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March 22, 2011

Higher Gas Prices Should Lead to Better Public Transit, Gas Mileage

Gas-pump Gas prices continue to rise, so it's not at all surprising that a poll and a study from last week show that Americans are very worried about the cost and that the paying more at the pump will move more people toward public transit (if they have access to it).

These are yet more signs that we need to be offering more and better transportation choices in our nation.  Unfortunately, Newt Gingrich doesn't see it that way. Not surprisingly, Gingrich is calling for more drilling.

We all know drilling is not the answer to high prices at the pump or our addiction to oil - especially as we see more oil in the Gulf of Mexico today and another tragic spill covering penguins in oil in the South Atlantic.

Innovation and choices are the real solutions.

A poll from the Consumer Federation of American shows that "(n)ine of 10 U.S. adults are concerned about rising gas prices, and 79% say they are 'greatly' concerned -- up from 58% a year ago."

The poll also shows that:

  • Almost 60% of Americans support a 60 mile per gallon fuel efficiency standard for new cars and light trucks by 2025.
  • 62% of Americans said they'd pay more for a car that uses less oil if they can make back their investment within five years.

It is because the Obama Administration took steps to ratchet up standards for 2012-2016 model year vehicles to 35.5 miles per gallon that automakers are bragging now about all of their vehicles that top 40 miles per gallon. This is the innovation and choice that will help us move beyond oil.

High gas prices are also leading more Americans to transit, according to the American Public Transportation Association's study released last week:
  • If regular gas prices reach $4 a gallon across the nation...an additional 670 million passenger trips could be expected, resulting in more than 10.8 billion trips per year.
  • If pump prices jump to $5 a gallon, an additional 1.5 billion passenger trips can be expected, resulting in more than 11.6 billion trips per year.
  • And if prices were to soar to $6 a gallon, expectations go as high as an additional 2.7 billion passenger trips, resulting in more than 12.9 billion trips per year.

Americans are demanding better transportation choices so as not to be held hostage by ever-increasing gas prices. That's why we're rallying public support to raise fuel efficiency standards for new cars to at least 60 miles per gallon.

We know that American ingenuity and technology can make all new cars and trucks more fuel-efficient. It's one of the biggest steps we can take towards saving money at the gas pump, cleaning up our air, and ending America's oil dependence.

But the answer to higher gas prices also involves investing in efficient new public transit and maintaining and updating our existing systems, as well as in biking and walking infrastructure. This can connect jobs, shopping and our homes and create clean and convenient alternatives to driving.

Again - choices and innovation are the real solutions, not more drilling.

-- Ann Mesnikoff, Director of the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign


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