A Congressional Candidate Picks Up His New Volt-- Guest Post By Dr. Lee Rogers (D-CA)
Blue America endorsed California surgeon Lee Rogers for many reasons, including his support for single-payer health care, his insistence on ending the occupation in Afghanistan, his support for economic and social justice and because of the startling contrast in character and leadership abilities between himself and the scandal plagued ten-term incumbent, corrupt Republican corporate shill, Buck McKeon. We didn't know when we endorsed him last year that he was in the process of buying a Volt-- nor did we understand why that's even important. He just picked it up last week and we asked him to write a guest post explaining why it's something voters should be thinking about.
Breaking My Addiction To Oil And Helping The U.S. Economy While Doing It
-by Dr. Lee Rogers (D-CA)
One week ago I purchased my new Chevy Volt. I traded in a BMW getting 20 MPG for one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market, which happens to be the technologically-advanced, American-made Volt. I have to say, a week into my purchase, I’m extremely satisfied on multiple fronts.
First, incentives make the Volt cost effective for the average buyer. Basic models start at $39,000. There is a federal tax credit of $7500 and in California, a state rebate of $1500. But the true savings come from the reduced fuel cost. My personal example is impressive. I charged the car every night and also at work. I ran on gas a few times when I extended past the 44 miles per charge I was averaging. I drove an average week with 367 miles and used only 1.1 gallons of gas, giving me an effective efficiency of 334 mpg. At $4.49 per gallon for premium, I would have used 18.35 gallon of gas in my BMW at a cost of $82.39. Instead, it cost me just $4.93 in the Volt. My yearly fuel cost estimates were about $4300 and now it would be just $250. Certainly there are electric costs associated with the car. Depending on the time of charge, home charging costs $0.68 – $1.41. It doesn’t eliminate the carbon footprint of driving, since electricity is generated with some fossil fuels, but it greatly reduces it.
I’m also pleased I contributed to the rebound of American automobile sales. CNN Money reported that March sales of fuel-efficient cars drove sales. A record 100,000 cars were sold with 30+ MPG, partially due to the climbing gas prices. GM said that demand rose for it’s most fuel-efficient vehicles, now making up 45% of the company’s US sales, up from 16% four years ago. Clean car manufacturers have already created more than 150,000 jobs in America. These are new jobs which didn’t exist 10 years ago, like manufacturers and suppliers of advanced gasoline and diesel parts, hybrid or electric parts, and infrastructure jobs for alternative energy vehicles.
In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule requiring automakers to increase the average fuel economy to 35.5 mpg by 2016. A new proposed rule would require the average fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Critics have said this may cost $157 billion adding up to $2,000 to the price of each new passenger vehicle. Fuel savings of $419 billion to $515 billion would offset the cost. These new efficiency standards will create more jobs and spark an innovation race in which U.S. manufacturers can excel.
The US imports about half of the oil we use. Republicans are quick to point out our reliance on foreign oil makes the world unsafe by putting more money in the hands of OPEC countries who are enemies of the United States. Their solution is to “drill, drill, drill” domestically and increase production to make up for the oil we need. This rewards their wealthy campaign contributors. Since 1990, 75% of big oil’s lobbying cash has gone to Republicans. My opponent, Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon, counts among his campaign contributors ARCO, Conoco Phillips, Exxon-Mobil, and Occidental Petroleum. In turn, McKeon has long been a supporter of tax breaks and government subsidies for big oil companies. In 2011, he voted to protect tax breaks for big oil companies and in 2007 he opposed a plan to repeal their tax breaks. In 2007, he opposed a tax on oil companies to fund conservation efforts by state and local governments. In 2001, he opposed requiring drilling applicants to submit an “oil spill cleanup plan”, yet he voted “yes” on opening the Outer Continental Shelf to more oil drilling. In 2007, he voted “no” on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC, who collude to keep our oil prices high.
I think the way forward is to increase fuel production at home while respecting the environment, but at the same time reduce oil consumption all together by improving fuel efficiency and investing in clean technology. I’m doing my part by purchasing a vehicle to reduce my addiction of oil by as much as 90%. I see it as my duty as an American to help make this country a safer, cleaner place and I am proud to boost our economy in the meanwhile. Only my economic boost didn’t go to the CEOs or the shareholder of the oil company, it went to the UAW employee at GM in Detroit, the technicians creating the networks for these cars to exist, and the scientists who are developing tomorrow’s clean technology.