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Proposal Codifies Weak Fuel Economy Rules, Ties Future Presidents' Hands

WASHINGTON (May 11, 2006) -- At a time when we need real action to reduce our oil addiction, the Bush administration has drafted legislation that would make it harder to improve fuel economy performance standards. If enacted, the proposal would tie the hands of this and future administrations that seek to raise standards, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).

"This proposal would effectively prevent a president from requiring automakers to produce vehicles that are not only safe and versatile but also fuel efficient, so America can break its oil addiction," said David Hawkins, director of NRDC's Climate Center.

"This administration is seeking to carve its irresponsible energy strategy into stone," Hawkins said.

The legislative language, sent to Congress without fanfare on Wednesday, also would effectively immunize the administration from legal challenge to its fuel economy standards for SUVs and other light trucks, which 10 states, NRDC and other environmental groups contested last month, said David D. Doniger, policy director of NRDC's Climate Center.

The administration's latest proposal would weaken the government's authority to improve fuel efficiency by replacing the current law's "best technology" approach to standard setting with a new "marginal cost/marginal benefit analysis" test.

"The Big Three are in trouble precisely because management bet the farm on gas guzzlers, and Washington helped them do it," Hawkins said. "If we want to preserve this vital industry, we need real vision. Fuel economy performance is the biggest opportunity we have to kick this dangerous habit."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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