Fuel Efficiency and the False Choice between Coastal Safety and Oil Supply

This morning, I am traveling to Louisiana to see for myself what the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster has done to this bountiful but deeply stressed region. I am going to meet with local environmental justice groups in New Orleans and talk with fishermen and biologists along the coast.

I want to hear what Louisianans have to say about this disaster, because they and their Gulf Coast neighbors are paying a very steep price for America’s failed energy policies.

In the days since the spill, some lawmakers have given Americans a false choice. They claim we must either drill for more oil offshore or import more oil from foreign regimes.

They refuse to talk about the other option: fuel efficiency.

We don’t have to risk American lives--either on dangerous offshore rigs at home or on frontlines in the Middle East--to power our cars and trucks. Making engines run farther on less fuel is the cheapest, safest, and cleanest choice we have.

Earlier this spring, President Obama announced cleaner car standards that will increase the fuel efficiency of America’s vehicles. By 2030, those standards will save 10.2 billion barrels of oil--that’s more oil than is included in the entire offshore area President Obama opened to drilling in March.

If we passed more comprehensive efficiency standards--including heavy-duty trucks, airplanes, and home-heating oil--by 2030 we could save approximately 26.5 billion barrels of oil more than the new offshore drilling areas contain.

We could even take a more efficient approach to domestic oil wells. Enhanced oil recovery from existing fields could supply more than 10 times the amount of oil that could be produced by drilling in our oceans over the same period.

These are some of the facts I will share with people I meet in Louisiana, because they are the ones suffering the consequences of America’s limited view of energy resources.

We don’t have to accept this disaster or believe it is the price we pay for filling up our gas tanks. We can demand our lawmakers pass clean energy and climate legislation that will make fuel-efficient engines and plug-in hybrids commonplace and slash our reliance on oil.

A new, clean energy policy is the best choice we have for protecting the Gulf of Mexico and all other coastal communities around our nation.