FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Union of Concerned Scientists
More Drilling Extends National Addiction to Oil; Will Not Save Americans Money at the Pump
Statement by Brendan Bell, UCS Washington Representative
WASHINGTON - June 26 - Senate Republican leadership today introduced a bill that would expand off-shore oil drilling and open areas that are now off-limits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to oil development. The bill, the Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008, stands in stark contrast with forward-looking legislation the House is considering, which would protect consumers from rising gas prices and expand transportation choices. Opening up America's coastlines and special places to oil and gas drilling is a shortsighted response that would not reduce prices at the pump and take the country in the wrong direction, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Below is a statement by Brendan Bell, UCS Washington representative:
"Americans deserve real solutions that will save them money at the pump, not more political posturing from the oil industry and its allies in Congress. The 'Gas Price Reduction Act' sounds like something out of a George Orwell novel. Despite the name, it will have no effect on today's gas prices and will have virtually no effect on future markets. Making our cars, light trucks and SUVs go farther on a gallon of gas would deliver real savings, not false promises.
"Unfortunately, high gas prices are here to stay. The price of oil is set by the world market and is being driven, in large part, by growing world demand. The United States cannot drill its way out of its oil addiction. We consume 25 percent of the world's oil, but we have only 3 percent of the world's proven reserves.
"We can't lower oil prices, but we can save consumers money by cutting back how often they have to fill up. Better fuel economy means real savings right now and into the future. Consumers can save money today by sticking to the speed limit, avoiding stop-and-go traffic, and taking public transit when it is available. Congress can start now by requiring oil companies to provide free air at all gas stations and encouraging Americans to tune-up their cars and trucks. These two steps could cut gas consumption by 5 to 10 percent depending on how well the vehicle is maintained. That would be the equivalent of a 20 to 40 cent per gallon discount.
"It is also time to extend tax credits that help Americans purchase new fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrid cars and SUVs, and eliminate the caps on those tax credits. In addition, Congress should pass legislation that provides Americans with expanded transportation choices, so we don't have to drive as often. Finally, we can put existing technology to work by ensuring strong implementation of the recently passed fuel economy standards.
"Ask any American if they want to save a dollar per gallon of gas and they will say, 'Yes.' That is precisely what the fuel economy standards passed by Congress last year will do. UCS analysis shows that just by reaching the minimum standard of 35 miles per gallon fleetwide by 2020, Americans will save $45 billion a year (at $4 per gallon of gas) and cut oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels per day. That is the equivalent of cutting today's gas prices by more than one dollar per gallon.
"The good news is that we have the fuel-saving technology to do even more. Regardless, the White House is blocking an EPA report that concluded the auto industry can go beyond 35 miles per gallon and the Transportation Department is setting standards assuming gas will cost just $2.42 in 2016. The administration cannot claim to care about Americans paying high gas prices on the one hand and then block federal agencies from taking action with the other.
"We need to break our addition to oil -- an addiction that only benefits the pusher -- the oil companies. This latest move by some in Congress is just another sign of the overwhelming greed of the oil companies. Not only are they making record profits, they are getting more than $30 billion in tax breaks. Now they want the federal government to give them our treasured public lands and beaches, even though they aren't drilling on all the leases they currently own. How much more do the oil companies expect American taxpayers to bankroll their profits?
"Our oil addiction hurts our economy, our environment, and our national security. Instead of focusing on the backward policies featured in today's Senate bill, it is time to move forward with American ingenuity and technology to cut our dependence on oil, save money at the gas pump, and curb global warming."
The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has offices in Berkeley, California, and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.