Plan needed in response to dwindling oil supplies |

Plan needed in response to dwindling oil supplies

Gunnar Henrioulle

Uncomfortable and unfamiliar as it may be for the respective constituencies of TRPA board members, there are forces in motion that will affect transportation policy dead ahead.

If you will type in “Cantarell,” there is a great deal of information regarding Mexico’s super-giant oilfield. We in California and Nevada get a significant portion of oil from Cantarell. According to reports, which one would expect TRPA staff to verify independently, the inescapable fact: Mexico’s ability to export oil will soon be in jeopardy. That will affect their ability to finance government services in Mexico – that is another issue – all the more reason to get transportation squared away ASAP.

What is exceedingly important to our transportation and agriculture is making up the missing barrels of oil. We are straining to stay even, with constantly growing domestic demand, plus booming growth in China and India. And, Middle East supply is no guarantee either. Those at the city of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado and Placer county supervisors, TRPA, Harrah’s, Heavenly, Caltrans and NDOT too, have seen previous input regarding need for railway re-emphasis. It seems only sensible for all responsible parties in government as well as corporate executives to examine transportation options, even as the threats to highway transport are becoming very apparent. The full-service railway system, as we had even to the shores of Lake Tahoe in past years, is a requisite part of the Oil Crash solution set.

There is actually a Web site,, that has a comprehensive menu of news articles and books on the subject of oilwell depletion. Information ranges from the scholarly to the sensational. This writer has spent over a decade sifting through the information, and it brings the inescapable conclusion that action must be taken now. It is important for responsibles, and that includes heads of young families as well as people with titles and big salaries, to be up-to-speed on the very real possibility of gas rationing and diesel-fuel allocation for trucking and agriculture. Teachers can bring “The Association For The Study Of Peak Oil & Gas” ( to students’ attention as a global warming and energy resource. See ASPO newsletter article 374, a modest paper of general interest.

The American mid-20th century model of transport is a helpful one to revisit as we prepare to tackle the twin challenges of global warming and peaking oil. Railways were inclusive of branch lines and a multitude of electric inter-urban lines, guarantors of national connectivity to a local service level. Lake Tahoe had its own USA railway connector at Tahoe City. Grass Valley had rails as well.

The Northern Nevada cities, Lake Tahoe region, and places along the way such as Placerville and Colfax are going to need to put full railway reconnection (passenger and freight) on the planning agenda ASAP. Wise leadership will understand that “a clean transportation system that can haul passenger and freight” is Job No. 1 in the looming energy crisis.

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Interestingly, the presidential candidate receiving the greatest number of votes in the 2002 election used the exact phrase quoted above during the 1997 Tanoe Environmental Summit. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater repeated it during the workshop sessions at the University of Nevada, Reno. Here is a phrase from another source: “Second dimension surface transport logistics platform.”

Taken together, the two descriptive phrases mean only one thing, a renewable, propelled (where suitable), electric, full-service railway. Let’s talk about it at the 2007 Tahoe Environmental Summit.

– Gunnar Henrioulle is a South Lake Tahoe resident and alternative transportation advocate.