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Thursday, June 29, 2006

No matter how hopeless, no matter how far

"We are not reinventing the wheel here. What we are doing is taking a leadership role in shifting the paradigm of the oil oligarchy's influence on our society." -- Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard
Heaven help us. Hey, Randy, how about some jail beds? Prosecution of property crime? Bridges that work? Getting around to some of that big pile of deferred maintenance on the roads? Decent training for the police? Fixing the obscene bluecoat disability system? Doing something about the Beggarland that downtown has become? You, know -- the stuff you were elected to take care of?

No time for that when you're being "visionary," I guess. Think big! You mark my words, municipal socialized medicine is next. You and Erik should get your heads together -- let's try a hostile takeover of Pfizer! Ban Wal-Mart! We're so-o-o-o-o-o-o "progressive"! Hey, so Jubitz may go out of business -- we don't care! We'll have Joe Weston put a condo tower there!

When it comes to making it difficult to run any business other than ugly real estate development, the City of Roses is truly world-class. Cutting-edge. I'm all for saving the earth, but right now Portland needs to give the whole Oligarchy Alteration Thing a timeout for a bit, while there are still a few taxpaying businesses left.

Comments (117)

It's just nasty, small-minded bureaucracy for the sake of being nasty and disruptive. It's part of the developing recipe for municipal bankruptcy around here.

These are federal, or at least state, issues. The City Council needs to stop acting like children about them and do its own job.

Big article in the NY Times about the economics of bio-diesel, Randy's most recent project. Seems there are a lot of questions about how you can make it using corn.

Randy seems to forget 2 things about bio-fuel:
1) Lower energy content = 15% lower mpg
2) Biofuel is still more expensive than gas

Say what you want about gas, but in terms of enrgy per gallon, you cannot beat it at anywheres near the price.

To the bicyclists - food is more expensive per calorie than gas.

So in one fell swoop he raises our gas price and gives us lower mpg. Is he trying to make Erik look like a Mensa candidate? Unless he got a degree in petro-checmical engineering at night I didn't hear about.

Again, the hubris of these guys is amazing. When did they think they are smarter than the free market? Passing laws does not fix everything.

Last week, I went downtown for the first time in five or six years. I was appalled at how seedy it had become. I was hit up for cash eleven times in six blocks (yes, I counted).

Thanks to the city, it now appears that downtown is only safe for panhandlers and fur protesters.

It's no wonder so many people are moving to the suburbs.

Lars is hot on the next effort and that being "municipal socialized feeding."

Big brother bringing us Free Food is not all that far away and will flow from the schools where its running now most days of the year.

Then there are all the Portland small business owners operating gas stations and the like, each with substantial personal investments into their businesses, who stand to lose much if not all under Firefighter Randy's push to reward all of their suburban competitors with new Portland customers. I know there are people here who love him for his candor, but time and time again Randy Leonard has shown that when it comes to private sector business he just doesn't get it. He's a public sector guy through and through.

Jack: thanks for posting this. I emailed literature regarding Boutique Fuels to Big Pipe for his reading pleasure. If they pass this b/s with a 5-0 vote, I'm moving to Aurora or Vancouver.

I wonder if Leonard knows that our domestic fuel consumption exceeds our domestic refining capacity, which leads us to import gasoline.
I wonder if the Venezuelans or the Canadians will be changing their fuel formulations in order to satisfy Portland. My guess is no.

Plus, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF RANDY'S BUREAU ASSIGNMENTS. You can't even connect this proposal with any of his liason functions. He must have an election coming up (or has a friend in the bio-fuels biz).

Ostensibly, if anybody at the CoP was going to regulate the refiners, it would have been Sten, whose porfolio includes Energy.

Washington State just passed their own Boutique Fuel Bill, but it's different than Portlands. There is a bill in Congress that would ban the balkanization of gas and diesel formulations, but I don't know what the odds of passage are. If nothing else, this may illustrate the problem for any foot dragging congressional centrists.

If Randy's proposal is adopted, refiners can't deliver the same formulations to Portland that they deliver to Gresham, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, or Vancouver.

Fuel prices will definitely go up, together with the cost of transporting fuels, and storing them separately from their red-headed cousins.

I hope there are shortages, and I hope that Mayor Potter gets lots of citizen input while he's waiting in the gas lines.

I have proposed for the past two years, and the council has adopted in our budget for the past two years, $1.8 million to open up closed jail beds at the justice center.

We are putting a measure on the ballot that completely overhauls the FPD&R disability system and puts new hires in the state retirement system.

The issue here is that working Portlander's are being held hostage by th price they pay for a gallon of gas at the fuel pump.

And for every unit of energy used in the production of biodiesel, 3 units of energy are produced. Biodiesel has the same amount of BTU's per unit as does petoleum diesel.

If we can change what we used to power our vehicles from products that run through Houston Texas to products grown and processed right here is Oregon I believe we have helped the average, working class Portlander immeasurably.

In the absence of a coherent national energy policy, leadership on these issues has to start at the state and local level. Does anyone really think that Congress, as it's presently constituted, or the President will take even the most marginal step in the right direction?

As an expatriate from a city that couldn't care less about environmental issues (Los Angeles), I'm glad I live in Portland, where City Council people think about these issues. It's not by accident that, when water quality, air pollution, and the like are taken into account, Portland ranks as one of the cleanest cities in the country.

At least Randy's thinking about these issues.

And, it's ironic to criticize him for taking on an issue beyond his portfolio while at the same time citing our issues with prosecution of minor crimes and jail space, both of which are a County function.

I think Randy's heart is in the right place, it is just this like other things has unexpected consequences. But Rusty's point is a good one. Without some type of balance added, it will only hurt Portland small businesses, as the cheaper alternative will be avaiable at the edge of city Boundaries. This is where I just don't understand why we don't have better City/State cooperation.

What would work is if there were an offsetting State Gas Tax credit on BioDiesel, to offset the cost differential that was calculated at the pump and the local small gas station owners were not penalized for selling it and it was the same competitive cost as the regular diesel.

I do think the role of goverment is to push us in the right direction, I remember I was involved in the automotive industry during the manditory Air Bag development era, and the cost of these radically came down once they were mandated and the became fiesable, and now most of the inital cost increase in the cars was paid back in insurance credits for air bags. The problem with new techology is that it initially costs a lot more until the supporting work is done in a competative market to lower the cost to supply it.

The problem has been this change is hard if not impossible at the federal level because of the power of the lobbyists.

Randy:If we can change what we used to power our vehicles from products that run through Houston Texas to products grown and processed right here is Oregon I believe we have helped the average, working class Portlander immeasurably.

JK: OK, I get it now - this is such a good idea the you have to FORCE people to use it.


Commissioner Leonard:

If your proposal is passed, and it results in higher fuel prices in Portland or (worse yet) gasoline shortages, would you consider rescinding the ordinance?

In the interests of informed debate, please assume that "higher fuel prices" equals fifty cents per gallon higher than Vancouver or Lake Oswego.

Alternately, do you believe we can require a special blend of fuel in Portland without forcing the refiners/distributors to incur additional costs? Do you think they will pass those additional costs on to the consumer, or just accept a lower profit in Portland

Just another in a long string of big picture schemes from a city commission(er) that seems incapable of dealing with the fundamental issues facing this local government. Heck, why do we need a congressional delegation when the Portland city council has so many solutions? Is this the long awaited opening salvo in the battle for PDX statehood?

Agricultural land that remains in the production of food rather than for ethanol production enables more exports from our region. Assuming that the ethanol is generated exclusively in Oregon what will be the measure of the reduction in exports? The IMF, when dealing with places like Argentina, gets all myopic about export oriented development, to cover . . . . debt. Randy's scheme is inefficient . . . and harmful to the exports that we so desperately need to cover debt. It will also raise generally the price of grain, domestically, with a consequent increase in the cost of food too (at least the cost of our noodles), and perhaps reduce the competitiveness of the price of our grain on the international market . . . leading to federal calls for more export subsidies. (One can imagine Bob Dole as a champion of the national plan to stimulate ethanol consumption, so as to bring home even more bacon.)

I cannot afford medical care because I cannot compete with the city's purchasing power for their designated set of beneficiaries, nor will I be able to compete once the city gives a license to a fully monopolistic pricing model for all city residents, on behalf of the owners of the hospital industry.


I still want an initiative that dedicates all parking meter revenue (from cars only) for the next twenty years to be used to pay for a set of security-camera-guarded on-street spaces (maybe even covered) that are reserved for two-wheeled things (150cc or less). Such revenue, even if previously dedicated prospectively to repave parts of our pedestrian mall to accommodate tri-met-anti-pedestrian machines, can be rededicated at will.

The CoP's participation in the FlexCar thing too can be replaced by mandatory participation in a new "non-profit" FlexPed thing; so as to reduce emissions of noxious fumes.

