In my opinion, one of the quickest ways to reduce our oil consumption in the U.S. is by lowering the speed limits. I suggested this in an essay a couple of years ago: I Can Drive 55. There were a fair number of negative comments regarding that essay from people who didn’t want to be inconvenienced in this way. For me, I prefer the inconvenience now of taking 5 extra minutes to get somewhere over simply not having the oil later on.
Over at Beyond the Barrel, Marianne Lavelle reports that some of the big trucking companies are ready to embrace lower speed limits:
A highway slowdown has begun in response to high energy prices—and the big trucking companies are leading the way. Con-Way Freight, one of the nation’s largest trucking firms with 8,500 rigs, has announced it is turning back the electronic speed limiters in its entire fleet from 65 miles per hour to 62 mph.
The company estimates that by keeping its drivers below that speed, it will save 3.2 million gallons of diesel fuel a year, while eliminating 72 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions—the equivalent of removing 7,300 automobiles from the nation’s highways. And with diesel fuel at the current price of about $4 per gallon, Con-Way will be saving $12.8 million per year, a significant figure for a company that saw its operating income drop 27 percent last year to $235 million.
She notes that the move isn’t embraced by all truckers, but I think high gas prices will continue to dictate responses like this.
I am not sure if the airline industry has any viable options for reducing their fuel bills, but they are another industry in trouble from higher oil prices. I had read recently that with oil at $50/bbl, they were very profitable. With oil at $100/bbl, all of their profits were gone. They are in a tough spot; higher ticket prices will reduce demand, but the current ticket prices are losing them money. This is akin to the situation with oil refiners; with oil at $100/bbl, it is tough to pass on price increases and maintain decent margins.