Washington Riding Expressway to High-Mileage Cars
As Gas Prices Rise, Congress Pushes Automakers on Fuel Performance
WASHINGTON (March 13, 2007) -- As gas prices begin their latest spike and global warming emissions are at the top of a busy legislative agenda, the effort to make America’s cars, trucks and SUVs go farther on a gallon of gas gains renewed momentum in Washington this week. A bill with bi-partisan support will be introduced on the eve of a significant hearing in which America’s Big Three automakers will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
This follows President Bush’s State of the Union announcement that he favors a 4 percent per year increase in fuel economy standards. In January, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) unveiled an even more aggressive proposal, followed by senators on both sides of the aisle -- led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) -- proposing to advance performance by 10 miles per gallon in 10 years. Last week, a leading presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), unveiled a bill requiring an improvement that matches the president’s goals.
Today, in the House of Representatives, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduces the Fuel Economy Reform Act, along with Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.). This bill is garnering an unusual number of supporters from both parties.
Tomorrow, the issue of fuel performance will also be front and center in a hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) will lead questioning of witnesses from the “Big Three” auto companies -- Ford, General Motors and Chrysler -- along with Toyota and the United Auto Workers.
Meanwhile, gas prices have risen 33 cents over the past month, according to AAA.
Below is the statement from Deron Lovaas, Vehicles Campaign Director for NRDC:
“Boosting the fuel performance of our cars and trucks is just what the doctor ordered to treat our oil addiction and curb our global warming fever. Cars and trucks that get more miles per gallon mean more choices for American consumers, and more money staying in their pockets. This is also the best medicine to help our ailing domestic auto industry compete.
“The National Academy of Sciences found in 2002 that we have the technology to cut fuel use and emissions --safely and cost effectively. The bill proposed today by Representative Markey and others would yield huge dividends for the nation in 10 years, including nearly 200 million tons of global warming pollution prevented, more than a million barrels of oil a day saved, and more than $30 billion of savings at the pump for consumers like you and me.
“We look forward to working with both chambers of Congress and the administration to enact this policy for the sake of our climate and our national security.”