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Taking Our Foot Off the Global Warming Accelerator

Environment  (tags: animals, climate-change, climatechange, CO2emissions, conservation, destruction, ecosystems, energy, environment, globalwarming, habitatdestruction, healthconditions, nature, humans, pollution, protection, research, science, Sustainabililty, trees, water )

- 1851 days ago -
Moench proposes a way "to cut energy waste and reduce the nation's emissions of greenhouse gases [that] is very simple, relatively painless and would actually save consumers money immediately, with no upfront costs."

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Kit B (276)
Friday March 29, 2013, 12:58 pm
(Photo: Gary Brown / Flickr)

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama said, in reference to the climate crisis, "If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."

Last month, 70 environmental groups signed a letter to President Obama urging him to bypass Congress and use his executive authority to address the climate crisis in multiple ways. Key among those recommendations was yet another call to reject the Keystone Pipeline. As important as that is, there is even lower-hanging fruit that so far is being overlooked by the President and apparently forgotten by the environmental community.

The President specifically urged Americans to cut in half the energy wasted in homes and business over the next 20 years. One of the easiest and most benign ways to cut energy waste and reduce the nation's emissions of greenhouse gases is very simple, relatively painless and would actually save consumers money immediately, with no upfront costs - restore a lower national freeway speed limit of 55 mph. It requires no technological innovation, merely a societal acceptance of the imperative to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

During World War II, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt mandated a nationwide 35 mph speed limit. At the time, that was considered the most efficient speed for automobiles and would also preserve tires (Japan had cut off American access to natural rubber from Southeast Asia).

In 1973, Republican President Richard Nixon responded to the Arab Oil Embargo by mandating a drop in national freeway speed limits to 55 mph. Congress passed the corresponding legislation, the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, setting the new national maximum speed limit. The act also prohibited the Department of Transportation from approving or funding any projects within states that did not comply with the new speed limit. That law lasted for over 21 years until 1995, when gasoline cost $1.10 a gallon, oil was $17 a barrel and global warming was just becoming a boutique topic of conversation. Obviously so much has changed since then.

Vehicles generally get the highest gas mileage somewhere between 45 and 55 mph, says David L. Greene of the National Transportation Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee. Doubling speed from 40 to 80 mph increases drag resistance fourfold.

In 2009, Consumer Reports tested seven different models of cars. The average drop in fuel efficiency was 25% when speeds were increased from 55 to 75 mph. Nationwide implementation of such a speed limit drop would decrease American oil consumption about 4%, or 280 million barrels a year [1]. That is more than currently comes from the Alaska Pipeline and about the same as the Keystone Pipeline would carry at full capacity.

While no one expects the current Congress to pass any such law, given the paralysis inflicted by the House Republicans' allergy to science, several court rulings have upheld the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases (GHG) from multiple sources. Fuel efficiency standards for mobile sources have been established in Section 202 of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The basis for those regulations were upheld by the Supreme Court in a 2007 ruling that "greenhouse gases fit well within the Act's capacious definition of 'air pollutant'" and that EPA therefore has statutory authority to regulate GHG emissions from new motor vehicles.

In June 2012 and again in December 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the EPA's authority to regulate GHG emissions.

If the EPA has the authority to regulate fuel efficiency and GHG related to the manufacturing of motor vehicles, then it should also have the authority to establish a national speed limit to address those same issues during the use of those vehicles.

If winning World War II and the Arab oil embargo were sufficient reasons to lower national speed limits, then avoiding the climate crisis should be an even more compelling reason to do so.

