Following news that the EPA dropped plans to keep boosting fuel-economy standards, it quietly dropped another bombshell: It's now fine to guzzle gas. Burn as much as you want.
According to an AP report carried by the Detroit News, the Energy Department quietly released the news online in a memo in July in support of freezing fuel economy standards.
Growth in domestic supplies of natural gas, fracking, and horizontal drilling have reduced the need to import oil, which "affects the need of the nation to conserve energy," the Energy Department memo says. This gives "the United States more flexibility than in the past to use our oil resources with less concern."
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The memo challenges energy-conservation policies in place in the U.S. since the oil crises of the 1970s aimed at improving energy efficiency across the economy. Several of these policies were enacted by Congress, including the requirement to raise fuel-economy standards to the "highest feasible level."
President Donald Trump campaigned on a policy of "energy dominance," replacing energy efficiency, and the new memo seems to support that position.
The Energy Department also noted that the administration recognizes the need to "use energy wisely."
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On Tuesday, the EPA rolled out plans to replace President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, aimed at cleaning up emissions from power plants, with the "Affordable Clean Energy" rule, which observers expect to extend the lives of some coal plants.
A recent report in DeSmog Blog notes that fracking returns have recently been diminishing because so-called "child wells" have depleted the yields from their larger parent wells.
Even long-time spokesmen for the oil industry were quick to criticize the memo. Longtime Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza told the AP, "It's like saying, I'm a big, old fat guy, and food prices have dropped—its time to start eating again."