Sierra Club
MAY 14, 2004
 9:52 AM
CONTACT: Sierra Club 
Brian O'Malley, 202-675-6279
Bush Administration Fails to Address Rising Gas Prices: Higher Fuel Economy Would Save Consumers Money and Cut Oil Dependence

WASHINGTON - May 14 - Today, oil prices reached a 21-year high. This news comes at the heels of an OPEC announcement that it would not increase its production in response to world-wide record oil prices. Additionally, a report was issued earlier this week by the Energy Information Administration predicting that gasoline prices in the United States will stay above $2 per gallon throughout the entire summer. Despite these announcements, the Bush administration has failed to articulate an effective strategy to protect consumers and cut America's oil dependence. The most effective way to save consumers money at the gas pump is to increase the fuel economy of our nation's vehicles. The technology exists today to make all new cars, trucks, and SUVs average 40 miles per gallon within ten years. If all new vehicles average 40 mpg, the average consumer would save over $2,200 in net savings at the gas pump over the life of their vehicle.

"The single biggest step to saving consumer's money at the gas pump is to make our cars and trucks go farther on a gallon of gas," said Dan Becker, Washington Director, Sierra Club Global Warming program. "Taking this step would also curb global warming and save more oil than we currently import from the entire Persian Gulf."

Raising Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 40 miles per gallon would also cut America's dangerous dependence on oil, saving nearly 4 million barrels of oil per day by 2020, which is more oil than we currently import from the entire Persian Gulf or could ever take out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, combined. Stronger fuel economy standards would also curb global warming emissions from our nation's vehicles and clean up the air. With rising gas prices and a deteriorating situation in Iraq, it is more important than ever for the United States to increase the fuel economy of its vehicles.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration has opposed repeated efforts to raise fuel economy standards in Congress and has recently issued a proposal that would actually weaken existing fuel economy standards. While it has opposed these efforts, the administration has failed to articulate an effective policy to address rising gas prices and America's oil dependence. In response to rising gas prices, the Bush administration has only made ambiguous references to increasing pressure on OPEC while advocating its flawed and polluting energy policy. The Bush administration's energy policy proposes to open up more of our public lands to oil and gas drilling, including the precious Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, the United states cannot drill its way to energy independence. The U.S. consumes 25 percent of the world's oil, yet sits on just 3 percent of the known reserves. According to the Department of Energy, even if the United States drilled for oil in the Arctic Refuge, we would still need to import over two-thirds of our oil.

"Saving money at the gas pump isn't about drilling our natural heritage," said Becker. "It's about using existing technology to drill under Detroit to make our vehicles get better fuel economy."