Are We Serious About Ending Our Addiction?

When Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced the new fuel efficiency standards for light trucks -- the category that includes minivans and SUVs -- some editorial pages lambasted the government for not going far enough.

The Peoria Journal Star editorial board noted that the minimum required efficiency now stands at 17.5 miles per gallon, when averaged across the light trucks category. By 2011, that requirement will be up to 24 mpg. The Journal Star's exasperated response? "So, after a quarter-century of trying to wean ourselves off oil, all we will have been able to eke out is a 6.5 mpg increase for trucks."

Blogger Gregory Scoblete isn't surprised in the least by the meager move. "I guess we're not really serious about 'ending our addiction' to oil."

If we want to get serious, says the Peoria editorial, raising standards by five percent a year until 2010 could result in a savings of 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. In contrast, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would yield a little more than half that per day -- and unlike conservation, which is ongoing, the reserve is a limited resource.

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial points out that "the fine print" of the new rules weakens emissions standards by pre-empting state regulations on greenhouse gasses from vehicles. (See pages 44-45.)

Any states' rights advocates care to speak up on behalf of California and other states whose emissions laws are affected? What do you think about the five percent idea? Are we really serious about ending our addiction to oil?

By Emily Messner |  April 5, 2006; 3:08 PM ET  | Category:  National Politics
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I raised this question earlier, and I'll raise it again: why do we think it's going to matter at this point to conserve? In ten years time, there probably won't be enough oil for just the world's need for making plastics. Reducing SUV emissions seems to me to be a dead end. The green house gas emission problem is going to solve itself when we can no longer use oil to drive cars whenever and wherever we feel like.

It seems to me the relevant questions at this point are: 1. Can we create alternative powered cars fast enough to get full replacement in ten years? 2. Can we figure out how to support airplane infrastructure and global industrial capacity for the forseeable future?

Oil is expnesive now and it is not scarce, once it is a scarce resource... goodnight Irene. The two questions above are not really addressing "how do we save oil?" That's a useless question because we can't. Not in the amount necessary, as I understand things. The real question is, since we can't save oil, "how do we save TRANSPORTATION and INDUSRTY?"

Posted by: Steven | April 5, 2006 04:54 PM

Two answers Steve's two questions, yes and yes. Not in ten year's time (where is that figure from anyway) but certainly with a significant lead time.

The real questions concerning oil, at this point, are geopolitical. And those questions generally cut uniformly against U.S. interests.

Posted by: Greg Scoblete | April 5, 2006 05:53 PM

mr steven dude...

let's get one thing straight...

it's not so much about preservation, conservation or any of that...

it's about is the government, and this administration in particular, looking to do anything but get rich on oil?

WELL, if they are,

then they wouldn't have cut grants for research on alternative energy and they would be working towards maintaining what little we have in the way of _oil_ rather than starting a terrorist occupation of a foreign country

as a way of

making sure that mister

disgustingly, thoughtless, inept gas guzzling weenie that needed a big truck so he could feel like he _had a big one_ SUV driver had enough gas to show off his _toy_

because the rest of us need to support his lack of self esteem by killing a couple of hundred thousand Iraqis...

that's why we're in Iraq isn't it because the boys in the United States need to feel like their weenies are big enough to get the job done...


because if that's not the reason that we're there nothing else makes sense...

we know there's no effing terrorists because we've got 12 million dark skinned towel head lookalikes that have managed to

sneak? twelve million sneak, how about walk across the border, virtually unimpeded to steal 12 Million American jobs, that no one wants like





or maybe they're just trying to get the few jobs that can't be outsourced before the Americans give those away too...

what am I saying?


Posted by: what the heck are you talking about? | April 5, 2006 09:05 PM

since this is actually a lot more timely and should be what we are talking about as congress attempts to force something through that doesn't penalize them for hiring gardners, maids or building their new beach houses in baja with their own illegal crew that they bring stateside after that job...

I think the focus should be on making those that _hire_ illegals into criminals, felony criminals...

I think congress people should be _less_ exempt from getting away from commiting crimes...

the reason congress people should be not at all exempt from being prosecuted for crimes, _any_ crimes is that they handle laws...

how can we be assured that the congress people are acting in _our_ best interests IF they don't adhere to the laws that they pass...

I think it's time to arrest a few congress people.