Randy needs to review his dialog with Erik on FlexCar and apply it to the arbitrary pro-consumption-of-ethanol scheme. Alternatively, reserve 30 percent of the current parking meter spaces for two-wheelers so as to fight oil, and to spare pedestrians from some of the risk of catastrophic injury. How about reducing fuel use by the city, from any source, by 30 percent even if some staff must hop on modeps? (Lower transportation costs for the employee could translate to lower pay, just as cheap food enabled farm laborers to move to industrializing cities. Such classic "development" reasoning might seem odd to our pro-spending-too-assure-profitablity appologist regional economists that play only with other-people's-money.) (more)

[For a simple micro-economic representation of the gains from home price speculation in the context of ever-higher well-intentioned tax burdens upon the poor (for their own good) go see the House of Sand and Fog. For each person who benefits from the loyalty gifts to our modern Nobles (in a zero sum game of wealth transfer, or "resource allocation") there will be one or more people or families that have a reduced sense of security (bottom rung on Maslow's hierarchy).]

'"We are not reinventing the wheel here. What we are doing is taking a leadership role in shifting the paradigm of the oil oligarchy's influence on our society." -- Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard'

Has anyone told these morons THIS IS NOT YOUR JOB!!!! Your job is to run the city (something you're proving poor at) and leave the social engineering to others. Maybe when you have proven you can run the city, you can try the social engineering stuff. Based on that we have nothing to worry about as none of those on the commission has a clue!


Even if bio-diesel is a winner, and if the proposed plants under the St John's Bridge and elsewhere pan out (crossing my fingers), corn-based ethanol is a huge - no, make that gargantuan - loser. Also, as JK notes, if it's such a good idea, we shouldn't have to force the market.

Portland is sufficiently progressive to embrace biofuels when they make sense. But ethanol is an environmental net negative. It doesn't decrease our oil consumption and only adds a layer of processing (farming) to the cycle, which drives up cost.

I'm all about local production and consumption (like food being close to the table), but the market will not function properly when a municipality starts throwing requirements on it that amount to sand in the cogs. It will not work properly. I know it's politically tasty, but so are the flag-burning and no-gay-marriage amendments, and I'm guessing that you're not keen on them.

This is a wickedly bad idea. Wicked in the Boston sense, not the evildoer sense. Portland will pay dearly for this if you continue with it.

Please, for the love of everything you deem holy, don't do it!

What would work is if there were an offsetting State Gas Tax credit on BioDiesel,

Sorry, but more government subsidies is not the answer.

The truth is, biofuel costs more to produce, and takes more of it to get the same power. (With ethanol anyway, not sure about biodiesel.)

And, not all engines can run biofuels without modifications. Who's going to pay for that?

Even with 10% ethanol, most cars run into problems with seals & fuel filters failing prematurely. Is the city of Portland going to repair my fuel system too?

I can also see a noticeable decline in performance in my two cars when running ethanol-blended gas during the winter. I dont see that as my cars running "better".

I'm all about local production and consumption (like food being close to the table),

Damn straight! Lets build an oil refinery in Oregon. That will help for sure.

It's hard for me to believe that the Portland City Council has the legal authority to do this. Where is the city charter does it get the power to outlaw the sale of unblended gasoline within the city limits?

I've asked that question many times. The answer seems to be that the charter does not tell them that they can't.

To the bicyclists - food is more expensive per calorie than gas.


Wake me when I gain another 3,500 lbs.

I think if the city wishes to take real initiative to discourage dependence on foreign energy sources they should begin by banning SOV's downtown, at least during rush hours. There's not enough biomass in all of North America to both feed our bodies and fuel our society's insatiable appetite for driving. Blended or even fully bio-based fuels is a step, but doesn't change anything in the long term.

Reducing consumption by getting people out of cars is the only solution.

Yes, yes, yes! Clay is right. Randy's incrementalist approach will do nothing to curb greenhouse gassing.

We should ban SUVs and pick-up trucks from Portland. Or pass an ordinance that says you can't drive one downtown without feeling very, very guilty.

And there should be a "turn in your SUV" program (like the one they did for guns). You can exchange your SUV for a city subsidized Toyota Pious or other hybrid, no questions asked.

And "NO War for Oil" bumperstickers should be applied to all City owned vehicles, except for the Portland Police Bureau SUV's because that would be too ironic.


There are so many problems and contradictions with this proposal that I urge you to reconsider your position.

This proposal could have been taken right out of the George Bush playbook--promote something that, on its face, looks like a progressive, environmentally sound policy, but really lines the pockets of large corporate interests (in this case, companies like ADM which produce the bulk of ethanol) and does not reduce our dependence on foreign oil (some studies suggest it takes more oil to produce corn based ethanol than the energy it replaces).

1) You write above about switching from products produced in "Houston Texas" to ones producted in Oregon.

First, don't we get most of our oil and gas from pipelines that run only along the West Coast? Isn't this exactly what shielded us from the price increases after Katrina?

Second, isn't most most ethanol in this country is produced in the Midwest, by large conglomerates. Do you have any evidence that this switch will spark ethanol production in Oregon?

Or are you simply taking advantage of Oregonians anti-Southern and lingering anti-Enron sentiments? What do you have against Houston, except that it isn't Oregon? Would you feel similarly if Texas politicians fanned "anti-Oregon" sentiments?

2) You say this will shift the "paradigm of the oil oligarchy". To what? The paradigm of a large agricultural oligarchy?

3) You argue that this switch will help "working class Portlanders." I don't see how this can possibly be true. Working class Portlanders don't grow corn and they don't work in the factories located nearby that produce ethanol. Working class Oregonians will pay higher prices at the pump as a consequence of this policy.

4) Most importantly, is this even environmentally sound? There is strong debate right now over the energy efficiency of corn-based ethanol.

Swithing the city vehicles over the BIOdiesel (not ethanol), where feasible, is a good idea. Mandating a city wide switch to corn based ethanol is a bad idea environmentally and economically.

Bottom line is Randy has his heart in the right place, but the executing the idea may have other unintended results. However, I don't think this out of our municipal scope at all. Some cities ban certain types of brakes on big rigs within city limits... I believe some areas in the midwest require various fuel mixtures during the winter, yeah?

If this is about about taking on Big Oil, it's overstepping his bounds, but doing for the sake of Portlanders and the air we breathe is fully within his scope.

I dont think a tax credit to offset fuel prices would do much to solve the problem. The biggest reason being that commercial vehicles (which I would imagine to be the biggest potential users of bio-fuel) over 26,000 dont pay a state gas tax, they pay a weight mile tax.

I think city regulation of fuel content may very well be pre-empted by state law. Here, for example, is ORS 468A.355:

Legislative findings. For purposes of ORS 468A.350 to 468A.400, the Legislative Assembly finds:

(1) That the emission of pollutants from motor vehicles is a significant cause of air pollution in many portions of this state.

(2) That the control and elimination of such pollutants are of prime importance for the protection and preservation of the public health, safety and well-being and for the prevention of irritation to the senses, interference with visibility, and damage to vegetation and property.

(3) That the state has a responsibility to establish procedures for compliance with standards which control or eliminate such pollutants. [Emphasis added.]

(4) That the Oregon goal for pure air quality is the achievement of an atmosphere with no detectable adverse effect from motor vehicle air pollution on health, safety, welfare and the quality of life and property..

We already have an oxygenated gasoline requirement in the Portland region, but it's imposed by state law and implemented by the state DEQ. I don't think Oregon cities have free rein to go their separate ways on this.

Oh yeah,

As for RL using the phrase "The issue here is that working Portlander's are being held hostage by th price they pay for..." I guess we can all fill in the end of that sentence - and I doubt fuel prices would be at the top of the list.

The inmates are running the asylum. Again. Still. I don't care if Randy's heart is in the right place, as he can do that on his own time. He needs to simply DO HIS JOB and run the bureaus that he has been assigned.

There are more local problems that I can put in a list short enough to fit on this blog, yet those are never addressed. Portland can look forward to being another "big city" riddled with the problems of big cities: homelessness, drug dealers, pan handlers, crime, poor schools, carjacking, lack of police and on and on.

Save yourself!

I have no doubt that Fireman Randy's heart is in the right place.

It's the location of his head that is the more troubling. As noted in Wikipedia:

Some nations and regions that have pondered transitioning fully to biofuels have found that doing so would require immense tracts of land if traditional crops are used. Considering only traditional plants and analyzing the amount of biodiesel that can be produced per unit area of cultivated land, some have concluded that it is likely that the United States, with one of the highest per capita energy demands of any country, does not have enough arable land to fuel all of the nation's vehicles. Other developed and developing nations may be in better situations, although many regions cannot afford to divert land away from food production. For third world countries, biodiesel sources that use marginal land could make more sense, e.g. honge nuts [4] grown along roads.

