On Anniversary of BP Oil Disaster, Science Group Stresses Oil Savings from Detroit

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

One year after the tragic explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig led to the worst oil disaster in U.S. history, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reminded Americans this week that we have a valuable resource for curbing U.S. oil consumption: Detroit ingenuity.

“Drilling Detroit not for new oil supplies but for new solutions saves us money at the gas pump, cleans up our air, and cuts our oil dependence,” said David Friedman, deputy director of UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Building cleaner and more efficient vehicles creates jobs here in America without putting coastal communities at risk. The best way to reduce America’s oil dependence is simply to make our supplies go further.”

U.S. automakers are beginning to market cars and light trucks that go farther on a gallon of gas. Chevrolet’s 2011 Cruze Eco, for example, is rated to get 37 to 42 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway. The 2011 Ford Explorer, meanwhile, gets 20 percent better fuel economy than the previous year’s model. Both the Cruze Eco and the Explorer have conventional engine technology. Ford also is offering a hybrid version of its 2011 MKZ, which is rated at 41 mpg in the city, at the same price as its conventional counterpart.

President Obama recently announced the goal of reducing oil imports by a third by 2025. As part of reaching that goal, the administration is drafting the next round of fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for new cars and trucks. These standards could be as strong as 60 mpg and 143 grams-per-mile carbon dioxide equivalent for new cars and light trucks sold in model year 2025.

According to UCS analysis, the strongest standards under consideration would reduce oil consumption, cut global warming emissions, and save a vehicle owner $7,500 over the lifetime of the vehicle at a gasoline price of $3.50 per gallon, the equivalent of saving a dollar per gallon compared with today’s vehicles. They also would cumulatively save as much as 270 billion gallons of gasoline through 2030. In 2030 alone, the standards could save as much as 100 million gallons daily, which is more than the United States currently imports from the Persian Gulf, and nearly five times what could be produced from drilling in offshore areas previously off limits.

“Last year’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico reminded us once again of the high costs of drilling for oil,” said Jim Kliesch, research director for UCS’ Clean Vehicles program. “Instead of rolling the dice on offshore oil exploration, the United States should make the oil we consume go further by requiring automakers to make cleaner, more efficient vehicles. When Detroit engineers put their ingenuity to work, they can do great things.”