When I read the headline, I assumed the Congressman in question was going to be Chris Dodd or Harry Reid. Much to my chagrin, it was a Republican Senator.

“Republican” (in name only) John Warner has asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide optimum fuel efficiency, in the interest of enacting a national speed limit.

This isn’t the first time a national speed limit has been imposed in the US. In 1974 a national speed limit of 55mph was imposed in the midst of the Arab oil embargo. The speed limit was repealed in 1994 when the price of a barrel of oil dropped to $17 (!) and the average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.10. It is estimated that said speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil per day.

While it very well may be a good idea to drive slower in order to save gasoline (it is estimated that for every 5mph over 60mph, one ends up paying an additional 30 cents per gallon in fuel costs), there are a couple of things I’d like to point out about this horrible, horrible idea.

One, it increases the size and scope of government. While I find it completely reasonable that the people who issue my drivers license (i.e., the state) tell me how fast I can drive, I’d really rather tell the Federal government to stick it up their tail pipe. Telling us how fast we can travel on area roadways was not what our forefathers had in mind when they penned the Constitution. Which we could argue about all the live-long day…how this takes me back to my college Constitutional Law class and the heated arguments therein.

Second, and possibly more persuasive: there are better things we can do. I could try and try to get every moron on the face of the planet to try and conserve gas just like me, but the fact of the matter is, most people just don’t care. They’ll stop going to Starbucks rather than cut down on gas consumption, and, short of a government mandate (such as a national speed limit), they’re not going to change. A better option would be for government to get out of the way. Why are gas prices so high? Environmentalists will tell you it’s all the fault of your gas-guzzling SUV. I’m here to tell you it’s the government (and the environmentalists in their pockets).

US gas prices are actually lower than those in other, more Socialistic, countries. Take England, for example. What does that tell you? The more government gets involved, the worse things get for us.

Rather than passing laws to curb consumption, our government should be getting out of the way of production. Should we continue to use oil like we’re never going to run out? No. But should our government be passing laws to keep us from using the oil that we have? Absolutely not.

And Energy Department spokeswoman Angela Hill agrees: “If Congress is serious about addressing gasoline prices, they must take action on expanding domestic oil and natural gas production.”