The Gulf oil leak is terrible and depressing, but is there a chance it can have eco-benefits? For example, the American Public Transport Association’s regular “Dump the Pump” campaign has never seemed so attractive an idea.
Today is the fifth annual national Dump the Pump day, where the APTA encourages U.S. commuters all to use public transportation. The APTA urges uses of buses, trolleys, light rail networks, and even water taxis, and notes that “public transportation in the United States is a crucial part of the solution to the nation’s economic, energy and environmental challenges–helping to bring a better quality of life.”
Typically, Dump the Pump has pushed its economic message first and foremost. And even this year’s campaign leads with the idea that riding public transport is “the quickest way to beat high gas prices,” pointing to report that shows how a two-car household can save on average $9,000 per year by downsizing to one car. According to APTA the average household spends 18 cents out of every dollar on transport, of which 94% goes to supporting their car habit.
But with the Gulf oil disaster without an end in sight, Dump the Pump has a peculiarly powerful resonance this year. Sure, the actual amount of oil leaking per day is a tiny, tiny drop compared to the millions of gallons consumed by the petrochemicals industry in the U.S. every hour, but ditching your car and riding the bus for ecological reasons will now feel like a great idea for many eco-sensitive folks. Of course the environmentally savvy will note that much public transportation does still rely on the oil industry for energy–it’s just a much more efficient way to use it to move people around. But Dumping the Pump is still an excellent option until we’re all driving hydrogen fuel-cell cars, or riding in Tesla/Toyota EVs that have their electricity generated by wind farms.