NRDC Supports Congressional Efforts to Close SUV Loopholes

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 30, 2003) -- In the face of America's growing dependence on foreign oil, members of the United States Senate are taking action. Today a bi-partisan coalition of U.S. Senators, led by Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced legislation to require automobile manufacturers to raise fuel economy standards for light trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to 27.5 miles per gallon by 2011. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) also introduced a bill to close a tax loophole that promotes the purchase of the least efficient SUVs by allowing business owners to receive an immediate tax deduction of up to $25,000 for buying heavier vehicles. This deduction would increase to up to $75,000 under the administration's recent tax proposals.

Daniel Lashof, science director of NRDC's Climate Center, is available for comment on these bills at (202) 289-2399. Below is his statement:

"The average mileage of new automobiles is at its lowest level in 21 years, in large part because half of all new vehicles sold in this country are gas guzzling SUVs and light trucks.

"Thirty years of collusion between Washington and Detroit mean that today's SUVs burn too much fuel, emit too much pollution and put too many lives in danger. We know how to build safer, cleaner, more efficient trucks and SUVs.

"Senators in both parties recognize that our nation is dangerously dependent on foreign oil. Those serious about improving America's energy security therefore understand the absolute necessity of higher mileage standards for SUVs and light trucks.

"The modest increase in mileage requirements called for in the Feinstein-Snowe bill is definitely doable for Detroit. Automakers have the technology to go further to reduce our oil dependence by making all vehicles safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient.

"Sen. Boxer's bill limiting the tax credit for SUVs to the same level as that available for passenger cars is just common sense. After all, Americans spend more than $20 billion per year on oil from the Persian Gulf. It's ludicrous to give bigger tax breaks to those buying bigger vehicles that use more gas."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.