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Americans' Continued Purchases of SUVs Really Is a Problem by Mark Harrison

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Oil purchases are essentially the only form of financial support the simplistic economies of the despotic Middle Eastern countries have. It's not like the Saudis and Saddam are making a killing off of their fashion industries and brilliant management consulting firms. SUV's and light trucks are all so fuel inefficient that their mere existance on our roads guarantees our continued dependence on Arab Oil.

25% of imported oil (2.8 MM barrel/day or 19% of all oil used in US) comes from the Persian Gulf - the place that is causing us problems like 9/11 and making us send our relatives and friends off to die in gas attacks in the desert.

To eliminate our need for those 2.8MM daily barrels of Persian Gulf oil via automobile efficiency only, without changing any other lifestyle habits, we would have to increase fuel efficiency (CAFE standards) by about 36% - to 37.4 MPG for cars, and 29 mph for SUV's/light trucks.

At present, there are are fourteen cars on the market* that arrive at that goal.

There is not one SUV or light truck on the market that hits the mark. - Well, perhaps one that maybe squeeks in - the spunky Toyota RAV4 (such a big favorite among the SUV drivers) with city/hwy mpg of 25/31.

So the existance of SUV's and light trucks on the market is undeniably a problem, despite any slippery, apologist PR-man arguements to the contrary. If they are on the market, we are buying Persian Gulf oil. We are buying oil from the counties whose people brought us 9/11, and we are keeping the oil economy alive and flowing in Saddam's neighborhood 

Q. Why is Sao Tome and Principe one of the poorest countries in the world when it is sitting on 4 billion barrel of high-quality oil? 
A. Because no one buys oil from them.

If Americans drove vehicles from this list of fourteen presently available cars (only two of them hybrids), we would eliminate the need to buy any oil from the Middle East. The the free flow of money for radical Islam and for dangerous governments like Saddam Hussein's would be choked to a trickle. We wouldn't have to spend $200 billion and untold lives toppling evil oil-fed despots, they would wither and fall as we stopped feeding them.

Yes, our friends the Saudis and the Kuwaitis would have to build real economies, and maybe even introduce democracy. And the oil companies would recognize reduced profits as world oil prices slipped. I'm sure most Americans will weep less for such triad's fates than for those of our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers who are off to die in the Iraqi desert. 

Only with the most desperate excertion of logical contortionism can you begin to deny it - the ownership of an SUV puts you in a club that actively guarantees continued US imports of Persian Gulf oil, and makes you an active financial supporter of the undemocratic, brutal, and dangerous regimes of the Middle East - and the terrorism and war they bring us.

*Top fuel economy among 2003 model cars, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Mileage is city, then highway, then combined:
1. Honda Insight (electric-gas hybrid, manual) 61/68/64 
2. Honda Insight (automatic) 57/56/56 
3. Toyota Prius (electric-gas hybrid, automatic) 52/45/48 
4. Honda Civic (electric-gas hybrid, manual) 48/47/48 
5. Honda Civic (automatic) 46/51/48 
6. Volkswagen Jetta Wagon (diesel, manual) 42/50/45 
7. (Three-way tie) Volkswagen New Beetle, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Jetta (all diesel with manual transmissions) 42/49/45 
8. Toyota Echo (manual) 35/43/38 
9. (Three-way tie) Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Jetta Wagon (all diesel with automatic transmissions) 34/45/38 
10. Volkswagen New Beetle (diesel, automatic) 34/44/38

Feb 19, 2003 12:00 AM