Those who don’t know their (energy policy) history are destined to repeat it

As we enter a period of decreasing gasoline prices and economic difficulties, it is important that we are not lulled into another sense of complacency about our energy policy.  As this graph from the Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency so vividly illustrates, America has a tendency to react decisively and effectively in times of crisis, only to quickly fall back into old patterns, once the immediate danger has subsided.

In the 1970’s the danger came from OPEC restricting our oil supply, thereby creating gasoline shortages and a major price spike.  Today, the danger again comes from geopolitical threats and increased gasoline prices, but is also joined with the imminent threat of climate change. 

An understanding of America’s reaction, and subsequent inaction, to the 1970’s crisis mandates that we do not fall into the same trap again.  Between 1975 and 1985, passenger vehicle mileage doubled, but by the year 2000, with gas prices much lower than the peaks seen in the early 1970’s, the average car and truck sold actually went one mile less on each gallon of gas than it did 10 years earlier.

With prices at the pump falling again, we must make sure to continue the efforts to decrease our over consumption of oil and not fall into the same sense of complacency and distraction that occurred last time this happened.

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