Image via NRDC
The questions are still swirling around the Waxman-Markey climate bill, which just passed the House of Reps by the narrowest margins--is it too weak? Does it cater too much to coal companies and heavy industry? Will it pass the Senate? Will it be the "biggest tax hike" ever perpetrated on Americans, as the Wall Street Journal says it will? Yet one overlooked element of the bill has been quietly revealed by the good folks at the NRDC: it will save Americans an average of $13.93 a month on fuel by 2020--and depending on the state, it could save far more. A cursory glance at the map above should reveal some pretty encouraging stats: if you live in Nevada, you'll be saving over $21 a month on gas, in Florida, around $14 a month--even as the overal cost of gasoline continues to rise. So how does that work out?
The bill includes a provision that gives funding to fuel-efficient vehicles, and as NRDC's Pete Altman points out, when that's "combined with clean vehicle performance standards adopted by the Obama administration, the American on-road fleet will become about 25% more fuel efficient over the next decade."
Which means--you guessed it--lower gas prices around. Sure, certain free market capitalists will disparage the fact that the bill, along with Obama's fuel efficiency standard, are depriving consumers of the choice to drive gas guzzling behemoths--but saving 20 bucks a month on gas and polluting less sounds fine to me. Even if Ford is being forced to make cleaner cars to make it possible, it seems like a pretty indisputable win-win-win to me. After all,
by 2020, Americans will drive more efficient vehicles and have lower household transportation costs. Even in the face of rising gasoline prices, cleaner vehicles will save money by sipping instead of guzzling gasoline.One more note--many complain that the additional cost to the American family as a result of the bill is unfair (the US Budget Office predicts it will cost $175 per family per year, the EPA says even less). But the savings from gas alone (using the national average saved at $13.93) is $167.16. Which means the net cost of the climate bill per American family (given they use a car, of course) amounts to a whopping $7.84 a year.
Small price to pay to fight the greatest global crisis of our time, if you ask me.
More on the Climte Bill:
Senate OKs "Alternative" Climate Bill
Why Passing the Climate Bill is an Ethical Necessity