Really, filling up your tires and tuning up your car would make a bigger impact than more drilling

August 1, 2008 | By | 8 Replies More

Newt Gingrich recently ridiculed Barack Obama’s suggestion for a way to immediately save LOTS of oil: make sure your tires are filled with sufficient air and make sure your car is tuned up. Who’s right? According to Think Progress, it’s Obama.

Obama is correct to suggest that inflating tires properly and getting regular tune-ups “could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling” — and by a long shot. According to the Energy Information Administration, if Congress lifted the moratorium on offshore drilling, by 2030, oil crude production in the “lower-48″ outer continental shelf will increase by about 200,000 barrels per day. By contrast, the production offset based on Obama’s proposal will likely approach 800,000 barrels per day, immediately.

Seeing that this issue is finally being debated publicly gives me some satisfaction. The immense amount of oil saved by properly filling our tires is one of the first topics I wrote for DI (2 1/2 years ago). Some of the statistics I cited in my post are as startling as Newt Gingrich’s arrogance and ignorance. If you think I’m exaggerating, take a look at the Think Progress site’s video to watch Gingrich farting out of his mouth.

For at least a decade, we’ve had a trend where Republicans would rather look bombastic than use their brains. It wouldn’t bother me so much if it weren’t destroying out way of life.

BTW, you can always detect weak-minded people. They are afraid to give their “opponents” their best foot forward. Let’s assume that we will eventually have to drill for more oil in the US (though this would be unwise for the reasons Al Gore has made famous). Even assuming that we had to drill more, it is clearly true that Obama’s practical advice would have a substantial impact. An honest politician would admit that Obama’s idea was a good one as a prelude to making his or her own proposal.

An honest news media would pillory Gingrich for his ignorance rather than simply promulgating his ignorant rant.

This raises the issue of why so many conservatives bristle at conservation. I suspect that they fall prey to the illusion that motion is progress. They would rather do something physically dramatic than act in an intelligent way that doesn’t give rise to photo ops. Hence, drilling oil, digging coal, bombing anyone that moves and constantly waving flags are much more attractive to them than conserving oil, working out political differences or protecting constitutional rights.

It’s time to elect smarter politicians who appreciate that taking real steps to save energy, such as insulating home, constructing more energy-efficient buildings, downsizing cars, and tapping into renewable energy are real solutions. Much of the American public is not ready for thoughtful politicians yet. Maybe we’ve lost the critical mass of voters necessary to make it ever again possible, because there are huge numbers of drill-and-bomb voters out there . . .


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Category: Energy, Environment, ignorance, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (8)

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    I disagree.

    There aren't so "many drill and bomb voters out there" but, the left has continuously allowed itself to be framed by the fascist corporatist right as "hating Americans" or "tree huggers" or "liberals" and has continuously failed and refused to mount any effective counters to the drumbeats from the Axis of Ignorance of the right.

    Context is decisive. The context of the past several elections since Bill Clinton's successes (query whether absent Mr. Perot, BC would've been successful)has been one much as Erich described in his recent post about "the burden of proof." Until there are counter-frames developed, supported, and broadly exposed to the public, the past 40 years of the drumbeats from the Axis of Ignorance of the right will continue to define politics in America, and shape the future of the world.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Over a couple hundred million vehicles, those shavings add up. The Department of Energy estimated in 2005 that U.S. motorists wasted 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline a year from driving on underinflated tires — roughly 61 million barrels of oil.

    By comparison, the U.S. Department of Interior says there are 17.9 billion barrels of oil available off-shore in areas under the federal drilling ban…

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration said last year that new off-shore drilling could add about 200,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. output — not enough to have “a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.”

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Speaking to a crowd in Berea, Ohio, Obama went off on a riff, laughing at Republicans who are isolating his call for tire inflation as the linchpin of his energy plan. After noting that his energy policy has a lot more to it, Obama circled back to wonder why Republicans were choosing to mock an idea, small though it was, that could actually help matters.

    "Now two points," Obama told the crowd. "One, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by three to four percent. It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant."

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Here's more people piling on to the pump-up-your-tires approach to saving fuel:

    But who's really out of touch? The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right.,8599,…

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    The United States has only 2% of the world’s proven oil reserves, but consumes 24% of the world’s oil production.

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