While Randy's not proposing to have anyplace in the country other than Portland conform to his standards, two things emerge with clarity: (1) biodiesel is not especially cost effective and (2) the resources required to implement his daydream would essentially require that the entire state be relegated to third-world country status.

the entire state be relegated to third-world country status.

In some portions of the state, that would be an upgrade.

If Randy and city hall was truly interested in energy savings, then the answer isn't in changing the type of gasoline we use... it's doing away with the idea that we all need to leave our homes every day and go to another location to perform many functions that can be done from home with a computer and a broadband connection.

At my company, I would hazard to say that 3/4 of the company could do their jobs from home. Sure, you would probably commute into the office for a meeting once or twice a week but just think of the energy savings (plus the reduction in traffic congestion) if people were not tied to the old paradigm of driving to work every day.

Of course, the managers hate this idea because then they don't have people to "manage."

So Randy, if you really want to change things, ask your city bureaus how many people do they really need to "physically" be at a desk in front of a computer in an office in a building downtown? Couldn't they just stay home (and off the roads) and sit in front of a computer there? If not five days a week, how about 2 days a week...heck even 1 day a week. Ever notice how much better traffic is one holidays that the city and feds take off but the rest of us don't.

Randy Leonard: And for every unit of energy used in the production of biodiesel, 3 units of energy are produced. Biodiesel has the same amount of BTU's per unit as does petoleum diesel.

I noticed you don't mention that ethanol contains 30% less energy per gallon than gas, but yet it costs the same or more. (Even after the government subsidies.) So not only are we paying more at the pump, we are paying through our federal and state taxes to produce the ethanol. I don't have access to all the data but the subsides are a minimum of $0.51/gallon, but probably total closer to $1.00/gallon. Biodiesel may make sense, but leave the ethanol out of it.

Why should we pay more for our gas, so we can go fewer miles? (And yet there is no evidence that it improves air quality.)

Show me the hegemony.

The hits just keep coming!

Commissioner Leonard has designated the Bureau of Development Services to be the agency responsible for enforcement of the Biodiesel/Ethanol Mandate.

Sure, they just do building permits and zoning compliance under current law, but they'll be able to manage petroleum engineering, supply/demand monitoring, and enforcement without any problem.
What could possibly go wrong?

Here's the description of their current mandate (from PortlandOnline.com)

Bureau of Development Services reviews, issues, and inspects building permits, performs land use reviews, and promotes compliance with the zoning and state adopted construction codes.

What's the enforcement budget, Randy?


If ethanol isn't cheaper than gasoline, even after subsidies, it's because gasoline is also (needlessly) subsidized... economies of scale give it the edge. That system is broke, but don't tell Congress, as they have campaigns to fund and issues to sidestep. Wouldn't want to anger Voltron, er, ExxonMobilTexicoSunocoShell...

Do the readers here support subsidizing Big Oil? Where are the free marketers now?

"Commissioner Leonard has designated the Bureau of Development Services to be the agency responsible for enforcement of the Biodiesel/Ethanol Mandate."

Why is it they can't understand that if it was something everyone wanted....a.) you wouldn't have to mandate it.....and b.) If you don't have to mandate it it, there's no enforcement involved.....

I guess when you become a politician you check your common sense at the door?

Most area against subsidies of any sort, TKrueg. However, whatever point you're trying to make is immaterial. Subsidizing pertroleum is a federal issue and beyond the scope of this discussion.

Jack's original post reffers the overzealous regulations coming out of city hall, not Washington D.C.


Glad to see the true believers (and Britcom watchers) aren't fazed by market realities or encumbered by facts or logic.
Wonderful, insightful rhetoric.
What's a Texico?

Ricky- Ok, so it's Texaco. But what exactly do you disagree with? What rhetoric? Is it the obvious point that gasoline enjoys an economies of scale advantage? I'm hoping you're not dim enough to challenge that. Or that our gas prices are artificially fixed at a lower price per gallon/litre than most other countries? Again, not rhetoric. Finally, was it my comment that our elected officials only challenge big business when it's popular, so as not to endanger their campaign contributions? Gee, I must have missed something...

Chris M- I realize this is a topic with a local twist, but Michael was citing price issues/reasons. When you go there, you have to look at the whole market.

First things first. Science arguments don't matter if the city is constitutionally prohibited from enacting laws about gasoline content.

There seem to be both state and federal preemption issues. The state has obviously addressed the issue. Have they also expressly allowed some gasoline content regulation by municipalities? Does the city think state regulation on the matter is so thin the state hasn't occupied the field?

What have the feds done about this issue? They can do as they wish on gasoline regulation or they can punt to the states, or both in some measure. Probably safe to say they've punted expressly via EPA via Congress but does that punt speak to municipality regulation?

Anyone have knowledge of the facts behind gasoline content regulation authority? That would be much more germane at this point than debating Monsanto corn subsidies v. the Cretaceous Era.

Whatever the current status of state and federal preemption on gasoline content regulation, I'd bet Emily Boyles' dollars to Voodoo Donuts that the City hasn't even researched this, let alone come to a conclusion that they can regulate gasoline content.

Meanwhile they bloviate about issues they likely can't touch.

There are only two differences between the price of oil sold in the U.S. and the price of oil in Europe: delivery location and grade (how "good" it is, sweet/sour, light/heavy etc.).

If you've got $73 and a barrel to put it in, just about everybody pays the same price for the same grade of oil (granted, there is a minimum order size, and hardly anybody transports it in barrels anymore). In fact the Europeans have had an advantage of late, because the U.S. Dollar was depreciating against the Euro.

There are transportation and refining costs on top of that, which varies depending on where you're transporting/refining it (and how many additives are required to call it "gasoline" and meet regulatory standards). Diesel is actually much cheaper to refine, but limited distribution props the price up. A similar supply/demand scarcity will likely result from Commissioner Leonard's Boutique Fuel recipe: a new and exciting way to screw Portland's consumers! We're lucky that PGE doesn't refine gasoline, cause you just know that Randy would say the holes in his logic were all THEIR fault.

The biggest single component of the price that Europeans pay for gasoline is TAXES, not the actual oil required to produce the gasoline. Norway, in fact, charges $7/gallon, despite being the largest producer in Western Europe, and 3rd largest exporter (just ahead of IRAN) in the World. The Norwegians discourage domestic consumption to increase the volume available for export. Their cost of extracting oil is still below $10/barrel, though it has been rising.

If Randy Leonard and the BTA had their way, I'm sure we'd all be paying $7/gallon for gas, and cyclists would have the right lane dedicated to their exclusive use.

Also: according to a study my wife found (University of California Berkeley), only 5 to 26 percent of the energy in todays corn-based ethanol is "new". The other 74-to-95 percent represents the recycling of fossil-fuel energy to produce ethanol.

Corn is a very resource intensive crop (water, fertilizer, pesticides, harvesting and transportation), and then you still have to convert it to white lightning. But don't try and negotiate with Commissioner Leonard, he's got his mind made up, and all those stubborn facts were probably sponsored by the oil industry.

Fur coats are bad, just like PGE, the FBI, and anybody at the PDC who isn't kissing his ass.

Careful kids, there's a Randy Leonard shill in the audience (coincidentally, he posted six minutes after Commissioner Leonard, above). Heck, for all we know, he helped draft the ordinance.

Mr. Will Aitchison is the author of The Rights of Law Enforcement Officers (Fourth Edition), The Rights of Firefighters (Third Edition), Model Law Enforcement Contract: A Labor Perspective (Third Edition), A Model Firefighters Contract: A Labor Perspective, FLSA: A User's Manual, Interest Arbitration (Second Edition), and Understanding the FMLA.

Or maybe, they are just of a single mind on this issue. You wouldn't think anybody would try and curry favor with a City Commissioner, do you?

"That would be much more germane at this point than debating Monsanto corn subsidies v. the Cretaceous Era." I think that by the time of the Cretaceous most of todays fossil fuel was already in place having been formed many, many millions of years before during the Carboniferous period when all real estate was swampland. Take billions of tons of decaying organic matter overlaid by millions of years of geological processes of extreme pressure and heat to produce a resource that we started using around the time of the industrial revolution and will probably finish off within our life time. In other words if it took the Earth all that time to produce a limited resource that we have used up in about 150 years I don't believe that we can 'grow our way' to energy independence with corn,grass,beets,etc. even if we planted every square inch of the entire midwest. If Randy Leonard thinks we can do this on a local level when we can't even manage a school lunch program then I'd suggest he needs to have either is head or his urine carefully examined.

"shifting the paradigm"

Why is that every time I hear that cliche I can look forward to endless feasablility studies and little action.
Oh and by the way Randy's reasoning of 1 unit of energy of biodsel production creating 3 units of energy is a little off. Such production yields of that high value have really only been created in a smaller scale in lab facilities. Its a kinda a best case scenario. Larger biodiesel production has yielded less plentiful results. Im not trying to poo poo biodiesel, but expecting to establish a "shifting the paradigm"
based on best case scenario is kinda wishful thinking. I think biodiesel has a great future but lets not the cart before the horse. I wonder how long to till our city council follows San Fran and passes a resolution recognizing "peak oil" ?? remember a $15mm tram was a best case scenario.

