Time.com reports that since Monday, gleeful Republicans have made this their daily talking point, Rush Limbaugh is having a field day, and the Republican National Committee is sending tire gauges labeled "Barack Obama's Energy Plan" to Washington reporters.
The Bush administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 barrels per day by 2030. We use about 20 million barrels 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 by 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone else did, we could reduce demand several percentage points immediately.
In other words: Obama is right.
The real problem with the attacks on his tire gauge plan is that efforts to improve conservation and efficiency happen to be the best approaches to dealing with the energy crisis — the cheapest, cleanest, quickest and easiest ways to ease our addiction to oil, reduce our pain at the pump and address global warming. It's a pretty simple concept: if our use of fossil fuels is increasing our reliance on Middle Eastern dictators while destroying the planet, maybe we ought to use less.
The McCain Camp is trying to make the tire gauge a symbol of unseriousness, as if only the most foolish of Americans believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil without doing the bidding of Big Oil. But the tire gauge is really a symbol of a very serious piece of good news: We can use significantly less energy without significantly changing our lifestyle.
The energy guru Amory Lovins has shown that investment in "nega-watts" — reduced electricity use through efficiency improvements — is much more cost-effective than investment in new megawatts, and the same is clearly true of nega-barrels. It might not fit the worldviews of right-wing global-warming denyers who insist that reducing emissions would destroy our economy, or left-wing earth-firsters who insist that maintaining our creature comforts would destroy the world, but there's a lot of simple things we can do on the demand side before we start rushing to ratchet up supply.
There are other energy efficient things we can do to cut down our reliance on foreign oil: we can use those twisty carbon fluorescent light bulbs. We can unplug our televisions, computers and phone chargers when we're not using them. We can seal our windows, install more insulation and adjust our thermostats so that we waste less heat and air conditioning. We can use more efficient appliances, build more efficient homes and drive more efficient cars, preferably with government assistance. And yes, we can inflate our tires and tune our engines. While we're at it, we can cut down on idling (by getting out of our cars instead of sitting in fast food drive-thru lanes), which can improve fuel economy another 5%, and cut down on speeding and unnecessary acceleration, which can increase mileage as much as 20%.
To spotlight the "inflating their tires" part of the quote, the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee have been handing tire gauges out to reporters in sarcastic celebration of Obama's birthday on August 4th.
The RNC is giddy with excitement over this latest "gaffe" by Obama, in a press release they wrote:
...the RNC is providing members of the media with complimentary tools related to Barack Obama’s energy plan – a brand new tire gauge. Because, instead of actually increasing America’s domestic oil supply, this is how Obama thinks Americans should try to alleviate burdensome pain at the pump.
The McCain campaign also used the tire gauge gimmick in a fundraising plea today:
Today, I'm asking for your help in putting Senator Obama's 'tire gauge' energy policy to the test. With an immediate donation of $25 or more, we will send you an "Obama Energy Plan" tire pressure gauge. Will simply inflating your tires reduce the financial burden of high gas prices on your wallet?
Now the Obama campaign has responded to the tire gauge rhetoric:
As Senator McCain knows, Barack Obama has a comprehensive plan to provide real relief to Americans struggling with soaring prices and make the long-term investments we need to break our addiction to oil.
And while the McCain team may is busy amusing themselves, the fact is that the idea they’re attacking is supported by, among others, top McCain surrogate Joe Lieberman, conference call host Mike Rogers, Governors Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Department of Energy, and NASCAR — all of whom have urged Americans to help save energy by minding tire pressure. But hey, who ever let the facts — or supporters’ positions — get in the way of a political attack? Aboard the Low Road Express, that’s no problem at all.
Read the entire Time.com article about McCain and Obama's Tire Gauge Policy here.
Read the entire CBSNews.com article about McCain and Obama's Tire Gauge Policy here.
Read Barack Obama's very detailed Energy Policy here.
plez sez: what do you expect from the mccain campaign?!? they ran out of fresh ideas back in 2000 when he was losing to george w. bush! imagine, losing to that loser! i guess two times is the charm, because he's gearing up for a royal ass whuppin' at the ballot box of Barack Obama.
what childish and churlish group for nincompoops sat around and thought up this tire gauge joke? they should lose their campaign credentials and get the boot! not only are they joking about a very serious matter, but they are also WAAAAAAAAY off base, because what Obama said is TRUE! real gasoline savings can be realized with some very inexpensive car maintenance... and i should know, i drive a 10-year old gas GUZZLIN' Ford SUV!
the sad part about this whole episode (once again) is that the chatter emanating from the mccain camp drowns out the sound reason and good judgement from Barack Obama. they must sit around like writers for the jay leno show waiting for a sound bite upon which to write their rye joke. instead of offering capable alternatives, the best the mccain camp can do is come up with a childish prank and misinformed attacks (buoyed by the rnc and their lapdog, rush limbaugh).
i'm still waiting to hear mccain's plan... other than waiting 5 to 10 years for the oil from off-shore drilling to make its way into the market!