Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rock doc: Getting more out of each gallon of gasoline

From page A6 | October 12, 2012 |

It’s commonplace to observe that we live in very partisan times. Red versus blue factions dominate our public discussions, and there often seems very little room made for agreement in the middle.

It’s surely not easy to get environmental groups to agree on a policy that industry endorses. And if you add organized labor, consumer groups and the state of California to the mix, you might think agreement on one particular course of action would be impossible.

But the impossible has now happened. All the groups just mentioned have endorsed a new plan to make our vehicles significantly more fuel-efficient over time. The Obama administration recently announced that by model year 2025 cars and light-duty trucks should get the equivalent of 54.5 mpg. That’s a goal further down the road than what we already had, which was getting the fleet of new cars to 34.5 mpg by 2016.

The overall efficiency of the American car fleet in recent years has been rising. That’s true in part because “regular” cars are getting more efficient, and because hybrid and electric vehicles help raise the miles per gallon figures for the fleet.

There definitely are costs associated with the new standard. Auto dealers warned that making the changes required to achieve the new fuel efficiency goals will cost about $3,000 per vehicle. That figure, of course, could mean some families can’t afford a new car.

But at the same time, some of the economics of the new standards are positive for consumers. Cars and light trucks that are more miserly with gasoline, requiring less money to run each week. Estimates are that American consumers as a group will spend $1.7 trillion less at the gas pump because of efficiency changes to the fleet.

As a geologist, the thing that most impresses me when discussions of fuel comes up is where we get the petroleum from which we make gasoline and diesel. No matter how you slice it, if we can use less petroleum our dependence on foreign oil could decline. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, a decreasing dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world is a good thing.

While it’s impressive that an agreement relating to many different groups has been successfully forged, not everyone is pleased by what’s been accomplished. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposes the new standards. According to the Washington Post, he has pledged to overturn them if elected.

In a speech last February, Romney again stated his opposition to increasingly stringent regulations. Among other points, he said such rules “hurt domestic automakers and provided a benefit to some of the foreign automakers.”

Beyond that, there’s a deeper philosophical divide between Romney and some others in the public square. The Republican presidential candidate doesn’t want the EPA involved in efforts “to manage carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles and trucks.” That issue relates to climate change and carbon policies, a very big sticky wicket.

Stay tuned.

Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. Questions for future Rock Docs can be sent to This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.



E. Kirsten Peters



District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 3 Comments



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17