Randy doesn't have to think 150 years ahead. The next election is much sooner than that.

(in your best Frontline Narrator voice)
Commissioner Leonard took on Big Oil when he wrote Portland's clean fuel ordinanceb>

Commissioner Leonard TOLD the fur coat and fois gras peddlers leave town!

Commissioner Leonard buys ORAGANIC fruits and veggies, and he NEVER shops at Wal-Mart.

Commissioner Leonard owns two bikes, and he frequently rides them BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.

This ad paid for with with BIOFUEL BUDDY DOLLARS (so I didn't have to collect all those damned $5 dollar bills, ERIK)!

Can a lawyer in the house explain what the difference would be if the relevant ORS said the state had "the" responsiblity instead of "a" responsibity to establish procedures for compliance with standards which control or eliminate such pollutants?

Clay Fouts: Reducing consumption by getting people out of cars is the only solution.

JK: No it isn't.
We have plenty of coal to make gasolene from.
Canada has more oil in tar sands than Saudi Arabia
If things get really rough we can make gas from hydrogen and carbon with nuclear power.
And there are other ways to move a SUV:
Natual gas


Umm. I suppose I am probably missing something here, but won't an ordinance like this result in price increases due to limited supply? Is there enough local biodiesel production capacity to meet this level of demand? If the biodiesel supply is short, do stations that can't get the right mix have to stop selling petrodiesel? Please tell me all this has been taken into account.

Anyway, I agree that the use of biodiesel is a good way to reduce dependence on imported oil. Worthy goal. But attacking the problem from the demand end doesn't seem like a good idea. Increased demand for biodiesel is going to take care of itself as global petrol supplies tighten. Pushing the local demand is an expensive short-term measure with little long-term benefit.

If Portland wants to encourage the use of biodiesel, it should be working on developing the supply end. Obviously the city doesn't support a lot of arable land, so y'all can't exactly turn the South Waterfront into a canola field and get worthwhile results. But river transport of oil crops from throughout the region to Portland is relatively easy, so Portland is a natural place to create a regional biodiesel refining hub.

The city could target levels of biodiesel refining capacty it wants to achieve in 10, 20, and 50 years. The P-goshdarn-DC could get together with the Port and private enterprise to spend development money on biodiesel industrial infrastructure instead of condo towers to meet these targets. I'd suggest the 50-year refinery capacity target be large enough to allow the region to be 80%+ independent of petrodiesel. This is big, long-term spending I'm talking about, but if/when pertrodiesel becomes prohibitively expensive, Portland would be well insulated from the economic upheaval.

(Although I have only talked about biodiesel, the same logic applies to ethanol. I personally think biodiesel is a better bet for us, so I focused on just that.)

Could an Oregon city decide that gas stations had to have two attendants to pump your gas? I doubt it. This may fall into the same category.

Randy's ordinance will result in higher gas prices, if history is any guide. But that will give him something to investigate down the road, and keep his name in the papers.

Why not go all the way, and pass a new city "Polluter's Permit" for all gas guzzlers? You can't call it a vehicle license, because I'm pretty certain the State has sole dominion over license plates. But you could have a punitive tax on anybody above "x cubic inches" of engine displacement? The BTA Nazis would love it, and it might even help the local car dealers (if they can figure out what to do with those low mileage trade-ins)...

All we are asking, is give Socialism a chance.

The problem is within the judiciary. The catcall of "judicial activism" is sufficient to flip the inquiry from a single affected individual to that of a judge demanding that an objector explain why it is that they alone should be able to obtain a remedy based only on an offering of nothing more than an alternative, plausible, policy choice.


(Conclusion:) I would demand that the Oregon Investment Council research and release all their current and prospective positions in entities that in someway relate to the alternative fuels business nationwide and to retail fuel outlets in Oregon, with particular emphasis on the Portland Metro area.

Jack's citation of Oregon Statute regarding fuel mixtures relate to environmental considerations. On the advice of council, our proposed requirement avoids tying this initiative to environmental considerations.

It is definitely within the city's responsibility to assure that Portlanders enjoy the benefits of a free market when they fuel their vehicles which is, in my opinion along with Senator Ron Wyden, anathema to the oil industry.

Requiring the inclusion of biodiesel at the pump opens the oil market to a brand new set of players. The biodiesel industry is not centered in high rises in downtown Houston, Texas. Instead, it will be the eastern Oregon farmers who will benefit most from this mandate.

I say its about damn time.

I believe the US, and if it as an entity is unwilling to do so then its constituent parts, needs to use every strategy available to break the lock petroleum addiction has over our society.

You may not like me sticking my nose inside the tent of big oil, but I don't like reading of our kids dying in Iraq so the US can assure it's flow of cheap crude.

So now we know it's all about politics.

Randy won't address the substantive concerns expressed by many (including the people who actually have to comply with this ordinance), nor will he address the many valid concerns expressed in this blog.

Instead, he wants you to believe that his anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-oil company credentials make this ordinance a good idea. Because he said so.

Is this what a Democracy looks like?

Randy Leonard needs to be able to express something other then righteous indignation his 'Angry Man' act is going stale.

Good one, Randy. I guess you haven't noticed oil prices are pretty much HIGHER THAN EVER!!

So much for your "going to war for cheap crude" argument.

"eastern Oregon farmers"

But Randy, the Federal Commerce Clause unequivocally prevents you from mandating, or otherwise assuring, that the private retail fuel outlets buy directly from this designated group. Review why it is that Arlington must accept trash from Washington, for legal clarification.

I took Ag Econ in undergrad and your assertion of attending to their interests is just plain odd. You cannot assure, directly in your ordinance, that they benefit nor can you explain why non-Portland residents have become part of your overt constituency.

"benefits of a free market "

Suppose diary operation X were located on the periphery of the city limits. Would you consider it an advancement of the free market to mandate that all milk sold within the city of Portland must originate within 20 miles of the city limits. Perhaps you could say that you wish to be able to have local milk inspectors access the sites conveniently and 21 miles is inconvenient, even if diary operation Y is exactly 21 miles away.

You must have heard the Foster Farms chicken adds, you know, fresh not frozen. You could try to save them a whole lot of advertising cost with a simple ordinance, to support the "free market."

The International Trade Commission spends lots of time trying to expose all sorts of regulations that are nothing more than disguised anti-free-trade measures such as that which you propose. You have your definition upsidedown.

Mr. Warner must surely have an elementary exposure to the notion of agricultural cooperatives, like the Pendleton Grain Growers. If not, "heaven help us." They, together with other cooperatives, could themselves establish a certification, tracking, advertising and quality control group that targets an "Oregon Grown" theme that mimics the Washington Apple label.

Then you could have an ordinance the required "transparency" of origins of the fuel that is drafted sufficiently narrowly to assure that such a "Oregon Grown" label gets pasted to the fuel pumps. For the city's own purchases of fuel, where you are using your more liberal purchasing power, you could require the such a label be pasted to the pump as a precondition for the purchase.

If your ultimate goal is that of anti-oil more generally and your concern is broader than the boundary of Portland's city limits then participating in such a labeling scheme would enable other jurisdictions throughout the state to follow along. Indeed, the label could instead be that of "NW Grown" and include OR, WA, ID and MT to encompass the bulk of the territory that makes use of Portland/Vancouver as their port for international sales of grain. Your idea could then spread far and wide in the NW, with less legal controversy and with greater aggregate total impact.

It would then conform with the notion of consumer sovereignty.

Commissioner Leonard writes:

It is definitely within the city's responsibility to assure that Portlanders enjoy the benefits of a free market when they fuel their vehicles which is, in my opinion along with Senator Ron Wyden, anathema to the oil industry.

The City Council has to mandate bio-fuels in order to protect the free market?

Huh? Would you like to rephrase that, Commissioner Leonard.


You've already made it clear that you believe global warming is a political hoax and seem to have little regard for the environment decimation that our energy gluttony forces onto the rest of the world, so I won't waste time approaching your point from that angle.

That said, how do you propose we pay for all of these alternate forms of energy? Tar sands, coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar... all of these have substantially lower EROEI than what we currently use to power our little carbubbles. Tar sands net only somewhere between 10-20% of the energy of crude oil. Each step of processing (i.e. using nuclear energy or natural gas to drive refinement) loses even more energy. The consequence of this is a substantially higher cost of production along every step of the process, down to the end-user.

I've seen you comment about how you think dense development discriminates against the poor. If the poor and middle class are truly a concern of yours, guiding urban development that enables people to remain mobile with minimal energy demands should be of paramount interest. The energy glut of the 20th century that made possible a thriving, car-dependent suburbia is coming to a close. One result of that is that it's going to make the poor even poorer. Enabling people to get to work, to get to the grocery, to get to school, to get to 90% of the places they need to go by foot, bicycle, or some other human-powered means is the only sustainable option for maintaining a middle class.


