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Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Bill to Increase CAFE Standards

A bipartisan coalition of 16 House Members has introduced legislation calling for increasing fuel economy (CAFE) standards by 32%—from the current level of 25 mpg to 33 mpg over the next 10 years.

Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are the sponsors of the bill.

[Hurricane Katrina] also exposed how vulnerable we remain to high gas prices and disruptions in our oil supply. It laid bare our comfortable indifference to an inefficient transportation sector, and it swept away the illusion that a successful business strategy for automakers is to bet the farm on gas-guzzlers and simply pray for eternally low gas prices.

—Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY)

The original cosponsors of the Boehlert-Markey bill include Representatives Todd Platts (R-PA), John Lewis (D-GA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chris Shays (R-CT), Brad Miller (D-NC), Jim Leach (R-IA), John Olver (D-MA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Hilda Solis (D-CA), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), and Ray LaHood (R-IL).

Raising the miles-per-gallon standard is the greatest no-brainer issue in Congress. Domestically, it is the most logical way to counter high gasoline prices and constrain environmental degradation. Internationally, American national security requires that we reduce petroleum usage. It is costly to defend the seaways, and because dependence on foreign oil jeopardizes our sovereignty, it makes recourse to war too tenable.

—Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA)

The bill would allow the Secretary of Transportation to establish separate standards for different size vehicles, as long as the overall average of the fleet is at least 33 mpg. This would allow the Secretary to implement a size-based system similar to the Administration’s proposal for reforming light-truck fuel economy standards. The Secretary would also be authorized to establish a credit trading program between manufacturers.

(A hat-tip to Greg Thornwall!)




Heck, I'll take a compramise to 29 or 30 mpg in the same timeframe -- anything that helps.

Of course, the easiest way to make a difference is to hold heavy non-commercial vehicles to the same standards. Driving your SUV to and from a soccer game? Hold it as accountable as a minivan or station wagon. Driving your pickup truck to and from the grocery store? Hold it as accountable as a sedan.

Eliminating the incentive to buy even heavier vehicles to avoid the CAFE standards will do more to improve fuel economy than any other legislation. Let's see if they can include more tank-like vehicles in CAFE...

Lance Funston

Making tax breaks for trucks and SUV contingent on displaying clear signage on the vehicle with company name and phone number would put a quick end to the abuse of these exhorbitant tax breaks originally conceived to help farmers, contractors, and river guides.


Now they get religion. Too little, too late.

Harvey D

And, I thought that all Americans were officially declared equal under the constitution. I guess I was wrong 'cause owners of large 4 x 4, large pick-ups and other gas guzzlers seem to have on-going special treatmemts? Why not treat all drivers equally (democratically) and compensate (or show compasion for) the overly affected few.


Don't get your hopes up. Detroit's lobbyists haven't been heard from yet. They seem to have forgotten that Hank Ford got rich selling small light cars.


The problem here is 33 mpg is way too LOW. How about making the average 40 MPG for starters and all SUV's and trucks be held to the same standard.

A Toyoyta Prius gets better than that already and so does a VW TDI. If all cars were just smaller and lighter, they could get this mileage easily.

What if we charged 100 dollars for every mpg below 40 mpg and gave a rebate of 100 for every mpg above 40 mpg. So a Hummer H2 at 12 mpg would get charged a clean air "user fee" of 2800 and a Prius at 51 MPG would get a rebate of 1100.

The revenue from this could be used to pay down the bill for the Iraq quagmire.


It seems to me that the Prius-type, active hybrid drivetrain is applicable to all vehicles, subcompact to large SUV. If a larger battery pack can pair with a smaller IC engine, a hybrid application to ought to achieve mileage gains universally. I am disappointed that GM, Chrysler and Honda have built 'mild' hybrids that delay real progress.

A better argument for high-mileage 'active' hybrids should include their safety features - an electric motor drivetrain is driven less recklessly; battery weight improves stability and handling; etc. No one should believe GM's prototype 'drive-by-wire' and 'in-wheel' electric motor systems are not "dangerously vulnerable" to any chance disruption like say, a pothole or an incompatable radio wave. GM isn't concerned about vehicle safety, but they should be.

Robert Merkel

In this discussion, shouldn't we acknowledge that CAFE standards are a very dumb way to encourage lower fuel usage?

At the very least, if the CAFE tax applied to a specific vehicle rather than across the vehicle range, people would have an incentive to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle?

But seriously, wouldn't the sensible thing be to remove the CAFE tax altogether and replace it with more tax on fuel? That way, not only is the choice of a fuel efficient vehicle encouraged, more efficient use of fuel is encouraged.


They also have until 2016, tens years! You think they could do it in a shorter time frame...With peak oil looming it might be too late. I remember reading in the DOE report on peak oil that it would take at least 1 trillion dollars to replace all the low mileage vehicles in the US and it could take ten years.

They should do multiple things:

1. increase fuel taxes
2. feebates, tax low MPG trucks/cars and rebates on high MPG cars
3. Improve mass transit
4. telecommuting
5. use rail for shipping long distances
6. etc...


Set law to bann all personal transport and only mass transit allowed! That will deal with all low and high MPG problem together with traffic problems. Hahaha.

Only thing is that we might get roits here and there.

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