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I Can Drive 55



In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine ("Fascism 101," March 17) and the need to stop buying Russian oil, The International Energy Agency issued a press release March 18 promoting its 10-Point Plan for developed countries to ease both the oil supply crunch and the pain of rising gas prices.

Following the plan would lower oil demand by 2.7 million barrels per day within four months — an amount equivalent to the oil demand of all the cars in China.

First on the list is lowering highway speeds by at least 10 kilometers per hour (6 mph). (Car-free Sundays in cities, carpooling, making public transport cheaper, avoiding flying and incentivizing walking and cycling are also on the list.)

Bob Schildgen, writing in the Sierra Club magazine, says this about achieving fuel efficiency in cars: "About 55 mph is the optimum speed for most cars. Kick it up to 65 mph you are 8 percent less efficient; at 80 mph you are 28 percent less efficient."

Legislating 55 mph on highways would be politically unpopular and we need Biden and a Democratic House and Senate in order to make progress against the climate crisis — instead of going backward as we did in the previous administration.

But climate-aware citizens don't need legislation to force them to do the right thing. We can do this now — ourselves. We can reduce our carbon footprint, save money, save lives, and show solidarity with the people of Ukraine by driving 55 to 59 mph on highways. It is so little to ask.

I've been driving 55 for years (and staying in the right lane, of course) and have literally never noticed a negative reaction from cars around me. When I'm on I-5, I'll accelerate to 60 if I need to be more in the flow with other cars. As it is now, the speed limit for trucks with three or more axles is 55.

The Climate Action Campaign at the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has a bumper sticker that says "DRIVE 55, Keep Earth alive." Contact me if you'd like one —[email protected].

Margaret Emerson, Arcata

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