Monday, May 19, 2008

May 19: It's the Fuel Economy, Stupid

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Will this country get the first president in 30 years who does something serious about fuel economy?

The last one was Jimmy Carter. For all his mistakes, his energy policy wasn't one of them. Laugh as the country did at his "Thermostat at 78" and other provisions, there might not now be a global warming crisis if his White House successors had stuck to what Carter laid out.

Ronald Reagan and both Bushes abandoned any sound energy policy completely. Bill Clinton did listen a bit to his vice president (Al Gore) - who, recall, knows a little bit about the environment - but also had too much of an ear for big business.

Well, there's no longer a choice. Actually, there is. Do the current presidential candidates want to save the planet, or don't they?

Here are the policies, courtesy of the Dayton Daily News:

Of the current candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton may have the best energy policy, especially the recommendation for cars with fuel standards of 55 miles per gallon.

Sen. Barack Obama recently mentioned a 35 mile-per-gallon standard in a speech; the Daily News article says he recommends double the current rate. When one has an SUV that chugs along at 10 miles per gallon, double isn't quite good enough.

McCain's lack of specifics on his fuel standard policy also isn't good enough.

(Incidentally, neither is his insistence on sticking to the Republican Party line supporting nuclear power. If it's put in bombs to kill, and if it has killed (Remember Chernobyl in 1986?), why should Americans still want it in their homes?)

The candidates know precisely what has to be done to help Americans avoid those rising fuel bills and protect the environment. The question is whether they have the political backbone to do so. This November, the answer from voters frustrated with gas prices should be: It's the fuel economy, stupid.

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