CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
PEAK OIL PREPAREDNESS TASK FORCE
TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2008, 3:00 P.M.
TASK FORCE MEMBERS: Jeanne-Marie Rosenmeier (Chair), Bernard Meyerson (Vice-Chair), Patricia Gerber, Richard Katz, Jason Mark, Cal Simone; 1 Vacant.
ORDER OF BUSINESS
1. Call to Order and Roll Call. The Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force meeting convened at 3:07 p.m. Present: Chair Rosenmeier, Vice-Chair Meyerson, Members Gerber, Katz, Simone (Excused: Member Mark).
2. Approval of the June 17, 2008 Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force Regular Meeting Draft Minutes. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Member Gerber and second by Member Katz, the June 17, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection with amendments. Ms. Fish discussed another amendment to the meeting minutes during New Business that brought the minutes back for a vote. Upon Motion by Member Gerber and second by Chair Rosenmeier the meeting minutes were amended without objection. (Absent: Member Mark) (Explanatory Document: June 17, 2008 Approved)
3. Task Force Procedures and Protocols. (Discussion and Possible Action) SPEAKER: Member Katz
Member Katz recommended that work requests that are beyond the Task Force Secretary’s scope of work go through the Chair or Vice-Chair. Chair Rosenmeier asked Ms. Fish whether other Task Forces go through the Chair to request information from Department staff. Ms. Fish stated that other Task Forces that she staffs have not discussed these protocols as of this time. Member Simone stated that members should be able to contact anyone in the department with informational requests that are related to their section of the report.
Upon Motion by Member Simone and second by Member Katz, without objection, Task Force members’ work requests to the Task Forces’ allocated resources (Department staff members) that are beyond their regular scope of work would go through the Chair or Vice-Chair. (Absent: Member Mark)
4. Report on “The Big One” Sustainability Event at Golden Gate Park. (Informational Report and Discussion) Speaker: Vice-Chair Meyerson
Vice-Chair Meyerson reported that (1) the attendance at the event was low on Sunday due to having to deal with cold and windy weather conditions, and (2) that there was an interesting presentation, but little activity at the peak oil table. It was stated that there is a plan to hold the event annually. Member Katz stated that he attended the event on Saturday, printed out handouts, and there were a number of people in attendance that he spoke with on peak oil that had an understanding of the concept. Member Gerber reported that she had attended the event on Saturday and Sunday, and the varying weather conditions on both days may have brought down attendance, but was not sure a better impact would have been achieved with better weather.
Public Comment: Mr. Don Eichelberger suggested that the event name “The Big One” should be changed as it gives an impression that the subject is about an earthquake.
Item 6 was heard before Item 5.
5. Review of Draft Economy Section of the Report. (Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Economy Report Section Amended and Bibliography) Speaker: Chair Rosenmeier
Task Force members provided their recommendations on various areas of the Economy Section of the report. Member Katz recommended using Milton Friedman tools for analyzing a growing economy and requested that Ms. Friedemann send articles to Chair Rosenmeier that contain different perspectives. Member Gerber indicated that she agrees that the conventional economic theories are decreasing in useful value as we get further into current issues and suggested that another method of analysis should be used to replace the conventional theory. Vice-Chair Meyerson recommended including caveats to the assumptions being made. Member Simone suggested including somewhere early in the report in the Introduction or Executive Summary that we are moving into a situation that is completely unknown to us and has never been experienced.
Ms. Friedemann discussed writings by professors at Harvard, Boston, etc. about framing society from an energy point of view and who have exposed the flaws of looking at the world from a capitalist ideology. It was stated that there are published reports that explain the economy of the world from an ecological point of view that exposes how crazy the monetary perspective is because it doesn’t take into account the destruction of resources. Ms. Friedemann stated that she has a book about the history of financial collapses and how people cope, and thinks that financial collapses may happen sooner than later. It was stated that Argentina had the most successful method of coping, and that she is writing an article that could be referred to.
Mr. Eichelberger stated that this section should not define itself by the way economics is considered right now because the present is seen as a recessionary period and conservation is seen as recessionary. It was indicated that a framework has to be established so that conservation is set at a higher calling than what it is considered now. Mr. Eichelberger provided suggestions for issuing a carbon tax on gasoline prices that could be used as locally controlled finance for small business development, MUNI, public transportation, and as a way to set up a social safety net and provide small business support. It was explained that there needs to be an infrastructure set up to get people out of their cars.
