Strengthening national security was the primary motive for creating the CAFE standards more than 40 years ago. It’s just as relevant now, during a pivotal time of revision for the fuel-economy targets.
Even with the “shale revolution,” the United States must import 40 percent of the oil it consumes. Our dependence on oil as the only real fuel choice for the nation’s 250 million light-duty vehicles presents a grave threat to our men and women in uniform. The U.S. spends billions of dollars every year protecting oil production and supply routes in the Middle East.
Watch this clip from PUMP the Movie to get a glimpse of the enormous resources we must expend to ensure that the global economy gets all the oil it needs to keep running:
The Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 made America’s addiction to oil an urgent national issue. Sen. Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson of Washington state introduced the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. The bill was approved 60-25 by the Senate, and 255-148 by the House, and on Dec. 22, 1975 it was signed into law by President Gerald R. Ford.
Part A of Title III of the law established Corporate Average Fuel Economy benchmarks for all vehicles sold in the United States: For model year 1978, the target was set at 18 mpg, rising to 19 and then 20 by MY1980. Fuel efficiency climbed, then stalled. The last “reset” of the CAFE standards, in 2012, jump-started the progress again, setting the target for MY2025 at 54.5 mpg (which includes various credits — for EVs, flex-fuel vehicles and other fuel-saving technology).
According to the draft Technical Assessment Report (TAR) issued by two federal agencies and California’s Air Resources Board on July 18, lower gasoline prices and consumer demand for gas-hungry pickups and SUVs mean that 54.5 target likely can’t be reached. A more feasible number will fall between 50.0 and 52.6 mpg, the report said.
If drivers used less gasoline, and more high-octane alcohol fuels like E85, the price of oil would continue to decline and stay that way, robbing extremist groups of an essential revenue source. As a bonus, oil-exporting nations in the Persian Gulf (some of whom have been accused of sponsoring terrorism) would no longer command such disproportionate influence on the world stage.
Get involved. Visit our Policy CAFE page and learn more about the CAFE standards and how important they are. It’s not just bureaucratic words on a page. These rules have real-world impact. Improving fuel efficiency for the nation’s fleet of vehicles not only saves money, improves air quality and reduces damage to the environment. It protects those who have sworn to protect us.
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- Ending our oil addiction crucial to stopping future attacks
- A closer look at the U.S. role in defending oil interests
- America is, in fact, addicted to oil