Monday, July 28, 2008

Is this a joke? Constitutionality of New Speed Limit Bill

Does Congress have the Constitutional authority to make this law?

Posted by Cary Valerio of Project Liberty

Congress asked to consider new speed limit

W.J. Hennigan (Contact)
Monday, July 28, 2008

Check your rearview mirror. It's back. The controversial and widely ignored national speed limit, lifted in 1995 after an 11-year run, is again being touted in the halls of Congress as a remedy for skyrocketing gas prices. The lead proponent, Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, is sponsoring the Immediate Steps to Conserve Gasoline Act. The measure aims to curb high fuel costs by asking the federal government to take another look at reimposing a national speed limit.

Mr. Warner does not define what the national speed limit should be, but notes that when the U.S. had a national 55 mph speed limit from 1974 to 1995, an average of 167,000 barrels of oil were saved each day.

High-speed traffic zips along Interstate 270 in Montgomery County.

Despite the potential savings, the idea doesn't sit well with most Americans. A Rasmussen poll released on July 7 said that 59 percent of voters oppose the proposed reinstatement of the 55 mph national speed limit, with only 34 percent supporting it.

"My own son came up to me and said, 'Pops, this is not a good idea,'" Mr. Warner said, referring to his race-car-driving son, John W. Warner IV. "But I have to try to bring the pressure off the American people at the pumps."

To find a suitable speed limit, Mr. Warner wrote a letter to Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman asking him to find which speed would be the most fuel-efficient, so the greatest savings for U.S. consumers can be achieved. A spokeswoman did not confirm the speed that meets Mr. Warner's requirements, but the Energy Department's Web site tells motorists that for each 5 mph over 60 mph they drive, they are essentially paying an additional 30 cents per gallon for gas.

When the national 55 mph speed limit was first imposed, the country was going through a fuel-conserving frenzy brought on by a 1973 oil embargo. Gas prices were through the roof, and the cars that were built in those days were genuine gas guzzlers.

Allison Shelley / The Washington Times Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, proposed the Gasoline Savings and Speed Limit Reduction Act as her first bill after taking office in April. Her bill would set a national speed limit at from 60 mph to 65 mph, depending on location.

There is no such embargo today, and cars are much more fuel efficient, but demand has driven gas prices to record-breaking highs. To put it in perspective, in June 1974, the average price for a gallon of gas went from about 40 cents to 55 cents a gallon. Adjusted for inflation, that's about $1.90 and $2.70 in today's dollars. Now the national average is around $4.02 a gallon.

Mr. Warner's argument is that slower driving saves money and gas because cars get their highest fuel efficiency at speeds of about 55 mph. Therefore, lower speeds will put a damper on demand.

But Jim Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association, says people never paid attention to the first law. So how will it help this time around?



  1. This is not really a movement to conserve energy as much as it is an initiative to generate revenue. The czars in Washington thrive on building monuments to them selves and can hardly resist an opportunity to increase their traffic fine revenue by 500%. I am reminded of a passage in Atlas Shrugged that pretty much sums it up...

    Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? ...We want them broken... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt.
    (Dr. Floyd Ferris, Atlas Shrugged)

  2. "Does Congress have the Constitutional authority to make this law?"

    No they don't. They don't have authority to do most of the things they do.

  3. I liked Ragnar's comments about this being an initiative to generate revenue. I completely agree.



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