Fuel Economy Bill May Finally Become Law


The hotly debated energy bill kicking back and forth between the House and Senate may finally have reached a form that lawmakers can agree on.

After months of debate, the Senate version of a bill that would raise CAFE standards to 35 miles per gallon for the entire industry looks as if it may have enough support to make it through both bodies of Congress and past President Bush’s veto pen. The fleet standard of achieving 35 mpg fuel economy by 2020 remains intact.

Sliced from the bill, however, is a mandate for utility companies to produce a certain amount of energy from renewables and $21.8 billion in taxes on oil companies that would have funded incentive plans for alternative technologies like plug-in hybrids. The bill will now return to the House where it is expected to pass and then onto the President, who has said he will sign it in its current form.

What does this compromise mean to the consumer? It’s doubtful that car buyers will notice the difference, as the industry trend toward hybrids and other alternative technology will continue. However, it is important to note that the 40% increase in fuel economy standards (from 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.5 for trucks) does not apply to every vehicle in an automaker’s fleet. For every gas guzzler, the company must simply offer an efficient alternative in its lineup. The bill does nothing to alter consumer choice and creates no incentives for Americans to drive less.

Historic Fuel Deal is Reached (Detroit Free Press)

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