Addicted to what? I couldn#039;t quite hear you, W

by Beacon Staff • February 8, 2006

What a bold, honest and long overdue statement made by President George W. Bush during his recent State of the Union address.

America is indeed addicted to oil, and we need to detox immediately.

The most significant action the US can take right now is for Congress to dramatically raise requirements for automobile fuel efficiency.,"America is addicted to oil."

What a bold, honest and long overdue statement made by President George W. Bush during his recent State of the Union address.

America is indeed addicted to oil, and we need to detox immediately.

The most significant action the US can take right now is for Congress to dramatically raise requirements for automobile fuel efficiency.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger cars of 27.5 miles per gallon have not changed in two decades, and for trucks, the standard has increased by only two gallons, to 22.2 mpg, in 15 years.

This is unacceptable. There should be a single standard for all vehicles, and that standard must exceed 30 miles per gallon, preferably more.

There also needs to be greater enforcement and stiffer penalties for automakers that do not adhere to this level. Many towns and cities across the United States have invested in low and zero-emission vehicles for public transportation fleets, and this should continue.

The use of public transportation should be encouraged, including restrictions on private vehicle use within city limits.

In terms of private vehicles, with so many formidable four-wheelers prowling suburban streets, it is evident that the American way of allowing the market to determine the practicality and popularity of a given product is not working.

In its place, it would be nice to change the meaning of SUV from "sports utility vehicle" to "special use vehicle," and, in doing so, prohibit the general population from purchasing these automotive monsters. Only those with legitimate need would be allowed, and any number of government agencies could be charged with defining "legitimate."

These suggestions address energy consumption.

It is also important that Americans re-learn the meaning of energy conservation.

There is no better way to support the troops than by not driving that Suburban adorned in "support our troops" ribbons. Grouping errands, as well as walking and biking whenever possible, are small, personal changes in routine that can yield enormous national benefits.

Alternative energy advocates also support a gas tax, arguing that Americans will alter their driving habits if they find their wallets thinning. However, if recent gas price increases are of any indication, Americans will pay nearly any amount to maintain their mobile lifestyles.

In spite of the enormous outcry last summer, there was no significant shift in driving habits.

In our quest for alternative fuels, we must not replace oil with oil. Environmental concerns aside, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would be an egregious mistake.

We cannot forget the veracity of the president's words: we are literally addicted to oil. Offsetting imports from one part of the world to another is the same as a heroin addict purchasing from a new dealer.

ANWR does not alleviate the problem, it perpetuates it.

President Bush wants energy independence tomorrow, but that is not good enough because tomorrow never comes.

Without bold action immediately, stated progress that lacks real results seems sufficient.

It is not sufficient. Oil kills and ruins lives, both here in America and elsewhere in the world. As the leading consumer of energy, we bear ultimate responsibility for that plight.

It's time to kick the habit.