New Analysis: U.S. Senate Proposal Would Increase California’s Oil Dependence by 62 Million Gallons, Cost Consumers $187 Million

U.S. Senate to Vote Tomorrow on Murkowski Resolution as Gulf Oil Disaster Continues

Environment California

California—As oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico and just days before a major U.S. Senate vote on legislation that would block new rules requiring cars and light trucks to use less oil, a new analysis finds that the Senate measure would increase California’s dependence on oil by more than 62 million gallons in 2016.  The binding resolution, introduced by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, also would cost Californians $187 million at the gas pump in 2016.  The impacts would be even greater over time.
Nationally, if the resolution were to pass, EPA estimates that America would use at least 455 million more barrels of oil – the amount of oil equivalent to letting the BP spill continue at the same rate for 65 years – as a result of blocking EPA’s Model Year 2012-2016 clean cars standards.  
“This bill is yet another Washington bailout, but this time for Big Oil and other polluters.  With the oil disaster in the Gulf wreaking havoc on people’s livelihoods and the environment, we need to end America’s dependence on oil, not make the problem worse,” said Environment California’s clean energy advocate, Bernadette Del Chiaro.
The Senate will vote Thursday, June 10, on Senator Murkowski’s Congressional Review Act resolution (S.J.R. 26), which would block key policies to reduce America’s dependence on oil and other fossil fuels, including the historic clean cars standards finalized earlier this year.
On April 1, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation finalized a joint rule to decrease the oil consumption of Model Year 2012-2016 cars and light trucks sold in the United States.  But, if Senator Murkowski’s resolution were enacted, EPA would have to rescind its standard, forfeiting one-quarter of the joint rule’s oil savings – 455 billion barrels of oil nationally over the lifetimes of those vehicles – according to the EPA. 
Moreover, the resolution would prohibit the EPA from setting similar standards for big trucks and buses and post-2016 passenger vehicles – actions President Obama announced on May 21 in the Rose Garden and which could cut America’s oil use by billions of additional barrels.
Environment California’s analysis examines the state-by-state impacts of blocking EPA’s Model Year 2012-2016 clean cars standard.  Since the analysis is limited to the impacts of blocking this one standard, the results underestimate the effect of the resolution on oil use and consumer costs.  In California, the resolution would:

  • Increase California’s dependence on oil by more than 62 million gallons in 2016. 
  • Cost Californians $187 million at the gas pump in 2016, assuming gas costs the same as it does today.

“This bailout would increase California’s oil dependence and give Big Oil millions that belong in Californians pocketbooks,” said Del Chiaro.
Senator Murkowski is the # 3 recipient in Congress of money from Big Oil and the #2 recipient of money from electric utilities so far this election cycle.  Her resolution is backed by Big Oil and other polluters and opposed by national security organizations and veterans, the UAW, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, former Republican EPA Administrator Russell Train, American Academy of Pediatrics, thousands of scientists, environmental organizations, and governors, attorneys general, and top environmental officials of numerous states, including Governor Schwarzenegger.
EPA would have to rescind its clean cars standards because the Murkowski resolution would veto EPA’s scientific finding that global warming pollutants endanger human health and the environment – a prerequisite for any and all Clean Air Act rules to reduce the pollution from cars and other sources. 
“This bill is an unprecedented attack on the Clean Air Act protections that have cost-effectively cut dangerous pollution to safeguard our health and environment for 40 years, while also driving technological innovation,” said Del Chiaro
The Congressional Review Act is a rarely used law that provides Congress expedited procedures to void agency rules.  Senator Murkowski needs just a majority vote to pass her resolution. 
 “The Senate should defeat it and act swiftly to lessen the extensive damage caused in the Gulf, cut our oil dependence, and move to a clean energy economy that caps carbon pollution and finally prioritizes energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy,” concluded Del Chiaro.