WASHINGTON - September 2 - Following is a statement by Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists:
"President Bush is failing to help Americans combat gas shortages and escalating costs at the pump. It is woefully inadequate simply to ask people not to buy gas unless they need it. Yes, the President should be asking people to drive less, but many Americans have no other way to get to work or to the grocery store. The President must reverse course, and take the lead in providing relief in the near term and solving this problem in the long term.
"Immediately, Americans should carpool, telecommute or take public transit if they can. If they must drive, they should make sure to pump up their tires, take any extra weight out of their vehicle, drive a little slower and get that tune-up they have been putting off. If they are in the market for a new car, they should not be taken in by Detroit's huge discounts on gas- guzzlers, but should instead be clear on what they need and then get the most fuel-efficient model that they can. We need to demand that America's automakers offer more fuel-efficient alternatives, especially when it comes to minivans, SUVs and pickups.
"President Bush needs to do everything he can now to help the people being affected by Hurricane Katrina, but real leadership is also needed in the weeks ahead to set binding targets to dramatically reduce US oil consumption. The President should significantly raise national fuel economy standards -- as we have the technology to do -- so vehicles of all sizes come to the market with better gas mileage. The President should also abolish federal loopholes that encourage gas guzzling and ask Congress to do the same. In the place of loopholes, the President should call for incentives to auto suppliers and manufacturers to get them on the right track to producing more fuel-efficient vehicles. He should also call for elimination of the cap on recently passed consumer incentives for hybrids -- we need consumers to purchase as many high fuel economy hybrids as the automakers can produce.
"Our political leaders need to start learning from history instead of repeating it. The shortages and price spikes we are witnessing now are part of a larger problem and a longer trend. Our leaders need to summon the courage and wisdom to demand much more efficient cars and trucks on America's roads -- and in so doing will save families money, strengthen national security by lessening our dependence on oil, and reduce harmful global warming pollution."