Rejecting the Keystone Pipeline would not only defuse the "carbon bomb" that is the Alberta Tar Sands, it is also a symbolic "line in the sand" that we will not allow the fossil fuel industry to cross in pursuit of profits. Also lowering speed limits will symbolize that neither will we allow our own continued profligate use of fossil fuels to go unchecked. Both will be necessary to avoid a planet too hostile for the survival of modern civilization.
****Links within article at VISIT SITE****

By Dr Brian Moench, Truthout | Op-Ed |


1. "Saving Oil in a Hurry: Oil Demand Restraint in Transport," by International Energy Agency, Workshop: Managing Oil Demand in Transport, Paris, 7-8 March, 2005

lee e (114)
Friday March 29, 2013, 5:20 pm
I would hope that the President would have the gonads to stand up against the oil/gas industry and Canada to prove his point - but I don't think those two imposing threats to our country are "strong" enough to keep our President from doing the most devastating action to the planet and to this country - I only hope I'm being cynical - but I tend to think that's the way an Oligarchy behaves - and I guess our Commander is one of the upper echelon, and we're not going to sacrifice the buck for the planet!

Lin Penrose (92)
Friday March 29, 2013, 5:21 pm
Thanks Kit for this reminder. While on a road trip a few years ago, it was my turn to drive and was going 55 mph. A sign told me the limit. My trip companion fidgeted for some time, then exclaimed "you are probably the only person in this state (Idaho) who is going 55"! Yes, I did receive the 3rd digit wag a few times from passersby also. Phooie on them. Phooie on me too now. Staying with the traffic speed signs at 65, I still get the Penis flaggers. I have my own retorts, though no one can hear them and they are better left to the imagination. I also know I'm saving fuel, future problems with my car, and reducing my personal impact on our home. So I chalk up a couple of points against the ones that I lose some where along my daily life.


Kit B (276)
Friday March 29, 2013, 5:27 pm

I fully expect that pipeline to go through, and it will be toxic to our most precious aquifers, to our farming land and of course to the air we breath. It will leak, every pipeline ever built all over this globe has had minor and ignored leaks or major leaks that were finally patched up. Does anyone think the Gulf of Mexico is now or will be safe in the foreseeable future? Big oil owns this government, to think otherwise is foolish.

Learn the facts about OIL, READ: "Vultures Picnic" by Greg Palast.

Kit B (276)
Friday March 29, 2013, 5:30 pm

Lin that was funny! Even in the years of 55mph no one in Texas followed those signs. Of course the norm here is about 75 -80 on the open roads. One tollway loop I use on the way south to San Antonio is posted for 80mph. Most are moving much faster than that.

JL A (281)
Friday March 29, 2013, 7:46 pm
I heard the most stories about Montana in those efficiencies in the homes do not call for that much--don't most use power strips for computers? Use them on TV, sound systems and kitchen appliances, too!

Ramu Reddy (8)
Friday March 29, 2013, 7:47 pm

David C (133)
Friday March 29, 2013, 8:05 pm
...of course, this would mean Americans would have to take their foot off the accelerators of their BIG NECESSARY SUV MACHINES THAT THEY LIKE TO RACE ALL OVER THE ROAD AS FAST AS ABLE.....even here in the midwest where people are supposed to be sane and patient 70 mph is slow on our state highways including the big yucky gas guzzlers.....of course, the trash on the side of the road drives me crazy, too.

Care member (1)
Friday March 29, 2013, 8:08 pm

greenplanet e (155)
Friday March 29, 2013, 11:19 pm
Yeah, we need to halt climate change and cut CO2 emissions!

Darren Woolsey (218)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 12:43 am
Thanks for sharing this. . .passing around

Ro H (0)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 4:35 am

PlsNoMessage se (588)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 5:04 am
Noted and thanks for sharing

Craig Pittman (52)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 5:08 am
It's a good idea and a small step in the right direction but I doubt that it will go through or be observed/enforced if it does. I believe too many people including our corporate governments are counting on technology to come to the rescue to offset the effects of global warming.
Canada already has plans to pump tar sands oil through an existing pipeline east across Canada to the Atlantic coast and the southern pipeline will probably be built anyway.
Good story Kit. It gets us thinking and discussing. Thanks.

