New Bill Would Ban Offshore Drilling and Increase Fuel Economy Standard


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We learned yesterday that if the average American were to drive 5.4 miles less every day, we'd eliminate the need to drill in the Gulf -- that would be enough to relieve the demand for the 1.75 million barrels that gets pumped out. But could saving gas really be enough incentive to cut out the drilling? Vermont senator Bernie Sanders thinks it could -- he's just introduced legislation that would ban offshore drilling and boost the national fuel economy standard to curb oil demand accordingly. It's a great idea, and here's how it would work:From Sanders' release:

The measure would prohibit drilling in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and along Florida's gulf coastline. A moratorium on drilling in those areas that Congress approved every year since 1982 lapsed in 2008. Sanders' bill also would set a fuel economy standard of 55 miles per gallon, up from an average of 35 mpg that American car makers must achieve by 2030 under current law.

An outgrowth of an Obama administration push to stiffen the standards, the detailed requirement proposed by Sanders would bring the United States up to par with China, Japan, Canada, South Korea and nations in Europe that already have more aggressive standards than the U.S. In Europe, for example, cars already get the equivalent of 42 mpg and by 2020 cars in Europe will be required to get at least 65 mpg.

The improved fuel economy would translate into a savings of $1.43 per gallon of gas. Opening all of America's coastal waters to drilling would yield such a modest boost in petroleum supplies that the price of gas would dip by only 3-cents a gallon.

The idea is, simply by making our cars as efficient as those in most of the industrialized world, we could eliminate the need for dangerous offshore drilling.

Though some will inevitably view such legislative efforts as pie-in-the-sky ambition, the only reason that's the case that oil has such a stranglehold on our economy -- and creative efforts to start staving it off are met with the well worn narrative that it'd be too harsh for the industries; not just oil, but auto, and manufacturing as well, to start backing off petroleum.

Well, I say it's high time we get creative, and applaud Sanders' vision here. Let's hope that in the face of this devastating disaster in the Gulf, Congress takes this great bill as seriously as it should.

More on Offshore Drilling
Obama to Extend Deepwater Drilling Ban for Six Months
Offshore Drilling : Worth the Oil, or False Hope?
Offshore Drilling Bad for Environment, Energy Security, and Job Growth

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