The change is almost certain to be gradual, and result in a minimal expense to energy consumers. The fact is, it will be no more of a concern than the change to unleaded gasoline has been.
There are, of course, other consumers of energy. A big one is the electric utility industry, which will also need to convert to different energy sources. The best one they could choose (sorry to inform all you paranoids) is nuclear power. If enough nuclear power plants were built, not only would the reduction in use of petroleum for electricity mean there was more available for other uses, but the nuclear power could be used to produce hydrogen (or boron) to run cars with zero pollution. Basically, our energy and pollution concerns would be solved with one swoop.
Unfortunately, the cowardice of our leaders coupled with the paranoia of our citizens and the idiots that caused the Chernobyl disaster add up to widespread use of nuclear power being a long way off. But electric generating plants still have alternative fuel possibilities, including coal, ethanol, solar power, and others. The gradual loss of petroleum as an economically viable energy source would not result in significant problems for the industry.
Similar options will face all petroleum users in the future, because sooner or later petroleum will cease to be a viable source. But in all cases, as with the automotive and electric utility industries discussed, the change will not be a major disruption, but rather an evolutionary development.
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