S S (0)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 5:34 am
Thank you.

Ben O (171)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:24 am
Well, well, well...talking the talk...
Internationally it has been done since the UN Stockholm Conference in 1972!
The Declaration: (That isn't worth a bag of beans!)
So, when Hell freezes over, maybe...???

Ben O (171)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:26 am
...I know that I shouldn't be so pessimistic, but give me reasons not to, please...

Ben O (171)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:28 am
"Beacause we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us"
(Henrik Tikkanen)

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:38 am
What a sense of humor, "merely a societal acceptance ", damn, you can't even get the current limits enforced. While you at, why not make it the law to have your tire pressure correct?

Sandi C (99)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 7:58 am

Rupert W. (0)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 8:52 am
The most effective measure an individual can take it to adopt a plant-based vegan diet. Look it up, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Michela M (3964)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 10:30 am
Thanks!!! Noted!!

Varcolac Veroscarius (93)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 10:59 am

Tammy B (9)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 11:01 am

Michela M (3964)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 11:45 am

Thanks! Posted in:  ORANGUTANS: Men of the Forest
in:  CLIMATE CHANGE: News, Pics, Videos
Please Join & Invite friends to Join
ORANGUTANS: Men of the Forest
together with Sumatran Tigers (Java & Bali Tigers already EXTINCT), Elephants, Rhinos, Clouded Leopards, Sun Bears, Wildlife, Biodiversity they face Extinction!! Only 300 Sumatran Tigers left on Earth!!! 300 Football Fields of Rainforests are CLEARED every hour in SE Asia to produce Palm Oil: a hidden, not labelled, unhealthy ingredient in the products we buy. We MUST do WHATEVER is possible to SAVE them all!!
AGAINST: Corporate Control, Deforestation, Illegal Logging, Global Warming, Pollution, CO2Emissions, Indigenous Peoples Displacement, Pet Trade, GMO Food, Vivisection… Also other Primates, as Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Gibbons, & Monkeys for Vivisection are dealt in this Group. Petitions/Info/Videos/Pics are here.
Please!! Join, Sign, Invite friends to Join!! Individually: we are one DROP, all together: we are an OCEAN!! ALL together we can make a difference!! Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world -Margaret Mead Thanks!! Michela

. (0)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 12:03 pm
"If the Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will". We are still waiting over 4 years for you to "act".

Birgit W (160)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 12:32 pm

James Doeppers (0)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 12:54 pm

Connie O (44)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 1:18 pm
I think the only way people would drive the speed limit is if their vehicle could only go that fast!

Mary Donnelly (47)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 1:22 pm
Thanks KIt.

Aletta Kraan (146)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 1:50 pm
Noted , thanks, glad I do not drive !!

Anna M (18)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 4:06 pm
noted, thanks

Angelflowers D (85)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 4:48 pm

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:21 pm
TY, N, P

Winn A (179)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:34 pm

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:41 pm
Driving under 60 does improve the carbon emission levels. However NOTHING comes close to the massive amounts of pollution to all elements and loss of habitat that will be saved once enlightened humans stop eating animals altogether.

Esther Z (94)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 10:28 pm
Noted. Thanks, Kit.

Sonny Honrado (5)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 10:32 pm

Lynn D (0)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 3:06 am
Thank you!

Laurel Rohrer (0)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 3:56 am

Ana Lopes (92)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 8:55 am
Thank you for sharing

Wim Zunnebeld (144)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 2:05 pm
Thx for the info

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 2:55 pm
Thanks, Kit. Unfortunately, I didn't see anywhere in the article anything about ending dirty energy subsidies, or raising their taxes or imposing stronger regulations with more oversight & accountability.

pam w (139)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 5:31 pm
Kit's right...big oil DOES own this country. Look at the Bush/Cheny mob and how they ran the nation into blind obedience to oil's dictates. If we had seriously turned to clean, natural energy even a few decades ago...think how much better off we'd be now.
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