Senate Bill Would Ban All Offshore Drilling, Raise CAFE Standard to 55 MPG

As the nation awaits news on the success of operation “Top Kill,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation that would seek a permanent halt to offshore drilling the United States—and a drastic increase in fuel efficiency standards beyond targets already set by the Obama administration in April.

Senator Sanders praised a recently announced six-month moratorium on new drilling projects, but said that it does not go far enough. “I think a moratorium is obviously a sensible idea,” Sanders told MSNBC. “I would go further—I think you need a permanent ban on the West Coast, East Coast and parts of Florida.”

Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders.

But an offshore drilling ban isn’t the only solution that the legislation aims to provide. Senator Sanders would like to see the United States go above and beyond Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards that will raise the average the average gas mileage of cars sold in the United States to 35.5 mpg by 2016. Sanders’ Clean Coasts and Efficient Cars Act of 2010 would raise fuel economy standards to 55 mpg by 2030.

The Senator says that escalating fuel standards would keep the United States on par with other leading car markets and decrease gas prices well beyond any cuts that could come from more drilling. “In Europe, for example, cars already get the equivalent of 42 mpg and by 2020 cars in Europe will be required to get at least 65 mpg,” read a press release from the Senator’s office. “The improved fuel economy would translate into a savings of $1.43 per gallon of gas. Opening all of America’s coastal waters to drilling would yield such a modest boost in petroleum supplies that the price of gas would dip by only 3-cents a gallon.”

Sanders appeared on the Ed Shultz Show on Thursday as live video of oil shooting from the damaged well streamed alongside him on the screen.

“If there is a silver lining in this terrible ecological disaster, it should be that we wake up and understand that right now we’ve got to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, away from offshore drilling and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”

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  • lost fan

    The Us is way to leanient on CAFE standards, if you drive the 2010 prius just right you would get 50-55mpg no problem and thats today! another 20 years the 2030 Prius will get 200mpg and 50miles all electric.

    If America wants to ditch the oil you need to challenge everyone to change now! not a slow baby step that will take 20 years.

    I hope the top kill doesn’t work Oil Spill could be God’s warning to Us to get off the oil

  • caffeinekid

    A self-described “democratic socialist” unicorn chaser is against off-shore drilling? Say it isn’t so!

    Why is it that people who are environmentally conscious, or happen to dig “green” technologies are equated with nutjobs like Sanders as a matter of default?

  • Charles

    I really hope “Top Kill” does work. We need a wake up call, but hoping that the gulf coast is even more damaged is beyond belief. With that said I really do not think that “lost fan” really means it.

    CAFE has not really worked that well. Other countries have raised taxes on fuel and done a much better job of limiting demand. We should do both.

    CAFE numbers do not match EPA MPG sticker numbers. 55 real MPG would be much better. From:

    “The proposed new CAFE’s numbers may appear like a difficult target to reach for the automakers, but when compared to current EPA numbers, they’re already not that far off. After crunching some numbers, we’ve estimated that it takes a 2008 combined EPA rating of only 26 mpg to achieve the proposed CAFE rating of 35 mpg. Break it out by cars and trucks, and the proposed 39 mpg CAFE rating for cars translates to only about a 29 mpg EPA rating. For trucks, the proposed 30 mpg CAFE rating equates to roughly 23 mpg on a current window sticker.”

  • usbseawolf2000

    Unadjusted CAFE number for 2010 Prius is 70 MPG.

  • wooac

    Raising CAFE standards does nothing to the millions of older cars already on the roads. Instead of a top-down solution, just constantly increase the gas tax. A formula like

    gastax = .075 * (year – 2000) in dollars

    would reduce the deficit and do more than raising the CAFE standards in some far off year like 2030.

  • lost fan

    I can’t believe i was right “top kill failed”

  • FSM_47

    Maybe Sanders could put his butt where his moronic mouth is and ride a bike between Vermont and DC. The only thing his state has is fall colors and nobody will be able to afford to go there:=)

  • JamesDavis

    This is one bill I hope all the governments vote for. Unless Americans are already dead, this man-made oil disaster should be the biggest wake-up call in Americas’ history. The government should pass a bill requiring all our auto manufacturers to immediately start building all electric cars and convert all our fossil fuel cars to electric and pass a bill where fossil fuel cars, coming off the assembly line, that have not been converted to electricity taxed to the point where no one can afford to buy them…like they are doing with the electric car now.

