Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) just released the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee 2011 agenda. His first two priorities are to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from setting carbon pollution standards and to relax environmental protections associated with oil production in order to protect consumers from rising fuel prices.
Sorry to say, Mr. Upton’s agenda will do nothing to reduce gasoline prices and result in drivers paying more at the pump. But as the U.S. Department of Energy's projections show, more drilling will do nothing to reduce what drivers are paying at the pump now or in the near future.
The best way to protect consumers from rising fuel prices at the pump is to make our cars more fuel efficient. The Environmental Protection Agency carbon pollution standards for 2016 will raise the fuel economy of new cars to 34.1 mpg and save drivers $3,000 over life of the vehicle. The next generation standards have the potential to raise fuel economy to as high as 62 mpg, and save drivers as much as an additional $7,000 over the life of vehicle.
In contrast, rushing to exploit offshore oil will have little to no impact on gas prices before 2030, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would only change gas prices by 4 cents per gallon in 2026—an amount that equals about $23 per year for the average driver—or about $345 over the life of an average car. (See NRDC’s fact sheet for more information on how these savings were calculated).
Chairman Upton’s agenda: more air pollution, greater dependency on oil, and bigger fuel bills at the pump. Let’s hope the House comes to its senses -- soon.