In particular, the President said the US would reduce its use of gasoline by 20 percent by 2017, implying this is a big sacrifice or a difficult thing to do. I must disagree. In the early 1980s, when we were dealing with the Second Oil Crisis, the US, without government intervention, reduced its consumption of gasoline by more than 12 percent and that was in about 2 years. The early eighties were a difficult time to be sure, and it was a time of big changes. Home computers were just being introduced. We carpooled to work. Interest rates were high. But people, prompted by the Energy Crisis of 1973, had already bought the smaller compact cars like the Ford Falcon and the Chrysler Lancer, and the GM Corvair followed by the Vega. So, as the older, bigger cars of the sixties and seventies were retired, the compacts made up a significant percentage of the US auto fleet. It took 12 years before US gasoline consumption reached the same level as 1979. That was when SUVs started coming into the fleet and gasoline prices were trending down.
Because this is factual history and not opinion, it seems the US should raise the bar on conservation a little higher than what Bush outlined in the speech. Today, we can telecommute to our jobs on some days. We can coordinate business activities and conduct remote learning via computers and digital video communication. And we have plenty of overnight delivery services to handle direct delivery. It doesn't seem that we need 10 years to save 20 percent when we saved 12 percent in only 2 - 3 years.