Congressperson Asks Americans To Drive Slower

One of Congress' newest members sees it fitting that Americans should drive slower to save fuel - an appropriate sacrifice for a war she sees partly waged for oil. Her first bill, HR 6458, lowers speed limits to 60/65 mph (urban/rural areas).

August 21, 2008, 9:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

"Speier wasted no time announcing her presence. On her first day, April 10, the Hillsborough (CA) Democrat was booed on the House floor by Republicans who objected to her speech about the specter of a 100-year U.S. engagement in Iraq: "History will not judge us kindly if we sacrifice four generations of Americans because of the folly of one."

"If there is a political polar opposite of a Mother's Day resolution, it is trying to regulate how Americans drive. Speier has done just that with her very first bill, which would set a national speed limit of 60 mph in cities and 65 mph in rural areas.

"It's like guns - don't mess with my car, my Harley or my gun," Speier observed. "I know it's not going to make me a lot of friends, but I didn't go there for that reason."

"It might seem like an uphill climb in view of America's car culture, but Speier attacks it with relish. She notes the relatively small differences in travel times between 70 mph and 60 mph, against the potential savings of more than 2,000 lives and the reduction in this nation's carbon footprint and dependence on imported oil. Speier contends the lower speed limit (and corresponding drop in fuel consumption) would have far more near-term impact on gas prices than the other plans (offshore drilling, alternative fuel incentives) that have been kicking around in the House.

In the larger picture, Speier goes back to the subject of the speech she made on her first day in Congress: the war in Iraq, which has claimed 4,500 U.S. lives and has consumed more than $10 billion a month."

"Part of our reason for going there was oil," she said. Many Americans, she said, have not felt a direct sacrifice of the war. A reduced speed limit would be at least a small sacrifice, or, as Speier put it, "an act of patriotism."

Office of Congresswoman Speier: HR 6458: Establishing a National 60 mph Speed Limit
Oakland Tribune: 60 mph limit gaining speed
U.S. D.O.E.: Driving More Efficiently
AP: Senator asks if nation's drivers should slow down
Planetizen: Lowering The Speeding Limit To Improve Air Quality

Sunday, August 17, 2008 in The San Francisco Chronicle

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