Senators Feinstein and Snowe Introduce New Fuel Efficiency Legislation

Bill would close SUV loophole, requiring them to meet same fuel efficiency standards as passenger cars by 2011.

Published: 27-Jan-2005

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) today introduced legislation to equalize fuel efficiency standards for Sport Utility Vehicles and all other light duty trucks with that of passenger cars.

"This bill would close the 'SUV Loophole' and require that SUVs meet the same fuel efficiency standards as passenger cars by 2011," Senator Feinstein said. "Simply put, this legislation is the single most important step the United States can take to limit dependence on foreign oil and better protect our environment.

"When it comes to the fuel efficiency of America's SUV's, surely we can do better. Surely we can do better for our planet, for our pocketbooks, and for our promise for the future," said Senator Snowe. "This bill is a critical first step that reflects the fact that the federal government must lead in ensuring consumers have a choice of vehicles with high fuel economy, an appropriate degree of safety, and a minimal impact on our environment -- as documented by a study by the National Academy of Sciences. Closing the SUV loophole will help us meet these goals -- an idea whose time has long since arrived."

In December 2002, the Bush Administration announced an initiative to increase corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards to 22.2 miles per gallon by 2007 - a modest increase of 1.5 gallons over three years. The legislation introduced today would pick up where the Administration leaves off and gradually increase the fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and light duty trucks over the next 8 years.

The legislation would also require that the average fuel economy of the new vehicles purchased by the federal government be increased by 3 miles per gallon by 2007 and 6 miles per gallon by 2010. In addition, the bill would also increase the weight range within which vehicles are bound by CAFE standards, making it harder for automotive manufacturers to build SUVs too big to be regulated by CAFE standards.

"The overall fuel economy of our nation's fleet is the lowest it has been in two decades - largely because fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks are so much lower than they are for other passenger vehicles," Senator Feinstein said. "The bill we are introducing today would change that - and would save a million barrels of oil a day."

At a time of rising gasoline and energy prices, this measure would:

CAFE standards were first established in 1975. At that time, light trucks made up only a small percentage of the vehicles on the road and were used mostly for agriculture and commerce -- not as passenger vehicles.

However, SUVs and light duty trucks today comprise more than half of the new car sales in the United States. The explosive growth in light truck sales and SUVs has brought the average fuel economy of all the nation's new vehicles to its lowest point since 1980.

Last year, the National Academy of Sciences released a report which indicated that fuel economy can be significantly increased if automakers utilize existing technologies and include them in new models of SUVs and light trucks.

The legislation is also cosponsored by: Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Jim Jeffords (I-VT), and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

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