, motorbikes, boats and helicopters by the Victorian Department of Justice.
Paul Chadwick, the Victorian Privacy Commissioner, wrote about ANPR technology during the trial. The systems, he pointed out, can be linked to existing surveillance camera systems, "so multiplying the 'eyes' of the State, and can be linked to a variety of databases, so expanding the State's 'memory'".
Meanwhile, the ordinary motorist, blithely driving across town or to a lunch in the country, should think twice about e-tags - those small, wireless electronic transponders attached to the windscreen that collect information about a car's movements and charge the owner a toll.
The e-tag revolution kicked off in Melbourne in 2000 with the opening of the privately operated, 22-kilometre CityLink, one of the world's first automated, fully electronic toll roads. In Sydney, both the controversial Cross City Tunnel and the recently opened Westlink M7 are also fully automated. This means that toll-road operators, whether they're government or private companies, can collect personal information such as your vehicle registration, driver's licence number, credit card details, name and address and your pattern of travel.
And that's a concern to lawyer Anna Johnston, a former NSW deputy privacy commissioner who's now the chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation. As she notes, drivers on these toll roads now have no choice but to identify themselves every time they use them. "I don't want to indulge in conspiracy theories, or say that we have reached that 'Big Brother' point," she says, "but there is a danger we are sleepwalking into a situation where more and more of our information can be logged, tracked, profiled and matched in ways that haven't really been contemplated in the past. That may not be the intention at the time a new technology is introduced - but of course with each new technology, with each new chipping-away at our privacy, it makes the next step so much easier."
Johnston's foundation campaigned against a law passed in NSW last May, which allows the RTA to issue photo identity cards to non-drivers over 16 years of age (VicRoads has no plans to introduce the voluntary scheme).
"We weren't against the concept of a photo ID card for non-drivers - there's a need for it, clearly - but we suggested an alternative way to develop it, so that it didn't result in one database being held by one agency covering the entire population, whose details get printed on a card which is both unique and universal. All that, of course, is like a national ID card, which Australians rejected in 1987."
The bill didn't limit the type of information that could be collected and stored, Johnston says, and the legislation specifically allowed the RTA to put the two databases (driver and non-driver) together. She's concerned the latter will eventually happen.
However, both the RTA and a spokesman for the NSW Roads Minister, Joe Tripodi, assured Good Weekend that the photocard database would be kept separate from other databases within the authority, and that there would be separate databases for drivers and non-drivers. In a statement, the RTA also said that databases kept on NSW motorists are not integrated, for privacy reasons, and that access to one database doesn't automatically mean access to another.
The inevitability of more privately run, cashless toll roads, and a more widespread user-pays road system means there'll be more databases and more information stored on motorists. Privacy laws protect access to all databases, although privacy advocates tend to be lukewarm about their effectiveness.
"You get principles that sound great in theory, like, 'This information should only be used for the purpose for which it's collected, or with your consent', and people say, 'Oh good'," says Nigel Waters of the Australian Privacy Foundation. "Then you look at the fine print where it says, 'Except in emergencies, for law enforcement and a whole raft of other exemptions.'"
But the acting Privacy Commissioner for NSW, John Dickie, argues the Privacy Act is not without teeth. "Government departments and agencies are subject to it. People can't just wander off and get around things - [though] if there is a serious crime, all bets are off," he says.
Four years ago, a former employee of Transurban, the company that operates CityLink, admitted in court that he had passed on the credit-card details of more than 8000 CityLink customers to cyber thieves, who then used them for an internet spending spree. A subsequent review of Transurban's information handling practices by the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner found Transurban needed to take steps to reduce the risk of further privacy breaches. The FPC won't detail what those measures involved.
A spokesman says there were no fundamental problems and that Transurban merely needed to "enhance" existing systems.
Meanwhile, Transurban has told Good Weekend that it takes the protection of personal information seriously, and that the manner in which it manages the use and disclosure of personal information goes beyond obligations imposed by state and federal privacy legislation. The information it collects on its database is used only for collecting tolls and enforcing toll collection, isn't available to other organisations, and is only made available to police or to an authorised government body once there's a properly authorised written request.
It's not just toll-road operators who are amassing huge amounts of data on private citizens. In what could almost be called privatised intelligence gathering, the outsourcing of traffic management systems to private-sector organisations means more databases still. One such organisation is Tenix, the contractor employed by Victoria Police to operate its speed cameras - and which wrongly fined more than 100 motorists last July after the wrong speed limit was entered into the machine by an operator.
"I guess if there's a concern about the private-sector organisations holding increasing amounts of data, it's, 'Where are they holding it, how secure is it, and what purpose are they putting it to?'" says Monash's Peter Chen, who believes we will soon be talking about "data laundering" the way we now talk about money laundering. "I think it's safe to say that governments around the world, not just in Australia, have been lousy at regulating the movement of data about members of the public held by private-sector organisations.
"We have privacy laws which are relatively tight, but ... if you put a large chunk of the general surveillance system data into private hands, the company that picks up that contract will undertake that work in the most effective and efficient way for their profitability. And that might mean warehousing and processing data offshore, outside the legal jurisdiction of Australian governments. If I were a car company, I'd be very interested in finding out about the sort of people who drive a lot, who they are, what are their characteristics. If that information was held in a country with
poor data security legal provisions, then data could be sold, resold or 'stolen'. That's not a conspiracy theory view. It happens all the time. Large amounts of data get 'lost' in transit every year around the world."
Marcus Wigan points out that no one "owns" the information stored about them - so there's very little redress for consumers if their data is misused. "There's no such thing as intellectual property when it comes to information about you," he says. Nevertheless, he cautions against paranoia over intelligent transport systems, even though he has his own concerns about the data building up as a result of new technologies.
"The rules we have to manage that information are reasonably good, but not so good as to handle a situation of future cross-linkages between all those databases," he says. "So if we have [someone's] entire historical records on a range of individual databases, and at some point, for administrative convenience, a link is drawn between them, then the result is a complete history of locations, times, events of many different kinds that suddenly becomes available as a single resource. That's a quantum leap.
"Your vehicle will have had its numberplate [photographed] various times, your e-tag will have been caught - you only have to have one identification token transferred between two or more agencies for an amazing degree of record linkage with other sources of information about you and your activities over a considerable period.
"The ability to manage this is improving incredibly quickly. Once this is achieved and it's a few years away yet - we suddenly get a retrospective loss of privacy of an enormous order [and] ITS systems become surveillance systems.
"I'm not saying they'll be used in that way," Wigan adds. "I'm saying the potential for that to occur ... would then become a low-cost, low-effort issue. We need to use the time until all this is in place to educate and earn the trust of the community to secure the very real benefits of intelligent transport systems."
Published in the Good Weekend on January 28, 2006
Several reports were sent separately that have background on the bridge issue and the issues of Peak Traffic:
the 2005 Hirsch Report prepared for US Department of Energy
International Energy Agency, Saving Oil in a Hurry, 2005
US Department of Energy, Future U.S. Highway Energy Use: A Fifty Year Perspective, May 3, 2001
Richard Heinberg, Powerdown (introduction)
Business Week admits Peak Traffic is here, gas price increases are permanent, suburbia is winding down"
Peak Traffic: Planning NAFTA Superhighways at the End of the Age of Oil
Behind enemy lines with the granola commandos
Published in Detroit Metro Times, 1993.
article about toxic waste used to power cement kilns
"Crude Oil: the supply outlook" report to the Energy Watch Group, October 2007
"Scientific American report" The End of Cheap Oil (March 1998)