As it stands right now, I believe that there are five things that can be implemented by 2010 that will significantly impact the nation’s dependence on oil (and not just foreign oil). None of these are easy by any means. I do not claim that these will make us oil independent or that they are, by themselves, enough. They merely start us down a long path.
- Reestablish a national speed limit. In 1973, the National Maximum Speed Limit (public law 93-239) briefly penalized states that refused to set their maximum speed limits to 55mph (88 km/h) by withholding funds for transportation projects. The law was fully repealed in 1995, allowing states to set their own speed limits. Something like the National Maximum Speed Limit must be reestablished, either at 55mph (88km/h) or 60mph (96km/h).
- Prohibit the sale of noncommercial vehicles that attain less than 30 miles/gallon in the city. This is a radical step and would immediately eliminate the sale of certain vehicles (such as the Hummer) that do far more harm than good to our environment. It would force innovation in the automotive market. Savings in the oil supply and the pocketbook of many American households would be seen within a year. Vehicles used for commercial purposes would be exempt, with some form of documentation required for commercial use.
- Require cities to increase residential and commercial population density. By creating more walkable neighborhoods and locating homes near businesses and jobs, the need for any sort of local transportation can virtually disappear.
- Require federal and municipal building construction nationwide to meet LEED Silver standards or better. The U.S. Green Building Council established the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system for buildings that wish to be certified as energy efficient or using sustainable resources. Washington State has taken a step in this direction with Executive Order 04-06. This would include both new construction and remodels.
- Significantly advance funding for the implementation of alternative energy projects. Research is not enough. We know that some of these sources of energy are not only viable but sustainable over the long term. We must implement methods of utilizing these alternative energy resources on a local and regional scale.
There are a number of other things that could very easily be done, and a number of other paths that could be followed. These represent the ideas that I find most imperative for the survival of our current culture and way of life. I intend to expand on a couple of these items in later posts, so stay tuned.