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Congress Fails Us Again

Editorial for April 28, 2005

Our representatives in Congress have let us down again.

On April 14, the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- chaired by U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R.-Texas) -- voted against a proposal to increase the average fuel efficiency of American automobiles by the year 2014.

The committee has been working on the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the suggestion to call for better gas mileage was one part of the overall package under consideration.

The vote of the committee members was 36-10.

In a vote by the full House on a virtually identical measure on April 20, an effort by House Democrats to add the provision to boost fuel efficiency failed in a 254-177 vote.

Voters of Klickitat County should know that our U.S. Rep., Doc Hastings (R.-4th District) voted against asking automakers to improve fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, it's a stand he has taken consistently.

On one hand, these results are shocking. But it's almost what we've come to expect from our representatives in Washington, D.C.

In an era of decreasing supply and increasing costs for energy, getting more value out of a gallon of gas is more than just common sense -- it's national self-preservation. Still most of them vote to oppose being more efficient. It's almost like they want to encourage waste of our resources.

The provision would have directed American automakers to come up with ways to raise the overall miles-per-gallon of our automobiles from 27.5 mpg to 33 mpg over the next eight years. That would have represented a relatively modest 20 percent improvement in gas mileage.

Here's what our Congress turned down: The better fuel mileage standards would have reduced consumption of petroleum in the United States by about 610,000 barrels per day by 2015 (the United States uses about 21 million barrels of oil and petroleum products every day, and imports about three-fifths of that). It would have lowered the project import of petroleum from 62.4 percent to 61.6 percent by 2015. It would have reduced C02 emissions by 1.1 percent by 2015.

Rather than ask American automakers to be innovative, our Congress chooses to turn its back on reality. Indeed, there are already numerous proven methods out there to boost fuel mileage. All that's lacking is the will to go further in that direction.

Don't worry about anything, a majority of the men and women of Congress seem to be saying. Let's just keep going the way we're going with our blinders on. We don't need to try to improve. We don't need to bother with trying to be more efficient.

What colossal fools.

JB

END Editorial

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