In an unlikely pairing, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce and the Community Environmental Council (CEC) held a symposium for nearly 100 invited guests last Thursday on the impending peak oil crisis, which will cause erratic gas prices, inflation, and then recession as soon as 2015. Tam Hunt – director of the CEC’s Energy Programs and the Fossil Free by ’33 initiative – asserted that “peak oil is not an environmental issue, but an economic issue.” True to UCSB Professor Bruce Luyendyk’s assertion that there “is no silver bullet,” audience members heard a preponderance of economically viable solutions – including replacing petroleum with solar and wind power, biodiesel, and ethanol – some of which are already being implemented on a large scale in the tri-county area. Tom Olson of the design and engineering firm URS detailed the economic advantages of installing solar mats on airport roofs, a proposal the company has already made to Santa Barbara airport officials. Matt Riley of Clipper Windpower outlined the untapped potential of wind power on the South Coast, pointing out that the wind – unlike oil – is not subject to price inflation.

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