A couple years ago, the Obama administration predicted Americans would be using less gasoline thanks to federal fuel efficiency standards, but the opposite happened — U.S. gasoline use has boomed and liberals are taking notice.
U.S. gas consumption hit record highs this summer, beating out 2007, due to cheap prices and good driving weather, and the news has liberal politicians and activists calling for stricter fuel efficiency standards for cars and a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.
“This was not supposed to happen,” The Washington Post editorial board lamented, prompting the left-leaning newspaper to call on Congress to impose a carbon tax on fossil fuels. That would make gas more expensive, encouraging people to use it less and more efficiently.
Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse tweeted out the Post editorial, using it to tout a carbon tax bill he proposed last year.
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) September 12, 2016
Daniel Weiss, the head campaigner at the League of Conservations, said the news reinforced the need for a 54.5 miles per gallon fuel standard by 2025, which is what the Obama administration has mandated for new cars.
— Daniel J. Weiss (@DanJWeiss) September 12, 2016
In 2014, the Energy Department projected U.S. gasoline consumption would stay well below its 2007 peak, and continue to decline through 2040 mainly due to “more stringent vehicle fuel economy standards.”
But that’s not what happened.
U.S. hydraulic fracturing operations caused a boom in oil production that cut into market shares of OPEC countries and Russia. Oil prices began to plummet in summer 2014 from more than $100 per barrel to under $50 per barrel today.
Gasoline prices dropped from more than $3.60 a gallon to around $2.18 as of Monday. That price drop has caused more Americans to buy trucks and SUVs instead of smaller or electric cars.
Americans used 9.664 million barrels per day of gasoline in July 2016, which beat out the previous record of 9.640 million barrels per day from July 2007, according to Reuters.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a progress report on its fuel economy standards that admitted cheap gasoline was hindering their global warming goals.
EPA analysts said, based on current trends, vehicles would only get 50 to 52 miles per gallon — slightly short of the 54.5 miles per gallon mandate. In the real world, however, that only translates to about 36 miles per gallon by 2025.
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