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Alternative Transportation Energy

UCD-ITS-RP-93-02

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Transportation energy issues are moving to the forefront of the public consciousness in the U.S. and particularly California, and gaining increasing attention legislators and regulators. The three principal concerns motivating interest in transportation energy are urban air quality, oil dependence, and the of global warming. Transportation fuels are a principal contributor to each of these. The transportation sector, mostly motor vehicles, contributes roughly half the urban air pollutants, almost one-third of the carbon dioxide, and consumes over 60% of all petroleum.

One promising strategy for resolving pollution and energy problems is the use of clean-burning alternative fuels. Alternative fuels are an appealing technical fix. They require much less change in personal behavior than mass transit ridesharing, and minimal changes in the behavior and organization of local governments. They relieve the pressure to coordinate and manage growth on a regional level. Alternative fuels are attractive because they are less disruptive politically and are institutionally easier to implement than strategies aimed at reducing the use of single-occupant autos and changing land use. Indeed, because they provide the promise of being environmentally benign, alternative fuels tantalize us with the prospect of never having to restrict motor vehicle use.
Published in The Environment of Oil, Studies in Industrial Organization, ed. Richard J. Gilbert, National Academy Press, chapter 4.