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March 08, 2011

A Kick in the Gas

Gas-pump Gas prices here in DC are already over $4 per gallon and the media blitz and hubbub about rising gas price is fast and furious.

Clearly the American public is tired of emptying their bank accounts when they fill up their gas tanks - how long are we going to let this yearly cycle of high gas prices continue?

Let's look at where we are guzzling 13 of the 19 million barrels of oil used daily in the U.S.: Transportation. Of those 557 million gallons, two-thirds is consumed by Americans' personal cars, trucks, and SUVs.

The good news is that new vehicles sold over the next few years will be increasingly more efficient, and that will save consumers money at the pump. President Obama announced last May that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation would set standards for new vehicles, with the initial assessment that new vehicles could average 62 miles per gallon by 2025.

We know automakers can do this - and even Toyota officials said in January at the DC Auto Show that if the standard is set at 62 mpg, they it will meet it. GM's Mark Reuss revealed a similar sentiment at the Automobile Dealers Association annual convention in February:  "I think the industry can do anything it wants when it puts its mind to it."

We need more commitment from the rest of the auto industry.

Between now and 2016 the average fuel efficiency of the new vehicles is slated to reach 34.1 miles per gallon.  But we need to lock in serious improvements in vehicle gas mileage for the long term.

With a standard of at least 60 miles-per-gallon (as our Go 60 MPG campaign is calling for), the Obama Administration has the opportunity to respond to high oil prices, save oil, save consumers money at the pump and reduce harmful carbon pollution – but it must aim high to move our nation beyond oil.

The Administration has the opportunity to lock in oil savings and global warming reductions - but it must aim high.  Aiming high will help usher in the plug-in vehicles ultimately needed to shift off of oil.

Building a new generation of vehicles will cut America's oil dependence, reduce heat trapping carbon pollution, save money at the gas pump, and foster a competitive American auto industry.

Clearly this problem of high oil and gas prices goes deeper than better gas mileage for your car. We need a fundamental change in our nation's transportation policy to break our addiction to oil.

-- Ann Mesnikoff, Director of the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign


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