WASHINGTON—The ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has made people around the world frighteningly aware of the dangers of offshore drilling. In the wake of the disaster environmental organizations have been hard at work championing clean energy solutions and asking for congressional action in the form of clean energy policy.
The Sierra Club recently launched its Moving Beyond Oil Campaign, and on June 30 in Washington, D.C., 10,000 American flags were planted in the ground near the base of the Washington Monument spelling out the words “Freedom From Oil.” According to the Moving Beyond Oil Campaign website, the flags were planted to bring to the attention of the president and Congress the public’s desire to move America beyond oil to a clean energy future in the next 20 years.
“We know the oil industry pollutes our coastlines, we know that big oil pollutes our air and our water, and we know that big oil pollutes our politics. … We also know that when Americans work together, unite around a common purpose we can achieve anything, and there is no better time than right now to unite around the purpose of getting America off oil," said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director at the event. His remarks were broadcast online.
The Moving Beyond Oil Campaign offers specific recommendations including, setting an enforceable national goal for reducing oil consumption, moving to advanced technology vehicles with higher vehicle efficiency standards, investing in cleaner alternative biofuels, investing in transportation choices such as transit, biking, and walking, developing a freight system that shifts more goods to rail and ship, and creating energy efficient homes that utilize alternative fuels for heating.
“I think [clean energy] is the wave of the future and the salvation of our economy,” said Mary Feeheery, a Washington, D.C., metro resident. She has been a Sierra Club volunteer and member for 20 years.
According to the U.S. Energy Information System, 2008 Annual Energy Review, 95 percent of U.S. petroleum consumption is a function of the transportation sector. Cars and light trucks account for 60 percent of energy use in the sector, while more efficient trains and buses account for 3 percent.
Light duty vehicles account for 8.57 million barrels of the 19.42 million barrels of oil consumed in the United States per day. The Sierra Club recommends the deployment of electric vehicles, and the creation of a program to expand electric vehicle manufacturing, and offering incentives for consumers to buy more efficient vehicles.
Ending U.S. reliance on oil works in part with the Sierra Club’s Green Transportation plan to reduce transportation greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and curb global warming. The campaign aims to reduce U.S. transportation CO2e emissions 35 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The percent reductions are from 2005 levels. The plan calls for setting aggressive national GHG emissions standards and increasing fuel economy for vehicles, creating a different land use policy, and supporting compact communities that require people to drive fewer miles.