Senate Democrats

The Oil Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emission Metrics of the Joint EPA/NHTSA Fuel Economy Standards

The Senate will soon consider S.J.Res.26, a joint resolution offered by Senator Murkowski that would disapprove of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) endangerment and cause or contribute findings.  These findings obligated the EPA, under the Clean Air Act, to issue greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles.  The EPA subsequently partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop a joint federal greenhouse gas and fuel economy program (National Program) that increases the nation’s average vehicle fuel economy standards to as much as 35.5 miles-per-gallon (250 grams of CO2 per mile) by 2016.  

Among many benefits, the National Program would reduce the nation’s consumption of oil and greenhouse gas emissions.  Over the lifetime of the regulated vehicles, it is estimated to reduce oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels and greenhouse gas emissions by 960 million metric tons of total carbon dioxide equivalent.  For reference, in 2008, the nation’s transportation sector consumed approximately 5 billion barrels of oil (70 percent of total U.S. oil consumption) and emitted 1,886 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (27 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions). 

However, EPA’s endangerment and cause or contribute findings is necessary in order for the EPA to implement its portion of the National Program.  Approval of the Murkowski resolution would deny the EPA that ability.  The proponents of the Murkowski resolution argue that denying the EPA from implementing its portion of the National Program is an acceptable consequence because the statutory authority given to NHTSA to raise Corporate Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) enacted by theEnergy Independence and Security Act (EISA) provides ample reductions in oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

NHTSA has stated though that the approval of the Murkowski resolution would cause the scheduled reductions in oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to “substantially erode.”  With that in mind, the following Fact Sheet helps to put the National Program’s oil reduction and greenhouse emission reduction numbers in context by comparing and contrasting them against other oil and greenhouse gas emission figures.

Oil Statistics

Over the lifetime of the regulated vehicles, the National Program would reduce oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels.  The following oil statistics help to put the National Programs reductions in context by comparing them against other oil figures.

1.      The total amount of oil consumed by the United States’ transportation sector in 2008 [EIA; Last Accessed 4.28.10]:

4.98 Billion Barrels

2.     The percentage increase in the amount of oil consumed by the United States’ transportation sector between 1990 and 2008 [EIA; Last Accessed 4.28.10]:

25 Percent

3.     The total amount of oil produced in the United States in 2008 [EIA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

1.81 Billion Barrels

4.     The estimated total amount of oil produced in the United States in 2009 [Minerals Management Service; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

1.26 Billion Barrels

5.     The total amount of oil imported into the United States from OPEC countries in 2009 [Foreign Trade Statistics; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

1.65 Billion Barrels

6.     The total amount of oil imported from Saudi Arabia into the United States in 2009 [Foreign Trade Statistics; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

373 Million Barrels

7.     The total amount of oil held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at the end of 2008 [EIA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

701 Million Barrels

8.    The estimated amount of undiscovered, economically recoverable oil located in the offshore Mid-Atlantic region [Minerals Management Service; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

1 Billion Barrels

9.     The total amount of oil produced from offshore drilling in 2008 [Minerals Management Service; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

450 Million Barrels

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emission Statistics

Over the lifetime of the regulated vehicles, the National Program would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 960 million metric tons.  The following greenhouse gas emission statistics help to put the National Programs reductions in context by comparing them against other greenhouse gas emission figures.

1.       The total amount of greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 [EPA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

6,956 Million Metric Tons

2.      The percentage increase of greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2008 [EPA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

14 Percent

3.      The  total amount of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources in 2008 [EPA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

1,886 Million Metric Tons

4.     The percentage increase of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources between 1990 and 2008 [EPA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

22 Percent

5.      The amount of carbon dioxide emissions contained in one gallon of gasoline [EPA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

19.4 Pounds

6.     The total amount of carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of petroleum in 2008 [EIA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

2,436 Million Metric Tons

7.     The percentage increase of carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of petroleum between 1990 and 2008 EIA; Last Accessed 4.27.10]:

11 Percent

Bookmark and Share