But unless Randy's point is to make Portland fuel purchases ridiculously expensive so as to foster more conservation (assuming people wouldn't simply drive to Beaverton, etc.) this proposal makes no sense.

Specifically with ethanol, it is a net negative. OK, we stifle Houston's profits at the pump, but they get theirs through the petroleum used to produce the dang corn for the ethanol. Portlanders get screwed for no reason whatsoever other than to allow Randy to feel good about sticking it to the man, who isn't getting "stuck" anyway. It's completely irresponsible to tinker with the market, something Randy OBVIOUSLY knows nothing about. Now, I've supported you Randy on a lot of things. I admire your tenacity, but this scheme is a dog and I think that most people are with me on that. Clay excepted, of course.


Oh don't except me from that company, at least not completely. I think this mostly looks like hand-flapping. Ethanol is a net energy loser, even if it sounds sustainable on the surface.

Biodiesel is a different story since it does have the ability to put a (small) dent in total petrol consumption. However, I think it'd be politically easier to have a program to fund putting it in even more TriMet buses. Of course, then those folks who can't see farther into the future than their hands can grab would squawk about how TriMet was being "subsidized" even more.

This would have a secondary effect of stimulating an increase in the scale of biodiesel production, making it even more price-competitive with petrol diesel, thereby lowering another barrier that suppresses demand in the consumer market.

Clay, spare us the Smart Growth and Sustainability propaganda. The more expensive petroleum-based fuel becomes, the less likely it'll be used as a fuel source. Some other means of powering the automobile will then become available.

If Randy really wanted to help alternative fuels, he should lobby private bankers to invest in the technology. Forcing Portland gas stations into selling biofuels will only drive consumers to the burbs for their gas, and put station owners out of business.

And Clay, the car is never, NEVER going away -- as much as you might wish it would. People enjoy the freedom and convenience a car provides. And forcing the lower and middle class in to tenements (smart growthers call them "urban centers") will only exacerbate the division between rich and poor.

Some other means of powering the automobile will then become available.

Unless you have some incredible technology you're sitting on in your basement, I'll file this under "But Daddy will save us!".

C'mon Clay: we've already built electric cars and (at much greater expense) fuelcell powered vehicles. They just couldn't compete with the convenience and low cost of gasoline at $1.20 per gallon.

In twenty years, gasoline powered vehicles will likely have gone the way of the dinosaurs. But the BTA and "anti-car" lobby are kidding themselves to suggest cars are going away.

The fuel/motors are likely to change, but personal transportation will remain available to those who are unwilling to take mass transit.

We did NOT elect Commissioner Leonard to help the farmers of Eastern Oregon.

We did NOT elect Commissioner Leonard to wage symbolic battles against Big Oil.

We did NOT elect Commissioner Leonard to propose new Boutique Fuel mandates.

We did NOT elect Commissioner Leonard to supervise/replace the FBI, the EPA, the DOE, or the DEQ.

The Boutique Fuel Ordinance will increase the cost of fuel on everybody who fills up in the City of Portland.

Pave the streets, arrest the criminals, put out the fires, and maintain/improve our water/sewer/parks infrastructure.

Hey, I've got an idea: how about Commissioner Leonard tell us how he's going to comply with the EPA's Clean Water Surface Regulations, rather than trying to force others to meet his BFO regulations.

It's already happening Clay:

"Automakers have invested billions of dollars developing diverse autos that run on alternative fuels like clean diesel, biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, and compressed natural gas (CNG), or that run on hybrid technology. There are already 8 million automobiles that are capable of running on alternative fuels on America's roads today."


Alternative fuel cars are already becoming popular -- because of the free market, not because of Randy Leonard-style socialist mandates.

Seems to me you don't want to face the fact your beloved density/sustainability religion is fatally flawed.

"clean" diesel: dwindling supply, contributes to global warming, requires constant warfare to secure

biodiesel: not enough of it

ethanol: net energy loser, not enough of it anyway

hydrogen: is for energy storage, not an energy source

CNG: plentiful, but contributes to global warming, and complexities of portability and distribution make it expensive, moreso as petrol becomes rarer

hybrid/electric: where exactly are we going to get all of that electricity?

Seems to me you don't want to face the fact that the wasteful, energy-sucking cult of auto transportation is going the way of its dinosaur fuel.

I really would have enjoyed a healthy, respectful debate on this subject.

Unfortunately, it has been made clear to me that this is not the forum to have that discussion in.

I wasn't going to tease Randy about the pink shirt he was wearing today, but now it seems pertinent.

C'mon, Randy: we promise not to call you any names.

Well, Mr. D, I think you just did.

Two things to add to Clay's list since he seems a little outgunned here... (and yes, I realize this has less to do with our city's endeavors)

-According to the Department of Energy:
"Fossil fuels --coal, oil and natural gas -- currently provide more than 85% of all the energy consumed in the United States, nearly two-thirds of our electricity, and virtually all of our transportation fuels. Moreover, it is likely that the nation's reliance on fossil fuels to power an expanding economy will actually increase over at least the next two decades even with aggressive development and deployment of new renewable and nuclear technologies."

Yes, that's right... 2/3 of our electricity and 85% of all energy is generated by fossil fuels. Most new plants are natural gas-fired. Now, think about all the unique compounds and materials that are produced with fossil fuels. Do you realize how susceptible our economy is to the market spikes and volatility of these sources in the (near) future?? There are so many scenarios, catasrophic/terrorist or not, that could start the line of dominos...

-Two, it baffles me that folks here think that when the market dives and fuel becomes scarce, we can just 'flip a switch' and the whole world can just change over to other technologies. If you're that naive, I suggest you work in the real world. Or at least visit once in awhile.

It takes 20-ish years to get a nucular power plant online... they haven't even figured out if Yucca Mt. can even handle the waste we've got in store for it. Think of the years of legal wrangling needed to force the NIMBYs to allow one nearby.

Think of all the military machinery, ag machinery, motor pools and vehicle fleets... the sudden rush to convert, the sudden capitol outlay required not just here in the U.S., but worldwide. Third world nations will be the last to change over, and likely the first to see famine. This is a problem that has to be addressed now, and unfortunately, the free market can't save this one. It is also unfortunate that the government will need to play a major role in making a gradual change.

People, this isn't propoganda, it's just the way it is. You wanna be a stubborn conservative, fine, but this isn't a partisan issue. Or it shouldn't be, anyway. The finite amount of earth's oil isn't just some business sector you read about in Barrons... it's the foundation of our world's economy. Is that right? All our eggs... in one basket?

FYI, Rogue Pundit did an article on per-acre yields from various oil crops. It makes for a good reality check: 10,000 miles per year in a 25 MPG diesel vehicle needs three to four acres of annual rapeseed production to fuel it... not counting fuel used in production or transport.


We've got at least another 200-300 years worth of coal deposits in the United states. Geology suggests we should find sufficient new deposits of natural gas to provide for future trucking, mass transit, and railroad requirements. We will have to drill more holes in the Rockies, the oceans, and Alaska.

Gas and diesel will eventually go away. They are unlikely to be replaced by ethanol or biodiesel (at least in large quantities). Personal use vehicles will be electric or some kind of natural gas or fuel cell hybrid.

Nuclear power is likely the best source of electricity (at least based on current technology), but if the liberals/NIMBYs won't let you build nukes, then coal wins.

We could see further stratification between "rich" and developing countries: the U.S. and most of Europe/Asia are likely to mitigate these changes while the Islamicists, the Africans, and many in Latin America (Brazil/Argentina/Chile excluded) actually devolve. I wonder what Saudi Arabia will look like when the oil is all gone? A much smaller U.S. military presence, certainly. 11th Century anyone?

Which is a roundabout way of saying that free market solutions are well on their way, you just haven't been paying much attention. Read more about Fuelcell (FCEL) or Ballard Power (BLDP), both of which are publicly traded securities.

Taking the "Chair Linn" approach to "do what's right" is political grandstanding and a blatant abuse of whatever bully pulpit Commissioner Leonard occupies. His Bio Fuels Ordinance (BFO) will do nothing to stop global warming, the oil oligarchy, or Republicans who drive SUVs. He is likely to offend as many people as he informs.

Portland's consumption of all sources of energy is just a couple of drops in the 55 gallon drum that is the United States: it is naive and self-indulgent to think 5 percent of this or 10 percent of that will do anything more than get Randy some free publicity. The only benefit I can imagine is to foster the ongoing debate between those who demand ACTION (no matter how ineffective), and those who feel victimized by politicians (Bush/Leonard representing different sides of the same coin) who will continue to exploit our "addiction to oil" for their own political purpose.

Why is it they can't understand that if it was something everyone wanted...you wouldn't have to mandate it...

