Open Mike, Memorial Day Weekend Edition, May 29-31The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an unmitigated disaster. Its full consequences will not be known for decades, but we already know that one of the most beautiful and productive coastal regions in the world is being turned into a giant cesspool and that thousands of workers are going to lose their livelihoods.
This crisis occurred at a time when the United States was considering opening new areas to offshore oil drilling. The fact is that offshore drilling simply does not achieve the goals that its advocates claim, and it is not worth the risk. If we are serious about wanting to break our dependence on foreign oil and move to energy independence; if we want to lower the cost of energy; if we want to combat climate change and cut greenhouse gas emissions; if we want to create millions of new jobs – then more offshore drilling is not the way to go.
That is why I have introduced legislation to reinstate a ban on new offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific continental shelves and along Florida's Gulf coast and dramatically increase fuel efficiency for vehicles sold in America.
Instead of saving three cents a gallon by 2030 by allowing wide open offshore drilling, we can save far more with stronger fuel economy standards. Just by raising our fuel efficiency standards to 35.5 miles per gallon for cars and trucks, as President Obama is doing, we will save consumers the equivalent of $1 per gallon of gas in 2030. If we enacted my legislation, we would reach 55 miles per gallon by 2030. That would save motorists the equivalent of $1.43 a gallon of gas. It also would eliminate the need for 3.9 million barrels of oil per day, more than double the amount we now import from Persian Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia.
We know we can get better fuel economy, because other nations are already doing it. The European Union currently gets 42 miles per gallon and is moving to 65 miles per gallon by 2020. China, Canada, Japan, and South Korea all have stronger fuel economy standards than the United States.
If we take bold action in energy efficiency, public transportation, advanced vehicle technologies, solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal, we can transform our energy system, clean up our environment, and create millions of new jobs in the process.