The U.S. uses roughly 20 million barrels of oil every single day, and about 60% of that is imported. About 10 million of those barrels are used in transportation, including the kinds of cars and trucks you and I drive, plus all the planes, trains, heavy trucks and off-road vehicles in the country.
Yet, our entire effort to reduce our dependence on oil is based on Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations (CAFE). And that only impacts passenger cars and light trucks. In other words, the industry that causes less than 50% of the problem is bearing 100% of the effort to fix it. No other industry is being regulated to reduce our dependence on oil, and that doesn't look like a very effective approach to me.
John McElroy is host of the TV program "Autoline Detroit" and daily web video "Autoline Daily". Every week he brings his unique insights as an auto industry insider to Autoblog readers.
Worse yet, it takes 20 years to turn over the fleet of vehicles in this country. In other words, the last of the 2009 models being sold today will not be out of circulation until 2029. So, for example, when CAFE mandates that new vehicles average 35 miles per gallon by 2020, the full fleet of vehicles in the United States will not reach that until 2040. This is absolutely the slowest solution we could ever think up to try and fix the problem.
While the government says it wants to reduce our dependence on oil, it does everything in its power to keep oil as cheap as possible. We won't even contemplate a tax on imported oil. Instead, we only enact fuel economy rules for cars.
Let's get something straight. Oil is a poison. It poisons our atmosphere when we burn it. It poisons our economy when we import it. So why is our solution to try to and use this poison more efficiently? If something is poisoning you, you stop taking the poison!
If we're going to solve our oil addiction, and solve it soon, we need to take other actions. It's not only unfair to force the auto industry to bear the entire burden, it's not effective. The root cause of the problem is not the cars we drive, it's the fuel we burn. When are we going to address the root cause of the problem?
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