Half the Oil? UCS looks at driving down petroleum usage on the US West Coast

February 4, 2016 |

BD-TS-020516-halftheoil-smOf all the stirring anti-petroleum war cries of recent years, the UK’s “Keep it in the ground” has found a rival in California’s “Half the Oil”.

But, realistic? How, when? The Union of Concerned Scientists points the way with a new report. The Digest investigates.

In Washington, the Union of Concerned Scientists has released a major report, “Half the Oil”, outlining steps required to achieve a 50% reduction in petroleum use in the US Pacific Coast States by 2030. The take-off point was a call by California Governor Jerry Brown to achieve that 50% reduction in petroleum consumption by 2030, outlined in his 2015 inaugural address.

The report’s authors, ICF International, write:

The Pacific Coast States—California, Oregon, and Washington—were projected to consume a combined 22 billion gasoline gallon equivalents of petroleum based fuels in the transportation sector in 2015. Policies and measures in place are forecasted to reduce this to about 18 billion gallons by 2030, with California achieving an estimated 24 percent reduction compared to 2015, and Oregon and Washington both achieving about an 8 percent reduction.

The strategies

ICF analyzed a combination of strategies that could be employed to achieve a 50 percent reduction in petroleum consumption in California, Oregon, and Washington by 2030 (i.e., Half the Oil, HtO). ICF considered strategies across three broad categories: (1) reducing vehicle travel by improving transportation options and land use planning, (2) improving vehicle efficiency, and (3) using more alternative fuels, including biofuels, electricity, and natural gas.

These strategies were applied to on-road fuel consumption by light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as off-road fuel consumption in railroad, marine, and other applications (e.g., construction and mining equipment, cargo handling equipment, etc.). ICF’s analysis made use of existing analyses of the petroleum reduction potential for each strategy, with the appropriate modifications for the states considered for this report. In other words, the strategies considered are not purely aspirational; they are grounded in existing technological assessments, incorporate supply constraints, and account for other factors that affect viability.

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