Lisa Margonelli on energy policy: ‘We can really change our behaviors’

Energy policy expert Lisa Margonelli is the author of a book about the oil supply chain, “Oil On the Brain: Petroleum’s Long Strange Trip to Your Tank.” In this interview, Alison Stewart speaks to Margonelli about U.S. energy policy in the wake of the BP spill. Is Obama’s goal of reducing foreign oil dependence by one-third in the next 15 years a realistic one? Margonelli offers real-life examples of what kinds of changes – in both behavior and policy – we could make in order to attain this goal.“The oil problem is so huge and so multi-tentacled and so involved in our lives,” said Margonelli. “People are hungering for sort of bigger, more technological fixes… But I think we’ve overlooked the social engineering. Which is that we can really change our behaviors quite quickly – and we often times do change our behaviors.”

Related:

Not in my backyard? Lisa Margonelli at the 2010 TEDx Oil Spill conference

When birds wash ashore

 
SUGGESTED STORIES
  • Differing views on fracking's impact
    Studies conducted on the counties above the Marcellus and Barnett Shale for example — where extensive drilling has already taken place — present mixed economic results.
  • thumb
    Too much solar energy?
    The proliferation of privately owned solar has large power companies in Germany worried.
  • thumb
    Nominee has industry ties
    Energy secretary nominee had deep connections to industry, including as a paid adviser to BP until 2011.

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Himanshu-Vyas/503328994 Himanshu Vyas

    The “Bishop Ranch” example is actually what’s WRONG with America’s oil demand, not what is right. The right policy going forward ought to start with land use and maximizing it in the city before allowing such sprawl to not only consume our fertile farm lands but also leave a legacy of transport requirements such as asphalt (oil product) highways, individual transport systems (cars, trucks etc all based on oil and need oil-based plastics), and such land use leading to more profligate land use in terms of suburbs and exurban growth.

    At this rate, buses aren’t going to be the answer. “American Dream” is going to choke America and lead to “American Death.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Himanshu-Vyas/503328994 Himanshu Vyas

    The “Bishop Ranch” example is actually what’s WRONG with America’s oil demand, not what is right. The right policy going forward ought to start with land use and maximizing it in the city before allowing such sprawl to not only consume our fertile farm lands but also leave a legacy of transport requirements such as asphalt (oil product) highways, individual transport systems (cars, trucks etc all based on oil and need oil-based plastics), and such land use leading to more profligate land use in terms of suburbs and exurban growth.

    At this rate, buses aren’t going to be the answer. “American Dream” is going to choke America and lead to “American Death.”

  • Anonymous

    She didn’t say “”buses”" were the answer – they are part of the solution though.

  • Anonymous

    PBS … I wish there was more of a way to spread this information – I LOVE YOU PBS.
    You keep it in perspective. I’m just saddened that the majority of America is hooked on stupid when watching American Media Programming.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nellmc.98 Nell Reece

    I telecommute. It’s good for everything… my company, my time, and the environment. We need to do more of that!
    Wouldn’t you like a 30 second commute?

  • Anonymous

    Let us go back to 1970 for a second when we could by then understand that we have an internal behavior problem in many sections of our own society and we have a behavior problem abroad as well. There are solutions, but we need people that have support, are courageous, have personal ethics and cannot be wrongfully lobbied by the bad business of some corporations and “thugs”. By the other hand our problem with public transportation are not only oil pollution but in addition too much noise pollution because of the corruption from a part of our own public that lobbied the Federal Government giving birth to circumvented noise rules and laws that violate our rights all in the assumption that our roads will be more safe. So now, we have this mechanical world not only riding in the streets but also inside our homes as well. If we can change this corruption and use our technology to make things better; (…and YES, We can!); it is possible we can correct this America’s transportation mess and maybe people will use our Public Transportation more instead of driving their own vehicles to work.

  • Anonymous

    Lisa Margonelli said:

    “You can’t buy free-range organic gasoline”

    And she is supposed to be an energy policy expert? Sad to say that she is obviously not; it appears that people like her lead a cloistered life where they only communicate with other Greens. As a result, they appear to lack knowledge of the real world.

    Don’t know what ‘organic’ means to her, but using the correct definition, gasoline is made up of organic chemicals (hydrocarbons). But, yes Lisa, there is free-range organic gasoline. At least that is what I would call gasoline that used, for example, Corn Stover as a feedstock.

    Does she even know that it is possible to make synthetic hydrocarbons from any organic waste that contains Carbon and (optionally) Hydrogen? Such hydrocarbons are a direct replacement for the hydrocarbons that we obtain from petroleum.

