On page 10A of the March 16 CDT, there was an Associated Press article describing President Donald Trump’s plans to weaken current fuel efficiency rules.
Toward the end of the article, Trump suggests that this will only be “a very small thing,” equivalent to “an extra thimble full of fuel.” While a “thimble full of fuel” may sound like a small, insignificant amount, it is also a deceptive description at best.
Let’s play this out by reviewing the factual numbers.
There are approximately 260 million cars (including small trucks) currently on America’s roads. A typical car travels roughly 12,000 miles per year. At an average of 25 mpg, a car uses 480 gallons of gasoline per year. Given 260 million cars, that is nearly 125 billion gallons of gasoline used nationwide per year. When burned, a gallon of gasoline releases about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. That means as a country of drivers, we already release 2.5 trillion tons of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere.
Let’s say Trump proposes only a 1 mpg drop in efficiency standards. Going from 25 to 24 mpg entails a 4 percent change. A resulting 4 percent increase in the amount of carbon dioxide released means we would be adding nearly 50 million more tons of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere each year. All those extra little thimble fulls do add up, and it’s not insignificant.
Is such a trade-off worth it?
Robert T. Smith, Bellefonte