In a new White House policy declaration, the Trump administration has said that increasingly ample oil supplies mean it is no longer necessary to conserve oil use as past administrations have recommended, according to The Guardian. In a memo last month, the energy department said that a number of factors, including the expansion of petroleum alternatives like natural gas, have reduced dependence on foreign oil. Furthermore, fracking has unlocked shale oil reserves, offering “more flexibility than in the past to use our oil resources with less concern.”
The memo did not discuss climate change at all, and was released in support of a White House push to roll back fuel mileage standards. This effort will run counter to conservation efforts by past administrations, including mileage standards endorsed by congress.
One White House initiative would freeze mileage standards, that are now set to rise, for cars and light trucks after 2020. According to the administration’s own estimates, this move would raise US oil consumption by 500,000 barrels each day. They claim the move would boost highway safety my making new cars, with up to date safety features, more affordable.
According to Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza:
“It’s like saying, ‘I’m a big old fat guy, and food prices have dropped – it’s time to start eating again.’ If you look at it from the other end, if you do believe that fossil fuels do some sort of damage to the atmosphere…you come up with a different viewpoint. There’s a downside to living large.”
Oil prices have fallen to $65 a barrel after peaking at $147 a decade ago. US oil production reached an all-time high this summer.
According to John Graham, a former George W. Bush administration official and current dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University:
“Our ability to play that role as a leader in the world is stronger when we are the strongest producer of oil and gas. But there are still reasons to want to reduce the amount we consume.”
Tom Carper, Democratic senator from Delaware, took issue with these measures:
“American businesses, consumers and our environment are all the losers under his plan. The only clear winner is the oil industry. It’s not hard to see whose side President Trump is on.”
In June, a letter from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and other industry advocates, called on eight governors to promote the internal combustion engine itself, in the face of various state measures to incentivize electric cars.