Adam Werbach
Adam Werbach is the former President of the Sierra Club and currently serves as the Chief Sustainability Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi.

REASON 04: Obama is the first President in a generation to make a car go farther on a gallon of gas.

When the Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1908 it could go 25 miles on a single gallon of gas. When President Obama took office in 2008, the average fuel efficiency of an American car was 21 miles per gallon. In 100 years, America fought two world wars, launched a Mars Rover and invented Jiffy Pop, but couldn’t make a more efficient car.

I’m voting for President Obama because he’s the first president in a generation to make a car go farther on a gallon of gas.

It’s not like people aren’t aware that this is important. For decades environmentalists and consumer advocates have called upon the Detroit automakers to build more efficient cars that Americans want to drive. But those calls fell on deaf ears, as an unholy alliance between automakers and oil companies made it virtually impossible to build a legislative majority in the Senate to pass fuel economy legislation. President Obama broke the logjam.

Here’s how it happened. On the heels of the auto industry request for an $82.6 billion bailout in the fall of 2008, the Obama administration used its enhanced leverage to come to a voluntary agreement with automakers to increase auto efficiency to 35.5 miles per gallon by the year 2016. Obama then followed it up with another voluntary agreement with automakers to bring efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. These commitments were made collaboratively with the auto industry, not by heavy-handed government agents in black leather knee-high boots.

For his part, Governor Romney opposed the bailout of the auto industry along with the fuel efficiency standards. Governor Romney thinks the government should get out of the auto industry. We’ll see how Michigan and Ohio feel about that when it comes time for voting.

From a consumer standpoint, fuel efficiency makes good sense. When the full standards come into effect, the average American will save $8,000/year based on today’s gas prices.

Making a car go further on a gallon of gas is also the single simplest step we can take toward curbing our greenhouse gas addiction. According to the department of Energy, U.S. vehicles release 1.7 gigatons (billion tons) of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year. Scientists now estimate that we have a total “carbon budget” of 565 gigatons of capacity left in the atmosphere over the next forty years if we have any chance to maintain life as we know it. This means that U.S. cars alone could represent an eye-popping 15% of the remaining space for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between now and mid-century. So it’s not surprising that making cars more efficient in the U.S. is a priority.

If President Obama loses the election, the man who will dismantle these agreements at the behest of Governor Romney will be Congressman Darrell Issa, a shifty car alarm magnate from Southern California who has made it his mission to roll back Obama’s efficiency standards. Congressman Issa is the type of zealot who releases reports from his perch on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with lots of bold type and spurious charges. His most recent report, “RADICAL OBAMA ADMIN[ISTRATION] IDEOLOGY MAKING YOUR CARS & YOUR TRAVEL MORE EXPENSIVE,” is typical.

Governor Romney and Congressman Issa have made their intentions to halt the progress toward more efficient cars crystal clear. That’s just one more reason to vote for President Obama.

Adam Werbach
 San Francisco, California

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Daniels-MBP:~ danielgumbiner$