Mr. Nick Parsons stated that one of the main purposes of this section of the report is to describe how rapidly rising oil and natural gas prices are likely to affect the economy. He said the group had discussed how traditional economic measurements do not reflect the impact of rapidly rising energy prices. He said that the group had also discussed possibly using alternative economic measurements to show the true impact of peak oil, but that idea was deemed too much for a 10-page report. Mr. Parsons stated that a discussion was also held on ways this section of the report could make the economic argument using the traditional economic measurements in a way that has more of an impact, and that one way that was recommended was to use the traditional numbers but to also include the questions that have been raised about their accuracy. Mr. Parsons stated that if there are no studies that show what would happen if, for example, oil goes up 150% in a short time, then you can legitimately say that we are in uncharted territory, and this could justify the need for reasonable speculative scenarios. It was stated that Phase 1 could include the traditional numbers with the caveats discussed, and then the focus of the argument could be more on Phase 2 of energy decent. It was explained that answers may not be reached until actions are taken, and there should be recommendations on getting started.
Mr. Forrest A DeGroff, Carbon Cycle Consulting, discussed the electronics internet-industry in San Francisco and questioned why there isn’t more of a push by employers to advocate telecommuting for employees, indicating that an experiential learning curve is needed. It was stated that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Community Advisory Committee (CAC) gave a presentation on the benefits of telecommuting and energy savings that could be seen if there was more participation. Mr. DeGroff also discussed the amount of energy required to transport an employee to a building versus the energy cost savings of telecommuting. Mr. DeGroff discussed China’s current work in Venezuela to develop oil called orimulsion that he believes is worse than bunker fuel. Mr. DeGroff stated that the times are different today, and he is concerned.
6. Recommendations for the Length and Structure of the Final Report. (Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Report Outline) Speaker: Chair Rosenmeier
Chair Rosenmeier stated that for a city of San Francisco’s size and because of the complexity of the report, the length should be somewhere in between the Portland report (85 pages) and the City’s Economic Strategy Report (200 pages). Member Gerber suggested that the individual report sections be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to keep it interesting rather than set a specific number of pages.
Chair Rosenmeier discussed the topics in the Report Outline, most of which were called out in the enabling legislation and others that were important to add, e.g., Energy Use and Buildings and Vision of Post Carbon S.F. Recommendations to the structure of the report included:
· Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that he was in favor of report brevity with a focus on basic information that contains specific and practical recommendations on actions to take for immediate and future attention.
· Member Simone recommended placing primary recommendations in the front of the report after the Executive Summary and Introduction (after Section 2). Chair Rosenmeier suggested that the Executive Summary contain the top three recommendations.
· Vice-Chair Meyerson recommended that Item 12 “Vision of Post Carbon SF” be an appendix. Member Katz suggested changing the title to “Vision of Low Carbon SF”.
· Member Gerber recommended that the Chicago Manual of Style of grammar be used.
· Member Simone recommended switching the order so that Neighborhoods and Community would be 10 and Energy Use and Buildings would be 9.
Public Comment: Mr. Eichelberger recommended including graphs, charts, visuals, sidebars, slideshows with commentary, and to keep it short and interesting. Mr. Eichelberger distributed a handout ““Energy in San Francisco” and offered to work on this section either on his own or with another designated member. A recommendation was made to simplify the energy section as much as possible with a discussion of utilizing less energy, to state where we are now, and to consider where we need to go. It was stated that there are hundreds of reports on this topic where no action has been taken. Mr. Eichelberger recommended that an evaluation be completed on the status of the “Standard of Living Plan” completed twelve years ago, which had a major focus on the use of carbon. It was suggested that a strong recommendation be made to the Department of Emergency Services and Police and Fire Departments to follow the lead of the United States Coast Guard to go solar in their lighting and power. Chair Rosenmeier discussed the possibility of including a section on how the Peak Oil Preparedness Report relates to other existing reports. Vice-Chair Meyerson recommended including a reference to other reports instead of repeating the same information.
7. Recommendations for Treatment of Potential Civil Unrest. (Discussion)
Vice-Chair Meyerson reported on his meeting with the Vacaville Chief of Police to discuss strategies that could be put in place in the case of civil unrest due to an increase in gas prices. Civil unrest that might occur includes theft of: food and yellow grease, money to buy food; siphoning of gas; and theft from gasoline trucks, delivery trucks, and gasoline stations. It was stated that as economic frustrations rise, there could be more rage directed towards oil companies and gas facilities and an increase in crime.
Member Simone stated that the two general categories to be concerned about would be individual acts of crime and societal unrest. It was indicated that problems could arise based on shortages and/or price increases. There may be less ability for anger management due to a more regressed society, impatience, and less tolerance. Member Simone stated that the biggest vulnerability is when food supplies start to decrease to the point where society can’t maintain a balanced or sustainable diet and physical and psychological problems would begin to be seen that people would not be prepared for; e.g., malnutrition and death. Member Simone discussed the segment of the population that he felt would be affected the most, the low- and middle socio-economic strata, and discussed the idea that racial tension may arise as a result.
