Is Forced to Agree with Obama, NASCAR, AAA, And Common Sense That It Does Save Gas...
By Jon Ponder on 8/7/2008, 3:40pm PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

“There are things you can do individually to save energy,” Barack Obama said last week “… Making sure your tires are properly inflated — simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling — if everybody was just inflating their tires. And getting regular tune-ups. You’d actually save just as much.”

Despite the fact that even NASCAR extols the gas-saving virtues of proper tire inflation on its website, the McCain campaign spent the early part of this week mocking Obama’s assertion that keeping tires inflated conserves gasoline by selling tire gauges, for a $25 donation, labeled “Obama Energy Plan.”

On Wednesday night, however, during a conference call with supporters, McCain did a complete 180 on tire inflation:

"And could I mention that Sen. Obama a couple of days ago said that we ought to all inflate our tires, and I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it, but I also don't think that that's a way to become energy independent."

Maybe not, but experts agree that properly inflating tires could make a big difference:

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "every pound per square inch of tire underinflation wastes 4 million gallons of gas daily in the U.S." Survey information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 27 percent of the cars on the road have a significantly under-inflated tire...

"[The] production offset is ... likely to approach 800,000 barrels per day -– a tidy sum and a worthwhile target for savings, but not equal to [Outer Continental Shelf] output," [wrote Frank Verrastro, Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).]

Keeping tires inflated would have a much longer term benefit than offshore drilling however, because it is a sustainable practice, whereas --- despite Republican talking points to the contrary --- U.S. underseas oil reserves would meet global demand for only seven months:

The Department of Energy estimates that there are eighteen billion barrels of technically recoverable oil in offshore areas of the continental United States that are now closed to drilling. This sounds like a lot, until you consider that oil is a globally traded commodity and that, at current rates of consumption, eighteen billion barrels would satisfy less than seven months of global demand. A D.O.E. report issued last year predicted that it would take two decades for drilling in restricted areas to have a noticeable effect on domestic production, and that, even then, “because oil prices are determined on the international market,” the impact on fuel costs would be “insignificant.”

Predictably, the media are letting McCain's latest gaffe pass, but at least Obama took an opportunity to poke a little fun at his rival. Noting McCain's change of position, Obama said, "It will be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain."