To Address Demand for Oil, We Must Focus on Transportation

4592120939_8898c25834.jpgThe consequences of our transportation policy. (Photo: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via Flickr)

Editor’s
note: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) sent us this commentary on the
the BP oil spill, climate change and the need for transportation reform.

Last
week, President Obama delivered his first speech from the Oval Office
on the single greatest challenge our nation faces: how we supply and
consume energy.

The searing images we’re seeing from the
Gulf Coast — of the families who lost loved ones, of people out of
work and of oil-coated birds and dolphins — are daily reminders of
what’s at stake when we drill, baby, drill.

The truth is that
we are drilling 150 miles offshore and one mile below the earth’s
surface because we have run out of accessible oil. Most shocking is how
small a difference this oil makes to our energy needs. The 35-60,000
barrels spewing daily from the Gulf floor would be enough to power our
nation’s cars for just four minutes.

Whether from the Gulf of
Mexico or Persian Gulf, we cannot meet our nation’s energy needs by
drilling. We are at a precipice, and I stand firmly with President
Obama when it comes to Congress passing legislation that arms the
nation with clean energy.

But frankly, we need to do more on these issues, especially by addressing transportation and how we build in our communities.

The
transportation sector accounts for almost three-quarters of U.S. oil
consumption and one-third of our carbon emissions. If we really want to
break our dependence on oil and improve our global competitiveness, we
must focus on the way people commute and move goods.

Being
truly aggressive about where and how we build can save even more money
and energy — with the potential to cut carbon pollution 12-16 percent
by 2030 and save more than a million barrels of oil a day.

This
is not the first thing that comes to mind for most people, but to
ensure our energy security, we need a comprehensive approach. I hope
this becomes part of the future message and, more importantly, a key
focus of Congressional action.

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