NRDC Urges Congress to Close SUV Loophole

WASHINGTON (July 26, 2001) - Legislation passed last week by the House Energy and Commerce Committee contains a provision to establish automobile fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks that purports to save 5 billion gallons of gasoline for model years 2004 through 2010. This provision is a "red herring." Why? The anticipated savings are negligible -- amounting to only one day of oil consumption per year.

Moreover, the bill could actually increase fuel consumption by mandating a four-year extension of CAFE credits for producing dual-fueled vehicles. Since these vehicles actually run almost exclusively on gasoline, the extension would increase gas consumption by 9 billion gallons.

NRDC expects Representative Ed Markey (D.-Mass.) to offer an amendment when the energy bill is debated on the House floor next week that would make a real difference for consumers and the environment. The Markey amendment would eliminate the SUV loophole in existing fuel economy standards, which allows SUVs and other light trucks to consume one-third more fuel per mile than cars. Closing this loophole would save more than 40 billion gallons of gasoline by 2010 and save consumers more than $7 billion at the pump that year, according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

As indicated by the chart below, the House fuel economy provision is a sham that is actually weaker than what automakers have already said they will do voluntarily.

Source of data for chart: Union of Concerned Scientists

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 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.