Issue Date: May 21, 2007
Bush Will Curb Gas Use, Eventually
President George W. Bush announced on May 14 his plan to issue regulations reducing gasoline consumed by vehicles. He also called on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Transportation to coordinate writing of the regulations, which won't be required until he leaves office.
The regulatory proposal, the President said, would implement his previously announced "20 in 10" plan to reduce motor vehicle gasoline consumption by 20% in 10 years. In a White House announcement, however, he gave the departments until the end of 2008 to complete the regulation.
The 20% cut would work out to around 28 billion gal less gas consumed yearly. The U.S. currently consumes around 140 billion gal of gas per year. Some 8 billion gal would be saved through new vehicle efficiency standards, which would increase by 4% per year from 2010 through 2017. The other 20 billion gal of gasoline savings would come through production of 35 billion gal of ethanol, which is mixed with gasoline.
The Administration says the proposal is its response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that EPA has the authority to regulate CO2 emissions. The Administration had argued that EPA lacked such powers without legislation, and it had blocked states from taking action on their own against CO2 (C&EN, April 9, page 9).
Bush's proposal was immediately blasted by critics, including states, members of Congress, and environmental groups who seek faster and deeper cuts in gasoline usage.
"It appears that the President wants to run out the clock to the end of his term without addressing our energy needs," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The House, she continued, intends to introduce by July 4 an energy initiative package that would include regulation of vehicle gasoline consumption.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, said the lack of standards in the Bush proposal will encourage Americans to look to Congress for action. "Solid bipartisan majorities in two Senate committees recently reported bills to create specific, meaningful new standards for biofuels and vehicle fuel economy," he added.
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