Because they dont care. Thats how Socialists work.

Randy knows whats best for you...

Unfortunately, it has been made clear to me that this is not the forum to have that discussion in.

Right, Randy, go on over to Blue Oregon, where all the Stennies will tell you what a hero you are. I believe Jennifer W. hit it right on the head: That's what this is all about, courting the "progressive" vote on a subject over which you have no jurisdiction. Have you got Mark Wiener on your payroll already?

When you're done with biodiesel, here are some other suggestions that are sure to court the Bus kids:

Legalize gay marriage.

Increase the federal estate tax rates.

Declare a 100% "windfall profits tax" on the gross receipts of Comcast.

Send Water Bureau workers to Darfur to fight genocide squads.

Issue an exclusion order against Karen Minnis.

Ban the killing of baby harp seals.

Order troops home from Iraq.

Oh, and don't forget the part about how "misinformed" we all are. Maybe you could have Mark Bunster over at the Fire Bureau get that one up on the wire Wednesday morning, on company time.

Why not go all the way, and pass a new city "Polluter's Permit" for all gas guzzlers? You can't call it a vehicle license, because I'm pretty certain the State has sole dominion over license plates. But you could have a punitive tax on anybody above "x cubic inches" of engine displacement?

Please, dont tempt them....the European governments have been doing that for many years.
And you know how bad they want to copy the Euros.

Didnt someone recently proclaim with great joy that Portland is increasingly similar to Euro cities?

On the advice of council, our proposed requirement avoids tying this initiative to environmental considerations.

You think that takes care of your legal problems with this? You need a better lawyer.

Why not ask the state attorney general's office for an opinion? I'm sure Kate Brown or the head of the DEQ would be glad to request one for you. In addition to pre-emption by state or federal law, be sure to ask about the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

There may be a way to do what you're trying to do, just as there may be a way to do "clean money" right. But the odds of Portland City Hall hitting that target are 100,000 to 1 against.

Aw, what the hey, it will make for a good sound bite at Candidates Gone Wild and the AFSCME convention. Let's waste some more time and taxpayer money.

you could have a punitive tax on anybody above "x cubic inches" of engine displacement

With all our subsidies of Flexcar, a private company controlled by a very rich guy (and run locally by an Original Friend Of Neil, so hey...), we've already decided that the very act of owning a car, of any size, is something that the City of Portland ought to discourage. And all the Stennies bleat, baaaaaaaaaa...


200-300 yrs worth of coal? Based on what study? Based on what usage? Hopefully they factored in a sudden demand-shift and permanent shortage at some point, not present day usage. How do they know when a different fuel source 'falls off', and how could they predict what that does to other fuel markets? Leaves a lot to chance since the fuel markets are literally the blood of the entire world market...

The reason the government has to trump the free market in this case is simply no different than the role Bernake and the Fed serve. No less important than the SEC regulating and overseeing the financial industry. You want another Great Depression? I don't, and unfortunately the Dept of Energy needs to play a bigger role in nudging the market sooner, rather than later. What do we have to lose if we siphon off just 2% of the Defence budget pork to seed the market? Or do you believe we can win the War on Terror with just a few more aircraft carriers? Your tax dollars at work... somewhere in the South with an abundance of defense contractors.

Personally, if Americans truly don't give a sh*t about our debt and increasing/record budget pork on Bush's watch (which it seems), then let's do everything we can to get some of that gravy back here in the NW. If that means we should become a biodiesel center, so be it, if the market indeeds need to go that direction. Or nanotubes and nanobatteries. You can't blame politicians for wanting to attract new Energy R&D startups here in the NW if that's where the market is heading. The green label helps, believe it or not...

If that means we should become a biodiesel center, so be it, if the market indeed need to go that direction. Or nanotubes and nanobatteries. You can't blame politicians for wanting to attract new Energy R&D startups here in the NW if that's where the market is heading. The green label helps, believe it or not...

I don't dispute that. But the way to do this is not to hassle the gas stations and the Jubitzes, jacking up the price of gas in town by 50 cents a gallon in the process. Take the $248 million that the PDC wastes on condo farms every year and put it to work on something real.


Just for the sake of argument, how do you feel about smoking in public places? You're likely against smoking in, say, a commercial flight, I guess. Maybe a bar too.

Plus, I'm guessing you think it's fair our expense to have trash taken away each week is proportional to the amount we produce, no?

So by the logic that we're ultimately responsible for what we subject our neighbors to, why shouldn't there be a stepped tax on gas consumption/emissions? Arguably, a disincentive needs to be in place, and it only works at the consumer level. I think we all know that gas prices can't move the market like it should.

Anyway, just playin' a devilish advocate here, maybe I'm wrong.

why shouldn't there be a stepped tax on gas consumption/emissions?

Fine, fine! My whole point is that this is a state or federal matter, not a city matter, and Randy damn well knows this. He's just pandering.

"Maybe you could have Mark Bunster over at the Fire Bureau get that one up on the wire Wednesday morning, on company time."

I resent the implication by you that I coordinate with anyone what they or I say.

I never have and don't plan to start now.

I may not have gone to law school but I am capable of reading statutes and forming my own opinions without being prompted.

If you don't agree with what I am doing, fine. I believe I have demonstrated here on more than one occasion that I am more than willing to discuss disagreements at length as long as they are at a minimum respectful exchanges.

But questioning my motives and veracity in this public forum, whether it is your site or not, is over the line.

Jack, you have been locked in your blog room for too long. Out here the price of fuel is outrageous, and the oil companies and oil empires are printing money and laughing at the dumb consumers who have proven that there is no elasticity of demand for fuel. Then on top of that, some little city in the west tries to take a stand, and they laugh harder because the same people who are mindlessly paying $3/gallon for fuel to line the pockets of BP, Exxon, Conoco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are suddenly staunch defenders of the very establishment that is exploiting them. As mindlessly as some pay $3/gallon, they also revert to mindless anger toward the local government who is FINALLY trying to do its part to undermine oil's stranglehold on the economy. I think that is the most unexplainable phenomenon ever. The will to try something like this is exactly what I love about living in this city. If its so bad for you here, you should consider moving to Wyoming. Nothing has changed there in 200 years.

Randy, come on. I've heard you pull the "questioning my motives" trigger several times now. You're a career politician. You do things for votes. You'd be abusing the public trust if you didn't do that -- it's called representative governement.

What I'm lamenting here is that you and the Mayor and the rest of the council can't seem to win voters over in the areas that are your core mission. Instead you tilt at windmills where you can have no meaningful impact, and perhaps most crazy of all, it gets you re-elected in our, shall we say, unique little city.

If its so bad for you here, you should consider moving to Wyoming.

I hate the oil companies as much an anybody does. I wish my car could run on cat feces. But if there's going to be a solution, it isn't going to come from the Portland City Council. I won't be moving to Wyoming. I'll just drive down to Lake Oswego (2 minutes from where I work -- where Mark Bunster lives) to buy gas if it's 50 cents a gallon cheaper.

But I'll hate to see Jubitz go out of business, just like I hated to see Columbia Sportswear leave town. Too bad no one among the Portland "planning progressive" geniuses shares my sentiment on that. If it ain't a condo, it's gone-do.

Great ideas TK! How about a consumption tax for all the expensive luxury materials used in the Pearl and SoWa condos? They don't really need granite countertops, hardwood floors, steamrooms and brass fixtures. Does that tram (rimshot) really need all the custom accoutrements used in its construction? And what about that subsidized Armory theater? Is that really needed?

Using your logic, we should tax anyone and anything who uses more than they need. I guess we'll leave it up to the likes of you and Randy to tell us how much we're entitled to.

I expect people who do not post under their real names to take unaccountable shots at me, Jack. It comes with the territory and I accept that.

However, I really do expect you to at least attempt to elevate the conversation above that level.

I have seen you get pretty pissed off on this site for a lot less than what you have said about me in this thread.

And I don't think you can legitimately fall back on "it's my site" when I am the subject of your post. I hope you would agree.

It may be "our unique little city" to you because you have had the benefit of living other places. I haven't. I was born here. I was raised here. And I expect to be planted here along with my parents and grandparents. It is not about me getting reelected that motivates me.

I have been working on this initiative and related subjects for a while now. You have no clue what is motivating me to propose this because you have not asked. You think it is not my job to regulate what is sold in gasoline stations in Portland.

I don't agree with you but I do not call you a tool of big oil to discredit you or question your motives.

If either I or someone else did, I am quite sure you would ban them.

"But I'll hate to see Jubitz go out of business..."

I met with Fred Jubitz today and we drafted an amendment that he is happy with.

Jack--Let's do the math. Biodiesel today is about the same price as regular diesel. Lets assume that the mandate drives demand up to the point where its $5/gallon for biodiesel (which is very high). If a gallon of fuel is 95% diesel, and 5% biodiesel with diesel at $3/gallon and biodiesel at $5/gallon, the cost of each gallon of fuel will be $3.10 (2.85 for the diesel, $.25 for the biodiesel). That's and extreme example and amounts to a $.10 difference in price, and within the range of price of regular diesel lately.