    So, try to think outside of the box. In her case, outside of the Green orthodoxy and dogma. We can reduce petroleum (usually called oil) imports without reducing our use of oil (hydrocarbon) products.

  • Paolo Soleri

    13 Modulations
    Put the country on rail-rail freight mode.
    (Now the country is on car-truck mode)
    Paolo Soleri April 16, 2011
    Item 1
    Taming the Oil Frenzy. The adoption of the car-truck as the main, if not the only logistical devices has caused an addiction to oil that is in full development as the car-truck adoption is generating a true folly in roads- highways-superhighways and their needs in collaterals: parking, gas stations, service-repair stations, idle stations, auto sale stations, etc.
    China, India, Brazil, etc will bring the American Dream of one car per person fleet to about 7 billion rolling stock.
    The investment in brain power, in science and technology, production plants, and financial dislocations are colossal. The lame pretense that all of those are labor intensive (jobs) evokes the labor intensive Sisyphus and its victimizing by the rock returning at its geological location.
    Item 2
    Beheading the car-truck imperialism: As Item 1 speaks to the sale of gasoline-diesel feeding its thirsty engines, this dogma idolizing the car has caused the dysfunctional society in which the prime victim is the cohesiveness of the nuclear family. The car sits at the dining table with a dogmatic authority, redesigning topographies of both the home and its location. Distance is no longer measured in steps or pedaling but by car mileages on fragmented landscapes with no boundary since there is no coherent reason to bridle the voracious exhilarations on the endless asphalt ribbons.
    Item 3
    Face the gigantism of the car-truck landscape which very nature evokes the image of a dinosaur age with innocent beasts roaming the land in search of better pastures, the “planned” developments dear to land owners, speculators, banks and dollar enchantments. Gigantism is a topographic curse that will eventually deprive the living stuff, Homo sapiens included, of the resources needed for life and joy.

    Item 4
    Demythologize the hermeticism segregation and its insidious inroad in all aspects of society, taking culture into the sterile fields of self sufficiency which numberless delusions we seem to cherish. Parasitic as they are, hermits do not produce cultures, they devour them.
    Item 5
    Putting the country on rail and rail fleets is an immense reformulation of the country landscape, the restructuring of it. A source of labor for tens of thousands from all professions and skills for 10 – 15 years, a vast source of positive, constructive wealth and a real profound restructuring of infrastructures.
    Item 6
    Putting the country on rail….. is the greatest contribution to the well being of the planet because it implodes the presence and the unwise demands of the self aware Homo erectus unique faculties. Among the many the faculty of an eventual recognition of his-her ignorance paralleled by the exhilaration of co-authoring the Bing Bang “folly” of self creation.
    Item 7
    As an evolutionary modulation, on good company since from cosmic dust we come and we came, we may want to adopt the modulations frame since the more we discover and know the more we are captured by the ecstasy of wholeness and its nimbleness: not a mummified truth of theology but the smiling-frowning of trueness woven in the exasperating-exhilaration of the becoming which ancestry goes back through 14 or so eons of Mother Big Bang, an endless modulation confounding brains in their personhood. What is down and what is up and what is fate playing through our evolution….
    Item 8
    The country on rail makes a drastic reduction on the flying fleet and its networks because flights shorter than 300 km become expensive extravagance not able to compete with a 300 km per hour train going from city center to city center, all the commuting to and from the airport reduced, all the security line-ups, all delays, cancelation, etc, are dropped, the enormous fuel consumption unequaled by any other logistics is curtailed. The congestion and gridlock curtailed….
    Item 9
    The transition from rubber wheel to rail would require an auxiliary, peripheral, secondary modulation: a reticulum of logistics originating at the railroad station and delivering via public and private transportation of the traveler to their destination: walking, bicycling, taxis, vans and others, keeping in mind the drastic shortening of distance, the implosion from the car gigantism into the urban, arterial, lean continuums of the reformulated city.
    Item 10
    The political financial upheaval are hard to anticipate, the whole economy of life, not to be confused with the fictional economy of politicians and speculators, will have to be adequate to the reformulated landscape.
    Item 11
    The rail logistical power would make the Arterial Lean Linear City the “natural” complement in the Reformulation of the human and biological landscape. The biosphere “overlain” by a considerate, lean Homosphere.
    Item 12
    As a Reformulation, the country on rail…. would unavoidably produce the unexpected, that which cannot be anticipated, the real flesh of novelty, i.e. evolution in its own self creation. A modulation capital M.
    Item 13
    From car to train can use all the expertise we have. If the defense budget, the euphemism for Imperial USA budget, were to be split in one half, one half could go to car-train reformulation, a giant leap from violence to logistics.