In his State of the Union address tonight, President Bush will offer plenty of lofty goals on energy, but the devil is in the details. With loopholes big enough to drive an SUV through, his plan fails to guarantee that car makers will do their share to break our dependence on oil, and could actually increase global warming pollution.
While it is heartening that the President has called for an increase in fuel economy, he has provided no guarantee that consumers ever see the benefits. For example, there is no guarantee that the actual miles per gallon of the cars on the road will increase as the President has failed to call for a specific increase in the fuel economy standard.
President Bush to date has failed to meaningfully raise fuel economy standards, which is the best way to reduce our dependence on oil. Had the President increased the fuel economy of cars and SUVs to 40 miles per gallon by 2012 when he took office in 2001– which the National Academy of Sciences says is possible over the next 10 years – we would have consumed 500,000 barrels of oil less per day in 2006, and saved $8.7 billion at the pump.
Perhaps the dirtiest detail is the President’s plan to change the Renewable Fuels Standard to an Alternative Fuel Standard. This a small change in name that could mean a big change in pollution. Alternatives fuels could include “coal to liquids” that create double the global warming pollution of traditional gasoline.
The United States can reduce global warming pollution using energy efficiency and renewable energy and in so doing also break our reliance on fossil fuels, enhance our long-term economic and national security, and once again lead the world as a positive force for change.
We welcome the Presidents goal of a new energy future, but it is time for real solutions, not just more loopholes and empty rhetoric.