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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Make new cars, not wars

Given the political instability of the Middle East, it is becoming increasingly dangerous to be dependent on oil from this region. The current solution emerging from the Republican Party will open 2,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for exploration and drilling. If we really do not want to rely on the Middle East for oil, we need to become less dependent on fossil fuel. 




In truth, our government has not been ignoring this issue. However, there is no noticeable progress in the American automotive industry that even hints of the possibility of mass-produced cars requiring little or no fossil fuel. 




When President Bill Clinton held office in 1993, the government distributed $1.5 billion in federal funding to American auto manufacturers to encourage the designing of gasoline-electric hybrid cars. This was a good idea in principle, but the goal was to have a mid-size car capable of getting 80 miles per gallon readily available by 2004, which was way too ambitious. Consequentially, the plan was pretty much a failure. 




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Earlier this year, President Bush scrapped Clinton's program and initiated a new plan focusing on developing hydrogen fuel-cell cars. While Bush should be applauded for making an attempt to be environmentally friendly, his $1.2 billion plan is destined for the same type of failure.  




With money being thrown at Ford, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler, it would be logical to expect them to have something to show for it, but they do not. At the very least, there should be some accountability on the part of the three main American auto manufacturers. They each get millions of dollars in government money with almost no strings attached. Yet when they failed to develop a commercially viable design, our government did not just overlook it, it gave them more money. 




In order to truly appreciate how slowly the American auto manufacturers are moving in developing readily available fuel efficient cars, take a quick look at Honda and Toyota. Honda has two hybrid vehicles currently on the market, including a version of their Civic sedan. Honda also produced a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and is leasing five of these cars to the city of Los Angeles. Toyota has a hybrid car on the market, and has continually been at the forefront of fuel-efficient vehicle production. Maybe we are funding the wrong auto manufacturers. 




While it is nice our government is being somewhat proactive in developing environmental solutions, perhaps they need to be stricter in providing money to auto manufacturers.  




Drilling for oil in the Arctic and fighting wars in the Middle East to protect our interest in their oil is not going to solve our problems in the long run, and is the wrong way to find a solution. We need to start taking steps now to become less dependent on fossil fuel, not just for the good of our environment, but for the good of our country. 




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