Senate Caves In to Auto and Labor Pressure on Fuel Efficiency

"The Senate is handing our nation's energy security over to the auto industry," said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope.

Published: 14-Mar-2002

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday rejected a proposal for a 50 percent boost in fuel efficiency for gas-guzzling cars and sport utility vehicles, giving a victory to the heavy lobbying of the auto industry and a defeat to environmentalists.

Instead, lawmakers gave the federal government two years to develop its own targets. They also agreed to exempt pickup trucks -- which account for 19 percent of automakers' sales -- from any future increases in vehicle fuel requirements.

However, it remained uncertain whether the Senate's fuel economy provision would become law because it is part of an underlying energy bill that faces a tough fight through next week.

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