Break the oil addiction with higher fuel-efficiency standards
Guest columnist Brenna Pink urges President Obama to make good on campaign promises to cut U.S. oil addiction. She argues one way is to set higher fuel-efficiency standards for new vehicles.
Special to The Times
THIS summer, my 6-year-old son Rocco has the luxury of spending his vacation playing outdoors with friends, without a care in the world. But when I look at this healthy, happy boy and consider the trajectory our country is on now, I'm greatly concerned that many of the freedoms he cherishes will be threatened when he's older.
Our dangerous dependence on oil is putting my son's future at the mercy of volatile oil prices and foreign oil-producing countries. If we don't start significantly cutting our oil use now, Rocco and the world he will inherit will be worse off.
Twenty years from now, I want Rocco and his peers to be driving electric cars and fuel-efficient hybrids, not army tanks in wars that are necessary to secure the oil that fuels our addiction. I want my son to be able to hop on a train powered by clean energy to get where he needs to go and not be burdened by filling up at the gas pump.
Fortunately, President Obama has a vision for this brighter future and a historic opportunity to finally steer America beyond oil. This September, his administration will propose new fuel-efficiency standards for cars and is considering making them as high as 62 miles per gallon by 2025. That would mean cars would use half the gasoline consumed by today's new vehicles, providing huge savings at the pump for American families and a dramatic reduction in our dependence on foreign oil.
Here in Seattle, we could really use that relief. In our neighborhood, there's no rail, no bus and no train that takes us from our side of town to the other. So in order to bring Rocco to elementary school and summer camp, or go to the grocery store and do errands, we're forced to take the car. And with today's skyrocketing gas prices, that routine is putting a big dent in my pocketbook and lowering our family's quality of life. I didn't even fill the tank at the gas station yesterday, and it still cost me $50.
While smart investments in public transportation will go a long way to help cut our oil addiction, building better, more fuel-efficient vehicles will be the key, as cars will still be necessary for many families. The technology to move forward is available; hybrids and electric cars are already saving real money at the pump, and electric-vehicle chargers are being installed throughout the nation.
Now is the time to take the next step. Once we make these cars the norm and not the exception to the rule, we can truly begin down the path to energy independence.
My husband and I are trying our best to make sure Rocco can enjoy a bright future. We have health insurance, we've started a college fund, and if available we'd want to get him "environmental insurance," so to speak. I expect our decision makers to handle that one.
I want to see Obama make good on his campaign promises to tackle climate change, reduce our dependence on oil and increase transportation choices. But until we see policies in place to achieve these goals, our future remains threatened.
We need to build better communities for walking, biking and taking transit. We need cars that get at least 60 miles to the gallon by 2025.
Mr. President, my son Rocco and millions of American children are depending on you to deliver that future.Brenna Pink lives in Seattle.