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55 MPH Returning\?

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55 MPH Returning? 

US Senator Richard Warner has requested that the Dept of Energy and the GAO study the imposition of the 55 mph speed limit in the U.S. in 1974 to determine if Congress should take similar action now.

In January 1974 Congress passed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act forcing states to impose a 55 mph speed limit or face the withdrawal of their Federal funding. Because of the fuel savings and the resulting decrease in fatalities attributable to the lower speed limit Congress made the nation speed limit permanent in Dec 1974. The law was repealed in 1995. Consumers hated the 55 mph limit and lawmakers were under serious pressure to repeal it or be voted out of office.

A 1984 study by the National Academy of Sciences estimated the savings to be 167,000 barrels of oil per day or less than 2% of the country's fuel consumption. This equated to a savings of $2 billion a year in imported oil.

Senator Warner is asking the agencies four questions:

1. Given the significant technological improvements since 1974 what speed is the most fuel efficient in today's vehicles?

2. If a new national speed limit was enacted at the most fuel efficient speed what would the fuel savings be for the average consumer? 

3. How many barrels per day would be saved? Would the reduced consumption be expected to reduce the price of oil? If so what would be the range of savings?

4. How many barrels of oil would the Federal government save per day if it took the initiative in changing their own driving habits?

Warner said he was not currently trying to impose a new speed limit but if the facts came back as expected he would "quite probably try" to garner support to push forward with the legislation. He is doing this because he feels at least one-third of consumers are frantically trying to make ends meet and we need to come up with a solution.

Obviously he never considered that every consumer who wishes can drive 55 today and save that money without imposing the law on the 65% who don't want it. If you don't want a 55 mph speed limit this would be a good time to begin writing to your elected officials and protesting their attempt to save you money.

Jim Brown

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