Car Dealer Campaign Drives 'Science-Based' Fuel Economy Standards
The National Automobile Dealers Association's advocacy helped win passage of a Senate amendment March 13 that would ensure vehiclefuel efficiency is improved without significant and adverse impacts on consumers, dealers and manufacturers, according to NADA.The Senate passed by a vote of 62 to 38 an NADA-supported bipartisan amendment to the pending energy bill which authorizes the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to set new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks within a specified timeframe.The amendment, co-authored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.), directs the agency to take into consideration the following factors: technological feasibility; the effect on motor vehicle safety; the effect of increased fuel economy on air quality; the effect on U.S. employment; and the cost and lead-time required for the introduction of new technologies."The Levin-Bond amendment ensures that importantprogress is made in increasing energy efficiencies while also ensuring that the automobile industry continues to be a vital part of our nation's economic recovery," said Carter Myers, chairman of NADA.The measure replaces an energy bill provision drafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) that would have required automakers to increase the combinedaverage fuel economy for passenger vehicles and light trucks to 36 miles per gallon by 2015.Sen. Kerry, sponsor of the 36 mpg proposal, said the new proposal -- which replaced his in a broad energy bill -- was "an artful dodge, a great escape" from doing anything about fuel economy. "We are going backward," Kerry said.Federal fuel economy rules have not changed in 15 years, noted Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who said the vote was "a missed opportunity ... to pass meaningful" standards.The House already has turned down significant increases in auto fuel economy.