Senate Fuel Economy Vote Sacrifices National Security to Special Interest Pressure

WASHINGTON (March 13, 2002) -- Today the Senate took a major step backward on energy by rejecting a proposal that would have significantly increased fuel economy standards for cars and SUVs. During debate on a pending energy bill the Senate adopted, by a vote of 62 to 38, an amendment sponsored by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Kit Bond (R-MO) that eliminated the fuel economy increase. Following is the statement by Dr. Dan Lashof, science director of NRDC's climate center, in response to the vote.

"Powerful special interests defeated America's best opportunity to cut our dependence on foreign oil. Americans have said again and again, in poll after poll, that they want cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks. We have the technology to build them. But Detroit says it can't, and trots out the same overblown rhetoric that they used to fight everything from turn signals to air bags."

"Even with national security at stake, the car companies spent millions to stop progress in its tracks, putting profits ahead of national interest. The fuel economy standard proposed by Senators Kerry (D-Mass.) and McCain (R-Ariz.) would have saved 2 million barrels of oil a day by 2020 -- more than we now import from Saudi Arabia."

"Instead, the Levin-Bond amendment backed by industry and passed today strips important safety standards from the energy bill and sends fuel economy standards into a black hole. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is under the command of a White House that opposes significant improvements in fuel economy standards, and which will not deliver them."

"The decision today cuts the heart out of the Senate energy bill, and deals a blow to Americans' safety and security."

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.


March 5, 2002, "Industry Attempting to Cripple Senate Energy Bill"

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