Also, I bet you a tank of biodiesel that Jubitz doesn't go out of business over this.

Other than you don't think the City Council is capable of doing this because you are mad at them about the tram, Columbia Sportswear and VOE, what else do you have that is substantive?

I wish there could be gay marriage too -- but it wasn't for the county to decide.

Even if we all agree that the goal is worthy, what we are looking at here is a program of questionable legality that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend and enforce. And even if it is upheld, it won't change national, regional, or even state energy policy one single bit. All it will do is make it even more expensive to do business in Portland, already one of the least affordable cities in the nation. If it's worth that to you to give Dick Cheney the finger, by all means go for it. It isn't to me.

And Randy, you're right. I can't know for sure what's motivating you. Indeed, unless it's a political move, I couldn't explain it. Back when I was one of your strongest supporters, I never would have expected to see you doing this sort of stuff. Indeed, this looks more like a stunt by the Serena I voted against than the agenda of the Randy I voted for.

You want to fight the oil companies? Run for Congress.

If a gallon of fuel is 95% diesel, and 5% biodiesel with diesel at $3/gallon and biodiesel at $5/gallon, the cost of each gallon of fuel will be $3.10 (2.85 for the diesel, $.25 for the biodiesel). That's and extreme example and amounts to a $.10 difference in price, and within the range of price of regular diesel lately.

If you think that's the way the oil companies are going to price the "Special Portland Blend," you are truly delusional.

I may be giving Dick Cheney the finger, but that is not why I am doing this.

For an example, and admittedly on a much smaller scale, in the early 80's Portland banned Styrofoam cups because they do not break down in land fills.

According to the Styrofoam industry at the time, life on the planet as we know it was going to come to an end.

After Portland took the action it did, the industry adapted and within a few years Styrofoam cups were replaced by biodegradable cups in the broader market.

I believe that if Portland adopts this standard for biodiesel, it will shove the legislature to do what they almost did last session...adopt this standard state wide.

The likes of Rep. Jeff Krop and Rep. Jackie Dingfelder are the main proponents of a biodiesel requirment in Oregon.

I also believe if that happens, other states will follow suit and adopt similar biodiesel standards.

In my view, this strategy is not the total answer. However, biodiesel should and could be part of our strategy for energy independence.

It is clear it is not happening in the current broader political climate. However, I do think Portland could represent a template for success to the rest of the state...for a start.

That's what they said about gay marriage, Randy, and look at the backlash. The whole thing was well-intentioned, but very expensive and ultimately counter-productive. You push the Ferriolis and the Minnises on this, and you are going to get pushed back, hard.

It reminds me a lot of Erik and the long litigation with the cable companies over forced sharing of their lines for high-speed internet. An enormous waste of time and money. You have an opinion on a matter of national importance? Write an op-ed piece and send it to the New York Times and Washington Post. Stop spending millions of city tax dollars making your point.

BTW, there are lots of beverages being sold in styrofoam cups around this great nation outside our own progressive theme park.

"You want to fight the oil companies? Run for Congress."

According to that logic, I guess I should have let the county figure out how to open more jail beds too. But I believe that citizens expect their "government" to figure it out and don't really care that it is not the city's responsiblity to fund jails.

And if I want to beat my head against a wall, I will run for the legislature again and then only have to drive 50 miles to do it instead of flying across the country.

He he! Randy, as always, I wish you luck. But be careful as you veer off into Stenville. If a capable candidate on your right runs against you next time, this kind of stuff could get you into a tiresome runoff.

Are there going to be city inspectors riding around on bicycles in colorful uniforms enforcing these rules? At least the meter maids won't be the most hated public employees any more...

Anyway, I'm serious about the legal side. I'm no municipal law or constitutional law expert, but I am a lawyer and I can at least spot issues. I called what eventually happened with gay marriage right out the box. I think you may have some of the same problems here, and then some -- and the oil companies aren't going to let you slide, so you're going to have to be right.

This issue is not analagous to gay marriage.

The constituency that benefits the most in Oregon is farmers...republican, conservative farmers.

Jeff Kropf did not support gay marriage.

He did fight to pass a biodiesel bill but was defeated by...guess what industry?

I believe we are right about the legal issues. But, you may be correct.

However, I am pretty sure the political stuff you are dead wrong on. The farmers east of the Cascades love this...and Ted Ferrioli knows it.

O.k., Don Quixote, saddle up!

Chris M-

No, what I said is what I said. I wasn't talking about 'consumption', I was talking about each persons/family's net waste, or, what they expell that is forced on others. The logic being that your expense should be proportional to the amount. With a finite supply of fuel, there has to be a disincentive for use, price isn't working. I think I was clear that only in certain critical functions, government has a key role in buffering the market from disaster.

Chris, that talk-radio addiction isn't doing your reading comprehension skills much good... instead of addressing what is said at face value, you simply take it to whatever illogical end you dream up. Wow, the guilt GOPers carry around... assuming every idea or position is a front for some nefarious motive.

Randy, I think you should run against the newly vulnerable Gordon Smith. You could get some of that E. Oregon vote if Ferrioli stumps for you...

Yeah, those farmers out there are gonna love it when a liberal Democrat union president from Portland stops by to tell them how he's going to help them, only they have to grow what he tells them to. Maybe the RV will help...

Rob R: you correctly note the small percentages of biodiesel and ethanol mandated in the BFO should produce a minor increase in direct costs (small % = small price increase). But direct costs are only part of the equation.

The indirect costs are what I'm worried about:

1. Market participants may shrink (if a major distributor pulls out of Portland). Fewer participants usually results in higher prices: Econ. 101.

2. Additional transportation and storage costs: even if the blending occurs exclusively in Portland, the downstream transportation and storage equipment can only be used for "Portland specific" blends. No quick deliveries to Vancouver, or Lake Oswego: we only carry Portland Blends. Ironically, to the degree that Portland is the 800 pound guerrilla, Randy could actually drive up the retail cost of fuel across the region. Upstream (pre-arrival to Portland) infrastructure costs may also increase.

3. Less BTU's per gallon (with E10) means lower fuel efficiency, and more gallons of gas purchased.

4. Lost sales/compressed profit margins. What if SWIFT or Warner trucking decide to boycott Portland and they start buying gas outside City Limits? If Jubitz (and other commercial refuelers) want to stay competitive, they will likely see their margins squeezed THANKS TO RANDY'S QUIXOTIC BATTLE AGAINST BIG OIL.

Jack: those Baby Seals are so cute! I think Randy MUST DO SOMETHING.

How about the PFD sends Bark Munster up to Canada with a stun gun and a laptop, and he can negotiate directly with the hunters. His rhetoric has been so persuasive to me, I'm thinking about blogging full time (and get paid for it) as an employee of the City of Portland.

Another idea: sister cities are old school. Yawn. How about a sister SPECIES? Can you imagine a picture of Mayor Potter (in a fur lined hoodie) gazing at a bunch of baby seals that he just rescued from certain death?

WE MUST DO SOMETHING BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE. The Canadians are clearly unwilling to step up to the plate, so the City of Portland needs to take an aggressive posture and STAND UP for what's right. Once they see the moral superiority inherent in the City of Portland Way, they'll all come over to our way of thinking, fueling, marrying, etc. They just need to be educated.

I don't believe there is going to be a smooth transition from a fossil fuel based energy resource to something sustainable at least based on any of the alternatives that we are being presented with today. We may be able to stall this transition a little longer if we can learn to conserve what is left, but based on what I see while I wait for the bus every morning to go to work doesn't give me much hope for that. It's possible though that an alternative may be out there that we just haven't seen yet and perhaps we shall all be saved at the last minute, who knows. The reason for hope occured to me as I began pursuit of photography again after a 20 year hiatus. In the early 70's there was talk that some day soon we would run out of inexpensive film for our cameras because we were using up limited silver supplies so quickly. At some point silver would become too expensive before we could find an alternative that worked as well (actually we couldn't imagine an alternative that would work as well). Imagine a world without Photography? No pictures, no movies, NO PORNOGRAPHY! We'd have to go back to painting and engraving we'd all be living in the 18th century again! Digital memory cards have replaced film. We didn't run out and the world collapsed around us we came up with something different (not better in my opinion)that displaced it. There is of course a negative (no pun intended) outcome to all this. The whole analog photographic industry and the art form it sustained is collapsing around us and some of us find that depressing just as the owner of a Corvette may someday have to content himself with sitting in his car in the garage making 'vrrooomm vrrooomm noises and pretending to race because he can't afford to drive anything but a tiny hybrid vehicle that tops out at 45mph. I'll leave you all to continue this discussion because I want to go back in to my darkroom and enjoy what little time I have left with my anachronistic processes.

