Fuel economy standards set to be increased

Legislation to increase fuel standards in the USA is in motion

Hopefully this legislation will lag changes in the market. As plug-in hybrids and all electric vehicles get become dominant over the next 20 years.

A plan to increase fuel efficiency standards to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 won approval from a Senate panel Tuesday in a vote closely watched by automakers and environmental groups. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the measure, hich would raise the nationwide fleet fuel economy average by about 40 percent from current levels of 25 mpg for cars and trucks. The bill, approved on a voice vote, would also increase standards by 4 percent a year from 2020 through 2030.

Fuel economy standards have made little progress in the past 20 years. Passenger cars are required to meet a fleetwide average of 27.5 miles per gallon while SUVs, pickup trucks and vans must meet a standard of 22.2 mpg.

Lawmakers said the bill was a compromise that would likely face a number of changes on the Senate floor. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the committee’s top Republican, and Trent Lott, R-Miss., said they had concerns about how it might affect trucks and its overall fairness.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., meanwhile, said he would aim for a fleet increase of up to 40 mpg by 2020, while Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wants to guarantee 31 mpg by 2015 and 35 mpg by 2020.

Alan Reuther, the United Auto Workers’ legislative director, wrote Inouye that it would force manufacturers “to close more facilities, destroying tens of thousands of additional jobs and undermining the economic base of communities across this country.”

Environmentalists said they were concerned that the proposal was weaker than one offered by President Bush, which would set a goal of a 4 percent annual increase while expanding use of alternative fuels.

“When you look at all the loopholes in this 35 mpg bill, it kind of looks like Swiss cheese,” said David Friedman of the Union of Concerned Scientists.