Celebrate freedom from oil

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2011-07-04T00:00:00Z 2011-07-05T09:46:51Z Celebrate freedom from oilBy ERIK PETTERSEN | Whitehall, Wis. Winona Daily News
July 04, 2011 12:00 am  • 

 Independence Day is a holiday for celebrating our nation’s freedom, but with today’s gas prices, it is hard to feel free while filling up at the gas pump.

I am 39-years-old and I’ve only ever owned one car, a 1986 Honda Civic hatchback, that got 35 miles per gallon at a time when most cars were only getting about 25 MPG.

Ever since I retired my Honda in 2003, I have felt fortunate to live car free. Yet today, with skyrocketing gas prices and turmoil in several oil producing countries, I can’t help but wonder why standards have barely improved since my old car was built 25 years ago. If my 1986 Civic could go 35 miles on a gallon of gas, today’s new cars should be doing far better.

If I ever do own another car, I want it be a hybrid, if not completely electric. Electric motors can be more than three times as efficient as internal combustion engines. And if given the choice between buying a hybrid or electric car and one of today’s “average cars” that would force me to spend more money on gas than my old Civic did, I would choose the former every time. Electric cars make sense for our society today and will help more Americans declare freedom from oil and cut our reliance on foreign countries.

In addition to making cars that use less gas, we ought to look at other transportation options. More bike-friendly streets and paths will drastically reduce the carbon footprint of each individual commuting to work. It is necessary to provide bike-friendly alternatives to driving gas-guzzlers, in addition to ride-share and car-pool programs, in order to cut down on the pollution we emit and money we waste getting from point A to point B.

We need a 21st century transportation system that gets us off oil, because our oil addiction costs us billions of dollars each year, dumps pollution into our air and prevents us from achieving energy independence. And while I am relieved to be free from filling up at the gas pump, there are many people here in Wisconsin who don’t have access to public transit options and need a car to get around.

Fortunately, President Barack Obama has the opportunity to help reduce oil consumption and save families money on gas by setting strong new fuel efficiency standards. In September, he is proposing these new standards and is considering making them as high as 62 MPG by 2025. That would cut today’s gas bills in half, which means more savings and more energy independence.

In order to progress as a society, we need safe, clean and sustainable transportation options that help free us from our oil addiction. We cannot continue to rely on a fuel source that pollutes our environment and puts our wallets at the mercy of oil companies and foreign nations.

Mr. President, in the spirit of the Fourth of July, I urge you to help drive us toward energy independence, cut carbon pollution and save Americans money at the gas pump by getting us at least to 60 MPG by 2025. Maybe then, I’ll consider buying another car.

Pettersen lives in Whitehall, Wis.

Copyright 2015 Winona Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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