Member Simone discussed responses that the City could take in order to restore law and order, such as bringing in the Police and National Guard. It was recommended that these considerations be addressed in the report and that they should be presented in a worst-case scenario basis. Member Katz discussed the increase in armed robberies in his neighborhood and the possibility of authorities cordoning off neighborhoods to non-residents.
Member Gerber stated that (1) she felt that the first people to suffer physically would be the ones that are unhealthy, (2) that there may not be a correlation between race and class, and (3) that the anger could be generational. Member Gerber questioned whether it was a good idea to address the chaos scenario and cited the Portland report that referred to this scenario as a possibility, but did not address the issues, as there was nothing useful to be accomplished. Member Gerber stated that if you are going to be doing any planning, you have to be able to define what you are going to plan for, and the anarchy scenario has too many variables; it doesn’t lend itself to planning. Addressing this topic would be social engineering, which does not have a good track record and doesn’t work. Member Gerber recommended that addressing this area would lower the potential impact of the report and suggested spending more time on the energy section and intermittency. It was stated that we already have a Police Department, and she does not know what can be recommended that would be useful.
Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that there is a need to start working with the idea on how to feed and provide water to an entire population. This solution could proactively prevent the worst of social disintegration.
Member Simone stated that there are many scenarios that the City should know about so they can prepare their response, and suggested that these issues be put in an appendix so they will be covered. Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that San Francisco shouldn’t have a fortress mentality. Member Simone stated that food shortages are happening everywhere around the country, and the Task Force should be responsible and provide recommendations.
Mr. Forrest DeGroff stated that he thinks there is a powerful connection between food and energy, and that he had attended a bioengineering conference where they were sensitive to this shift on food and energy and the connection between energy and transferability. It was stated that it is critical to point out how energy-intensive food is and to discuss the concept of over-production of food, but not being able to feed all of humanity. Mr. DeGroff recommended creating an inventory, on individual, group, district, and city levels of staple foods that can be stored for long periods of time. There is a psychological aspect that can be solved that if you get hungry that there is food available. It has to be a multi-layered approach to every layer of the community that you need to point out that unless you do something, things can fall apart. If we get hit with 50% shock, we won’t be able to pay for fertilizer, there are questions as to whether water will be able to be pumped, how to move the food, and how to treat and store food. Mr. DeGroff stated that he thinks this topic should be included in the report. Member Gerber stated that food and energy are already included in the report, but the debate is about whether to include civil disorder.
Mr. Don Eichelberger stated that civil unrest should be referred to in the report, but that a detailed analysis is not required.
8. Possible Recommendation regarding New Electric Generating Facilities. (Continued from the June 17, 2008 Meeting) (Discussion) SPEAKER: Member Gerber.
Member Gerber recommended that all analyses of any potential new generation that would include rebuilding Mirant would include Energy Return on Investment or Energy Return on Energy Invested as a component.
Public Comment: Mr. Eichelberger offered to work on the energy section of the report. It was stated that there is so much flux going on in energy, that the Task Force should question what they want to pursue or not. An absolute moratorium on any new fossil fuel production needs to be in place and should be factored in. Mr. Eichelberger stated that the best thing to do is to make recommendations for energy conservation and renewables. It was indicated that the best way to achieve this would be by moving forward with the Community Choice Aggregation Plan so that the City has more input about its energy policies and not depend so much on PG&E.
This item was continued to the July 15, 2008 meeting.
9. Third Party Plan Recommendations. (Discussion) SPEAKER: Member Simone.
Member Simone stated that the Third Party Plan was included in the Task Force’s enabling legislation and should be addressed. This item was continued to the July 15, 2008 meeting.
10. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion) Ms. Fish announced that she would be on vacation for the September 16 meeting and asked whether the Task Force would like to reschedule the meeting to another date or have someone else sit in. Possible meeting dates were discussed and members agreed to provide a recommendation at the July 15, 2008 meeting. Member Simone recommended forming a Sub-Committee for the Energy Section of the Report. Chair Rosenmeier indicated that a Sub-Committee of less than a quorum of members could discuss the energy section. Member Meyerson stated that he would be presenting on the Infrastructure Section of the Report at the next meeting. Member Simone recommended extending the length of meetings in order to address all agenda items.
11. Public Comments: Members of the public may address the Task Force on matters that are within the Task Force’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.
Mr. Forrest DeGroff stated that there is a lot of talk about acquiring green sources of energy, but has not heard much about working on inefficiency steps. It was stated that the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Plan would be able to target high-energy consumers and request that they adopt energy-efficiency measures. It was stated that PG&E is not willing to give information about which customers consume the most energy, because it may conflict with their business/profitability interests.
12. Adjournment. The Task Force meeting adjourned at 5:31 p.m.
Approved: July 15, 2008
** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Task Force office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) upon request to the Task Force Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709 or via e-mail at [email protected], or (3) at the Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force meeting website as attachments with each agenda or meeting minutes.