  • Anonymous

    it’s not that americans don’t want to vote for it, it’s just that the world is hopelessly addicted to/depended on the oil economy…

  • Rich S

    We should end all oil subsidies and apply the offset to renewables.

  • wheel balancer

    I can see the advocacy for this bill.It is because offshore oil production involves environmental risks, oil spills from oil tankers or pipelines transporting oil from the platform to onshore facilities and from leaks and accidents on the platform

  • James Hea

    Certainly the increasing of the gas tax or establishing a floor price for a barrel of oil would go a long way to encouraging alternative energy investors to commit to investing.

    The U.S. has to decide if it wants to be part of the solution or part of the problem. Without a global perspective, the U.S. will lose out to other countries who will develop alternative solutions and then sell them into the U.S. The U.S. can be a leader here. Americans are known for their creativity and ingenuity. However, the subsidization of the oil industry has allowed U.S. citizens to live in a fantasyland about the real cost of oil. With the unfortunate disaster in the Gulf, perhaps now, they’ll wake up to the real costs.

  • DutchInChicago

    I can not believe all these big oil fan boys on this bulletin board. They must be paid astroturfers.

    How can you argue with “In Europe, for example, cars already get the equivalent of 42 mpg and by 2020 cars in Europe will be required to get at least 65 mpg,” ?

  • Anonymous

    It is very easy for the US to reach the higher mpg numbers. Stop driving the stupid big and heavy cars. Small cars are the norm in Europe … You are not a better, bigger or more successfull man if you show off in a big heavy car – it also does not increase the size any body parts. There are a few people that need bigger trucks … but most won’t need them. You don’t need a V6 with 300hp to drive in the stop/go traffic to work every day. A small sized car does the trick.

  • Samie

    Despite this being the worst United States oil spill ever, I honestly think people need to ask themselves what actually will change from this?

    Rather you believe in Democrat or Republican ideologies this oil spill will do nothing to get politicians, talking points, and no questions asked followers to think about why this happened and why money will make sure it happens again. The point is that when environmental or safety risks are ignored for short-term profits, who pays for these costs when something goes wrong in this modeling? Anyone with a brain knows that BP will never pay the full costs from this spill and government will pick up the rest of the costs. The current system rewards bad behavior by reducing liability and/or not needing to fully add safety or environmental costs into products. Consumers must know there is a price to this also, cheap oil would not be so cheap but the normal political stupidity and the big bad government rhetoric would be minimized.

    Senator Bernie Sanders is trying to do something that has some rationality behind it. But despite this, his legislation will be a joke to most other Senators and think tank groups will find ways to make this political suicide if anyone votes for this and of course more money from the petroleum industry into campaigns will squash this legislation or will make sure it is pointless by severely watering it down.

    What is so special about new offshore drilling? I swear when you hear people talk, they act like it is more important than renewable energy. But domestic drilling production is somewhere between 14-19 percent, and dwindling. Most of the new drilling is only going to add 2-5 percent for 10-15 years. Why is the constant bombardment of offshore oil propaganda so important? It is not. Yet we will see the same type of accident happen again and our addiction to oil will only be fully realized when peak oil occurs. Man on the moon, building a national interstate system, Hover dam, ect… all things that had American ingenuity, vision, and political leadership but I guess those days are behind us….

  • engineer

    You treehugging pinkos need to look at the whole picture. In the worst case prediction this spill is only two thirds as big as the one in 1979. That one took 10 months to plug. It did no measurable economic harm and no permanent eco damage. More harm was done by thrill seeking news journalists blowing the story out of proportion and killing tourist trade along the coast.

