Soft Rules do More Harm than Good for Detroit, Autoworkers, Analyst Says

Statement by Roland Hwang, NRDC Vehicles Policy Director

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2006) -- Anemic new fuel economy standards for SUVs, pickups and other so-called light trucks announced today by the Bush administration will do more harm than good for the U.S. auto industry and tens of thousands of people whose jobs hang in the balance, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Following is a statement by Roland Hwang:

"The Big Three automakers are in trouble today precisely because management bet the farm on gas guzzlers. When oil prices soared, the bottom fell out of their market and sent thousands of workers out the factory gates. Those prices aren't coming down soon. In fact most experts say that they will go higher.

"The administration is calling for baby steps at a time when the country needs bold action. By setting the bar low once again, the administration is setting the industry up for a continuing disaster. Engineering better fuel economy performance is the key to survival in today's intensely competitive auto market.

"Simply by raising the fuel economy standard for SUVs and other light trucks by just one mile per gallon per year over the next five years -- to 27.2 mpg by model year 2012 -- we could save one million barrels of oil per day by 2020. That's twice as much oil as we buy from Iraq, and three-quarters of our daily imports from Saudi Arabia.

"The issue isn't how fuel economy performance is calculated. The real question is how much the new standards will curb what President Bush has described as America's addiction to oil."