Detroit's Big Three automakers are counting on a new plan by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, and Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., to thwart the latest congressional effort to raise fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, according to a Detroit News story by Jeff Plungis. The Levin-Bond proposal, to be unveiled as early as March 11, would leave the decision on how much to increase mileage rules to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an approach backed by the Bush administration. The lawmakers and the auto industry argue that NHTSA has the technical expertise to balance fuel economy requirements with safety issues and the impact on jobs. A vote on the fuel economy issue is likely this week in the Senate, which is debating a comprehensive energy bill aimed at weaning America from its dependence on foreign oil. NHTSA has been barred by Congress from studying fuel economy requirements for the last six years. Levin's latest proposal would give regulators a deadline to propose new rules, after which the issue could be debated in Congress again.