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 Fall 2010


Alternate Routes to Climate Solutions

This summer, whenever I picked up a newspaper my heart sank. The photographs of oil-soaked pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico filled me with frustration and anger. I saw this damage firsthand in September during a wetlands tour in New Orleans, where biologists and fishermen described the untenable harm wreaked by the gushing well.

This catastrophe could not have put America’s oil dependence in starker terms. Last year, our country consumed more than 750 million gallons of oil and other petroleum products each day—a level of consumption that puts our environment, economy, and national security in serious peril. Whether in relation to the changing climate, the hundreds of billions of dollars we send overseas to pay for fuel imports, or the devastated Gulf coastline, scientific evidence reinforces what our hearts already know: we need to break our dangerous dependence on oil.

That’s why UCS has unveiled a new National Oil Savings Plan that would cut our country’s projected oil use in half by 2030. We can get there by boosting the fuel economy of our vehicles, producing clean biofuels, investing in the next generation of electric vehicles (see “The Evolution of a Revolution”), and improving public transportation options. The rigorous analysis, sound economics, smart policy, and good technology that went into this plan will ensure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past and stay reliant on oil.

We are calling on President Obama and Congress to adopt the plan and establish concrete steps to reach the goals outlined in it. At the same time, we are holding oil companies and automakers accountable for bringing the necessary clean vehicles and fuels into the marketplace. We are also providing consumers with information about the choices they can make to help reduce oil consumption.

UCS has long been a leader in the fight to promote science-based solutions to America’s oil dependence. Our recent success in convincing Congress to pass the first new fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in more than 30 years, and helping the Environmental Protection Agency understand the science behind sustainable biofuels, shows that UCS has the scientific credentials and policy smarts to get the job done.

It is this expertise and experience that convinces me UCS can and must play a role in developing an effective strategy to cut America’s oil dependence. Working together we can put the United States squarely in the driver’s seat as a leader in international efforts to shift away from fossil fuels. To learn more about our plan, visit the UCS website.

Kevin Knobloch, president