I like the idea that Rudy Guilliani had in New York City, they were knee deep in murder, flagrant robbery, rape, assault, and so on...New York City was a CRIME CAPITAL....

then he pressed the New York City Cops to arrest anyone commiting a crime, scofflaws, subway vandals, what-have-you...

turns out crime went to zero.

the reason being, the people that think nothing about

not paying for lunch
not paying a parking ticket
not reporting honestly on their taxes
hiring illegals
shop lifting
not paying for a subway pass/jumping the turnstile

were the same ones murdering, raping, assaulting and what not

if you arrest congress people for their daily inability to simply follow the law of the land, then you won't be troubled by the ones that they are passing to

rape you of your rights as a citizen.

prosecute fully for hiring illegals...


thanks so much.

good luck and good night.


Posted by: about illegal hiring of illegal aliens... | April 6, 2006 01:00 AM

With record profits at the pump and prices still going up, combined with a powerful lobby reaching up to the White house, the Oil Industry will continue to maintain a firm grip on any significant gasoline consumption "improvement" that may emmanate from the Republican Dept. of Transportation. Feel good propaganda is all we can expect from this Administration. Bush, corporate Oil and the Saudis are the best of friends. War is good, fuel consumption high, oil barons smile. End of discussion!

Posted by: camus | April 6, 2006 09:43 AM

If our leaders were serious about conserving gas, then they would properly fund alternatives, including Amtrak!

Posted by: mike crowe | April 6, 2006 11:08 AM

Raising emissions and efficiency standards would also help rebuild the gutted American auto industry. Currently, Detroit can't sell cars in China, and a number of other nations, because current federal standards are set at lower levels. Over a billion people that, one day soon, will want a new car, should bring a smile to the face of any auto-worker. Unfortunately, their representatives are more responsive to the concerns of ExxonMobil and the like to take the intelligent, long-term view. Sad, really...

Posted by: _kevie_ | April 6, 2006 11:33 AM

Wow! Under even the outrageously "worst case scenario" Arctic Wilderness output formulated by environmental advocates, the Anwar would produce enough to let us keep our SUVs without new gas mileage standards?

So we don't have to start using lighter weight composite materials and plastics, and other safety reducing economies, and put thousands of our children at risk? All we have to do is open the Anwar? Undo a small fraction of Jimmy Carter's frozen wilderness land grab?

Where do we sign? Call your Congressman and Senator!

Posted by: guzzler | April 6, 2006 01:30 PM

We could already have a hydrogen based economy, were it not for the witch hunt against nuclear power, which is entirely a creation of the press. Samuel McCracken refuted all the scare stories about nuclear power 28 years ago, in "The War Against the Atom," Commentary, September 1977. For instance, McCracken pointed out that plutonium is only one-fiftieth as toxic as the commonly used pesticide, arsenic trioxide.

Even the scare stories about radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons are 99% propaganda. Only ground bursts produce significant fallout, and that only remains hazardous while airborne. Furthermore, the longer the half-life of a radioactive isotope, the weaker the radioactivity, and it does decay eventually, unlike non-radioactive pollutants.

Posted by: Mark S. Oller | April 6, 2006 02:18 PM

Amtrak, yes, go to Indianapolis to St. Loius via Chicago and sit uncomfortably for 8 hours.
I love one of the favorite arguments against anwar, it is only enough for a year or whatever. Sure, if that's all we consumed amd stopped all other sources. This kind of propoganda from both sides serves no one.

Posted by: Chris | April 6, 2006 02:50 PM

To Mark,

There are current alternatives to a fossil fuel based economy, and they don't necessarily mean to develop complex technologies, or go into the hydrogen economy solution (which it can take time and much more money).

Currently, it is possible to produce plastics from crops, and fuel cars with alcohol. 40% of all cars sold in Brazil past year run on the alcohol the country produces from sugar cane, and even the energy to produce this alcohol comes from sugar cane; they will be selling only cars that run on alcohol in few more years.

Huge investments are not necessary to further develop bioplastics produced from corn, sugar cane or other crops. There is a lot of research already done on this, and companies already producing many of these materials.

I am working on a business project ot use bioplastics in disposable medical plastic products.

My blog on bioplastics is

Posted by: Martha | April 6, 2006 09:47 PM

hydrocarbons can come from many sources...

as can plastics.

nylon, was made from wood, silk from mullberry leaves...


Posted by: thanks... | April 6, 2006 11:25 PM

Brazil has been using alcohol for years. We have desert grass in texas that could be used. Plus if we did it would show the oil people that we intend to use alcohol means less oil we purchase from them. but no the oil people want to drill more wells in the gulf & ruin the shores of florida. plus the fact they control the production so that hurts us. excuses that refineries are down for repairs. same old story the rich get richer & poor people get poorer. when we pay high prices for gasoline the less we have to spend for food or schools etc.

Posted by: peter j romano | April 7, 2006 04:13 PM

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