A Growing Urgency for Basic Fuel Choices

In the name of national security and a healthier environment, policymakers are contemplating nothing less than the reinvention of the energy industry.

Published: 10-Oct-2004

The typical car on American roads these days is on steroids - far heavier and faster than its counterpart from two decades ago, due to the rise of SUVs and to peppier engines in models of all sizes.

If today's U.S. drivers were instead satisfied with the lighter, less muscular cars of 1981, gas mileage would improve by one-third, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The difference is more than 2.2 million barrels of gasoline a day - roughly equivalent to twice the prewar oil output of Iraq.

It is the one constant in the energy debate, whether with gasoline or electricity: Americans' appetite keeps getting bigger.

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