Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and the GOP have recently had a field day chuckling over recent comments by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) regarding tire pressure. Here's what Obama originally had to say:
There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy. ... 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.
And McCain has chuckled about this and his campaign has even handed out tire gauges marked "Obama's Energy Plan". He's had this to say:
We need oil drilling and we need it now offshore and we need it now. He has consistently opposed it. He has opposed nuclear power. He has opposed reprocessing. He has opposed storage. And the only thing I’ve heard him say is that we should inflate our tires. So he has no plan for addressing the energy challenges that we face.
Today, Obama decided he'd had enough and fired back, making the left-wing blogosphere incredibly happy.
Two points: One, they know they are lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they are making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent.
It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.
One, they're not lying, but mocking you. This is the way big league campaigns work. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Two, sorry Senator, but the numbers just don't add up, and continuing to assert that they do, makes it look like you're the one taking pride in being ignorant.
Jim Geraghty has done the math.
This article from U.S. News and World Report says the average worker commutes 33 miles between work and home each day and that the average car gets about 24 miles per gallon. Thus, the average worker is using 1.375 gallons per day.
Let’s be generous and say a properly inflated tire gives a full extra three miles per gallon. So a commuter who had previously insufficiently inflated tires starts using 1.22 gallons per day. They’re saving .153 gallons per day.
This 2003 press release puts the number of commuters in America at a little over 129 million. So we have one third of those commuters – 43 million – saving .153 gallons per day, or almost 6.58 million gallons.
6.58 million gallons per day. That's a lot. No doubt about it, Obama. We definitely need to check our tire pressure, but even McCain has admitted that's a good idea. But, let's look at what you keep saying:
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.
So, 6.58 million gallons per day is all we can expect to get from all that drilling?
But this 2006 report from the federal Minerals Management Service puts the recoverable oil from the Outer Continental Shelf at just under 86 billion barrels of oil; one barrel of crude oil yields approximately 19.6 gallons of finished motor gasoline.
So it would indeed be nice if Americans pumped up their tires sufficiently, and we started seeing some of that 4.9 million to 6.5 million gallons saved per day. But why it has to be an either/or in regards to the 1.6 trillion gallons of gasoline in the OCS (not even getting into ANWR), as Obama insists, is not clear.
Let's pause a moment and let that number sink in. 1.6 trillion gallons of gasoline. But, how much could we retrieve per day? Maybe he's right after all. Well, even this article on Slate says 3 million barrels per day. And I've seen estimates much higher. That equates to 58.8 million gallons per day. I have a degree in mathematics, true, but I don't think you have to have one to see that 58.8 million is much greater than 6.58 million.
Sorry, Barack, you lose. Would you like a copy of our home game?