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 Summer 2012

Perspective

Our Plan for Less Pain at the Pump

When I was in Chicago for an April meeting, I was stunned to see a downtown gas station charging nearly $4.60 per gallon. Though this is an extreme example, high gas prices are becoming a reality for America’s 240 million drivers, and is just one of the many costs we must bear as a result of our country’s oil use. But when it comes to solving these problems the answer is clear: use less oil.

There is a realistic plan to cut the United States’ projected oil use in half over 20 years—and UCS has it. Our oil savings plan would move the country forward by boosting fuel efficiency, producing better biofuels, investing in electric cars, and incorporating smarter ways of doing business and getting around. These strategies would also save money, ease serious problems including oil spills and health threats from air pollution, and position the United States as a global technology leader.

For more than 40 years, politicians from both major parties have highlighted the problems associated with oil consumption but have never made a sustained effort to address them. At the same time, oil companies have poured money into marketing campaigns aimed at maintaining the status quo. We deserve better. We deserve a commitment to cut America’s oil use in half over the next 20 years by taking the steps outlined in the UCS oil savings plan.

Thankfully, we’re seeing some progress toward this goal. Two sets of fuel economy and emissions standards, the most recent of which was announced last summer, will double the gas mileage of new cars and light trucks by 2025 and reduce America’s oil consumption by approximately 3.5 million barrels per day by 2030. As a result, U.S. drivers will save $150 billion in fuel costs (after the cost of the fuel-saving technology) and slash global warming emissions by 640 million metric tons—the equivalent of shutting down nearly 140 average-size coal-fired power plants.

These new standards are only a beginning. The same kinds of solutions should be applied to every vehicle, from big rigs and school buses to planes, trains, and ships. We must also make investments to ensure that electric vehicles become more practical, vehicle fuels become less polluting, and sitting alone in your car in traffic becomes a thing of the past.

To all the politicians currently wasting time by assigning blame for high gas prices: we need a lot less talk and a lot more action.

Kevin Knobloch, president