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Senate Votes for Increasing Fuel Economy Requirements (CAFE)

Two amendments proposing increases in fuel efficiency (CAFE) requirements for passenger automobiles entered the Senate debate over the energy bill today.

The first, sponsored by Christopher Bond (R-MO), proposed CAFE increases based on “maximum feasible average fuel economy levels,” factoring in a number of considerations including economics and the competitive positions of manufacturers.

The second, proposed by Dick Durbin (D-IL), specified phased increases in the CAFE regulations up to 40 mpg in 2016, redefined “passenger automobile” to include most SUVs and light trucks, and specified civil penalties for non-compliance.

With these two amendments, as with the climate change amendments earlier in the week, there was a choice between one version that “bought into” the concept without getting specific, and another one that specified measurable goals as well as penalties for not reaching those goals.

The Senate agreed to the Bond amendment 64 to 31, and rejected the Durbin amendment 28–67. Whether the Bond amendment will survive the process of integration with the House version is another question.

Further Action on Amendments to Senate Energy Bill 22–23 Jun 05
Primary SponsorVote (Y-N-A)Description
Bond (R-MO) 64–31–5 Accepted.. To impose additional CAFE requirements “determined on the basis of the maximum feasible average fuel economy levels for the passenger automobiles.“ To accelerate development of hybrids with an additional $50M in R&D funding over three years. To accelerate the development of clean, high-efficiency diesels with an additional $75M in R&D funding over three years. Hybrid and alternative fuel vehicle procurement for federal agencies.
Durbin (D-IL) 28–67–5 Rejected. To phase in additional CAFE requirements for passenger autombiles starting at 28 mpg in 2007 and reaching 40 mpg in 2016. To change the definition of “passenger automobile” to include vehicles of up to 12,000 pounds gross vehicle weight—i.e., SUVs and trucks, with exclusions for certain definitions of commercial-style vehicles. To impose civil penalties for non-compliance. To set a higher fuel conomy threshold for government executive agencies.
Levin (D-MI) UC[1] Accepted.. To provide a budget roadmap for the transition to hydrogen vehicles by 2020.
Pryor (D-AR) UC Accepted. To require the submission of reports on the potential of biodiesel and H-CNG (hydrogen/CNG blend) to be used as major, sustainable alternative fuels.
Boxer (D-CA) UC Accepted. To require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to complete its investigation and order refunds on the rates charged to California during its 2000–2001 electricity crisis.
Dodd (D-CT) UC Accepted. For the National Academy of Sciences to determine the effect electrical contaminants (such as tin whiskers) may have on the reliability of energy production systems, including nuclear.
Clinton (D-NY) UC Accepted. To establish a National Priority Project program, designation and award to go to organizations that have advanced the field of renewable energy technology.
Voinovich (R-OH) UC Accepted. To promote and to develop fuel-efficient technology for aviation.
Jeffords (I-VT) UC Accepted. To commission a study for the roof of the Senate office building that facilitates incorporating energy efficient technologies.
Murkowski (R-AK) UC Accepted. To make Alaska native Corporations eligible for renewable energy production incentives.
Sununu (R-NH) 21–76–3 Rejected. To strike the section from the bill relating to incentives for innovative technologies across a wide range of categories.
[1] UC = Unanimous Consent




40 mpg by 2016? What a bunch of rotten brains in the Senate. My cars getting 50 mpg TODAY using an engine designed eight years ago. Just further proof that our
`democratic' government is the in the hands of monied


Jeffrey Dubinsky


I know what you mean. Though I do not have a diesel I do drive a 3cyl Geo Metro. The best car ever. Does it have good performance? No. Does it get good MPG? Heck yes, about 42-44 mixed. Is it safe? Yes. Though it is small it has good crash test results. Is it reliable? Yes! Was it inexpensive? Indeed. Am I worried someone will steal it? Not at all. Is it practical? Yup. As with most hatchbacks you can fit stuff in the car you never would even think of trying with a sedan.

Are they still making the cars? Of course not! Why give someone a sensible choice.


40 mpg may not sound great, but the Prius is rated at 40-50 and its hybrid technology has the capability to increase mileage with the Plug-in extra battery packs.

Mileage ratings for the hybrid technology may never be more than 40-50 for the Prius class, but with the ability to recharge these batteries off the grid or rooftop photovoltiac panels, when daily miles driven can be kept to low on battery power alone, mileage is unlimited. Never run the IC engine.

The plug-in is the state of the art. What's needed is more argument like, these hybrids are safer, burn cleaner, can run on a variety of fuels, do not require complete retooling of vehicle manufacture, etc etc.

The greatest advantage of the plug-in Hybrid is the incentive to drive less on battery power alone. Short-distance driving supports the growth of local economies, services, institutions and amenities which then become more and more accessable by walking and bicycling. Mass transit also functions better in a built environment that serves walkers and bicyclers.

The reason Bushco supports hydrogen is because it cannot be generated, compressed and stored at household scale. We will have to drive to the hydrogen filling station and pay up. The Plug-in Hybrid allows each household their own renewable, unlimited power supply. Can't have that. Too democratic.

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