I of course have my theory about motivation and Randy's strained claim of personal offense. (The central theme: Jack, suppose no single retail gas outfit in the city chooses to assert a Commerce Clause objection?)

My offer of a Washington Apple label scheme, is just bland academic stuff from someone who actually studied natural resource economics. It represents what might have been considered the legal outer limits of allowable distortion of the market to favor local folks. Randy's plan is rather stark in contrast.

Read my theory, linked above, then consider this: Does anyone recall the recent labor dispute in California at Safeway. The head Safeway guy used to work at Fred Meyers, by the way, contemporaneous with an old labor dispute at Fred Meyers when the Oregon Investment Council was aligned with the owners interests. I went to the Safeway on Broadway and picketed, but I was demanding that the OIC divest themselves of Safeway stock (12 million dollars worth at the time) as the proper remedy -- I was whining about the OIC giving the OEA an audience and then making public pronouncements suggesting that Safeway should increase the healthcare component of the pay to the laborers, quite contrary to the OIC's role of being adversarial to labor, but nevertheless supportive of the Democratic call for monopoly pricing for all healthcare with the carrot of subsidies to be extracted from the general public.

The method of achieving via the influence of the OIC "progressive" social investing, as a direct alternative to using the legislative process, is the key thing at issue there, as here.

Imagine the conflict between the various classes of "owners" of Safeway in regard to whether Safeway should be the "private" gas retailer to insist upon application of the federal Interstate Commerce Clause to thwart Randy's plan. This kind of thing would be discussed entirely behind closed doors and beyond the reach of any classic "public records" request.

Randy, might I suggest that you contact Townsend Hyatt and get a better script. I would love to have a voice tape of any such communication though, in the interest of "transparency" and compliance with the City of Portland's fancy new Lobbying ordinance. I have been tempted to wear the Ater Wynne labeled shirt -- that I picked up at Salvation Army -- in one of my seemingly crazy protests handing out fliers in front of The Oregonian. It does fit well and the material is high quality. Someone that bills the public at 500 dollars an hour should be able to clue you in better than a mere blogger offering free advice (or is that hairballs, perhaps with a complete role reversal).

I just got a styrofoam cup full of ice cold soda at a Wilsonville sandwich shop (national chain who toasts all their sandwhiches), it doesn't "sweat" on the outside of the cup like the ones in Portland. 25 minutes later, it's still full of ice!

I guess they didn't get Randy's memo about Portland changing the "broader market"...

In related news, the Wilsonville Costco sells Gasoline! Plain old unleaded gas without any blessing from the Town's Patriarch. About 10 cents a gallon cheaper than the Arco I usually patronize (in Portland). I will report back a year from now to report on whether that cost differential has changed (I might even load it into Excel and put up a chart). Heck, I could even post it on a new website.

I wonder if PORTLANDGASTAX.COM is available?

Maybe PDXFUELSCAM.ORG would be easier to remember? Mmmmm. Any suggestions?

Also: the Wilsonville Costco was half as crowded as Tigard usually is on Saturday, despite the 4th of July holiday. And no beggars on the freeway on-ramps. Go figure. The Wilsonville P.D. probably doesn't show the same respect of free speech rights like they do in Portland. Or maybe those rich suburbanites are not so generous with their spare change?

Randy Leonard: For an example, and admittedly on a much smaller scale, in the early 80's Portland banned Styrofoam cups because they do not break down in land fills.

Which is why OHSU is still using them inside the city of Portland right? (Or at least it was my understanding that OHSU got an exception and was still using styrofoam.



Mr. Leonard,

You're not respectful of anyone but your liberal, public employee, etc., base.

What a hypocrite.

"healthy, respectful debate"? "willing to discuss disagreements at length"? "respectful exchanges"? "Questioning my motives and veracity in this public forum, is over the line"?

You're as insulting as any with every debate involving challenges to your knee jerk immovable positions.

And you pull this tired crap every time.

I remember, when challenged, you cast the opposition to the Tram and SoWa as the,

"Lars Larson types who want to destroy our public school system."

I'm sure you thought that was clever and a useful way to avoid taking on the realities you continue to miss at SoWa.

Recently I heard you say in a discussion, "I'm not going to change my mind no matter what anyone tells me".

You're as blatantly politically motivated, biased and disingenuous as any typically so politician.

While a riding that high horse in your own mind.

Richard, I think Randy is still amenable to persuasion.

Sten is the one that confidently believes that through osmosis from a parent (and tutelage) that he knows enough about law that research into the law, for the sake of discovering how a collection of reasonable minds might have framed some inquiry, is a mere waste of time that is not worthy of the time-of-day. If Sten were to concede even a hint of the need to investigate the writings and the reasoning of others it would shatter his aura of Zen-like prescience and infallibility -- in essence, any hint that he is just a human, or worse, just one human among others, all of whom are inherently fallible, is not a proper inquiry for someone acting as the hand of god.

If someone erected a Katz-style bronze bust/statue for Randy he might get embarrassed while Sten would likely view it as fitting eternal symbolism of his great contributions.

As proof, picture Sten taking personal offense, privately or publicly, from anyone? If opposition is from the evil forces of darkness then opposition is just plain expected but so too is the absence of any need to bring the evilness within the fold of the forces of good, as it might dilute the purity of all goodness.

Randy can still hope to get a rousing high-five here, on any given day on any given issue. Sten is hopeless, and Randy occasionally shows signs of drifting irrevocably to the darkside. Depressingly, Randy is the last best hope, for the time being.

Give Randy partial credit for popping his head up above the trenchline.

Give him two demerits for pretending that the City Council has actually provided adequate time and publicity to seek anything worthy of the title "debate".

The Portland City Council's public input on the Bio-Fuels Ordinance is much like Multnomah County's public input on same sex marriage. The people who would benefit got advance warning, everybody else read about in the newspaper, after the fix was in.

As with the MultCo debacle, I am confident that a judicial remedy is possible. Similarly, if Portland's gas prices leap noticeably higher after implementation of the BFO, Randy will be eating the same brand of crow that Chair Linn is chewing on for the next 5 months. If the BFO really screws the pooch, and Portland's gas prices are a buck a gallon higher, Randy's job security will rank below NASA's Safety Director after a third space shuttle goes bingo.

I'll be looking for the resulting decline in gas purchased inside Portland as a green light for the Portland Office of Sustainable Development to make more bogus claims of Portland emissions reductions.
They're like fabricating results based on bad methodology to sustain themselves.
Too bad public money is used to defraud the public.

They're good at fabricating results based on bad methodology to sustain themselves.

"I'll be looking for the resulting decline in gas purchased inside Portland as a green light for the Portland Office of Sustainable Development to make more bogus claims of Portland emissions reductions.
They're like fabricating results based on bad methodology to sustain themselves."

Geez. People kept telling government to be more like private enterprise. Now that they're doing so, everyone's a critic!

Leonard: "Requiring the inclusion of biodiesel at the pump opens the oil market to a brand new set of players. The biodiesel industry is not centered in high rises in downtown Houston, Texas. Instead, it will be the eastern Oregon farmers who will benefit most from this mandate"

Yes and the peasant farmers of the Russian steppes were the big winners from Soviet style economic reform right?? Maybe its time for a history lesson.

I firmly believe that the Eastern Oregon farmers will benefit significantly less then expected. But regardless the City Council central thinking machine can think for us all, and after all, only a city council member really knows whats best for Eastern Oregon Farmers.

Posted by: gl at July 3, 2006 05:28 PM

Randy - OK, I'll try again to explain why this is a bad idea.

Chevy Tahoe - RegGas = 20mpg E85 = 15mpg HWY

To go 100 miles:
Reg Gas = 5 gal * $3 = $15
E85 = 6.667 gal * $3 = $20

In 100 miles
Reg Gas = 5 gal gas
E85 = 5.667 gal gas + 1 gal ethanol

Basically on E85 you pay $17 for gas + $3 for ethanol (subsidy to farmers.) Hybrids make sense, E85 doesn't outside of the feel-good factor.

So you are correct if we sock everyone with a $5 penalty to 100 miles, you can send $3 to Eastern Oregon and use more oil at the same time to keep the guys in Houston happy.

I still think you are a genius.

I wish you would drop the born in Portland, so I care and you don't attitude also.

I was boen here and my parents were here before you in Portland.

I have a hard time explaining to them why their water bill is going up. They also ask about PFDR using more money than parks or libraries and growing. They also ask why a Mayor should be making $120K/year plus a $100K/year pension plus gold encrusted benefits while college graduates born here need to go to Hillsboro, Lake OSwego or Vancouver to get a job approaching CoP pay and benefits.

Your solution for PFDR, according to the Oregonian, will only take 31 more years of tax increases to "solve" the problem.

From all of us born here, thanks for doing a great job - stick to fixing potholes.

Posted by: Steve at July 3, 2006 10:53 PM

(Posted as indicated, restored later.)

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