    Ok, we can put a noose around our own neck and stop all drilling off shore. There are many 1000’s of wells in the Gulf that are in international waters, not controled by us, and never will be controled by us. Other conutries are delighted to see us stop drilling. Leaves more for them, and there is nothing we can do about it. Hell yea! Lets just give all that oil to our good friends in China. Might as well. We gave them our entire manufacturing capacity.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Engineer, I agree with you. I also agree that we should be looking at alternative fuel sources. However, banning all drilling and stopping all oil production has to be the dumbest idea ever. Our economy is already fragile. You stop drilling and hundreds of thousands of people will be out of a job. We have no solution to efficiently fuel cars or for that, big delivery trucks and planes. So to stop drilling would cause oil demand to rise and cause the gas price to sky rocket also causing all transportation and delivery to sky rocket, putting us in the worst depression we have ever seen.
    Baby steps are the answer. Making mandates and stepping stones to improve MPG and lessen our reliance on oil over the next 20 – 40 years is a better solution. Many oil companies are making huge strides to look for alternative fuel. Shell is devising a more economical wind energy process as well as solar power. Exxon is looking into Petro from Algae. Chevron is trying to use micro ways to burn Salt Water. These ideas would not be funded without oil companies using their own profits to push them forward.

  • Tax Payer

    How do you really think this will go?

    1. The new tax will be anticipated by the Feds and they will spend it immediately. It will then become a baseline for future budgets and no good will come of it except we will be spending too much for fuel and be locked into producing the extra revenue from now on.

    2. We will not drive much less even at $5 / gallon. Commuting distances and the sheer size of the US make ours a very different picture than in Europe.

    3. CAFE standards at 55 MPG will just be another burden on the economy unless consumers begin to demand (and buy) vehicles with higher mileage. Efficient vehicles are available today with gas prices plenty high enough to leverage a change in consumer habits and it isn’t happening. This bill reads like a giant attempt at social engineering and not as good energy policy.

    4. Stopping offshore development due to environmental risk is a red herring being thrown around by environmentalists who want to make use of a tragedy. The best reason not to drill for our last remaining reserves is because they are our last remaining reserves. It makes no sense to burn up a such a vital resource on consumer whims.

  • Samie


    Try reading other comments and argue against them before spewing silly rhetoric.

    I must have p’d’ off the “no questions asked followers” The responses after mine are made by one person??? The comments show why we are in the trouble that we are in, as a society…..

    Lets all go back to eight grade and have a logical debate. Example: Like no way I’m right and like for sure your wrong, cuz I heard it from experts on Cable TV so you got nothing to say. Critical thinking skills, I think not.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Tax Payer:

    1. Well, by that logic, let’s not collect any taxes because they gonna be spent by no good gov, Heeehaw!

    2. We won’t? Such short memory we have… remember 2006?

    3. In that case, let’s eliminate all “burden” and regulations including drilling restrictions. Ooops, we have a leak, i thought the gov was supposed to prevent this!!!

    4. red herring? Oh yea, the media made this story so fantastic, it’s really not that bad. I mean, we all some oil in our food right? Hmmm… got to love that oil taste.

  • Shines

    Sorry Mr. Engineer I think you need to look at the whole picture. Actually the worst case scenario for this spill is 40% worse than the one in 1979 – this one might not be stopped until December. That one was off the coast of Mexico and wrecked Texas beaches for 3 years. The bare sand beaches recovered (and you can say there was no permanent eco damage but we know that is not true), The wetlands, marshes and estuaries off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are way different than the sandy beaches of Texas. The point of this web site is not to criticize oil companies nor to condemn offshore drilling. The huge oil slick in the Golf is a graphic reminder of our desperate need to find alternative energy.
    As far as letting China have our oil… – our oil? BP stands for British Petroleum as if you didn’t know. They and Exxon and other oil companies are going to sell the oil wherever they can make the most profit. Doesn’t really matter which countries want the oil, the fact that many countries want the oil means the price will eventually start rising again (once the global recession ends…) So open your eyes a little wider – I’m not going to talk about the many forms of pollution caused by driving cars – hybrid, electric or otherwise…

  • Big lifted trucks

    The globe is already facing the oil crisis and something bad like this happens, the worst impact of this oil spill is on environment and the animal kingdom directly, but if this was not to happen again the impact would have been on environment, as the Oil would be processed and used in for cars and buses and huge machineries which will eventually hit the Co2 level go high and cause a impact on climate change………
    big lifted trucks