America’s cars and light trucks consume 8 million barrels of oil every day—more than 40 percent of total U.S. oil consumption. Raising the miles-per-gallon of these vehicles is the biggest single step the U.S. could take to cut both oil dependence and global warming emissions.
Under current Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, cars are required to meet a 27.5 miles per gallon standard. By contrast, light trucks, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans and pickup trucks, must meet a standard of only 21.6 miles per gallon. The Bush Administration is moving to raise that standard to 22.2 miles per gallon by 2007. But with more and more gas-guzzling SUVs and other light trucks replacing cars on the nation’s highways, the fuel economy of new vehicles has sunk to its lowest level since the early 1980s.
During consideration of H.R. 6, the House energy bill, Representatives Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Ed Markey (D-MA) proposed an amendment to raise the CAFE standard for cars and light trucks to 33 miles per gallon by 2016. If enacted, House Amendment 73 would have saved 1 million barrels of oil a day by 2016—more than could be pumped from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at peak production—and would have prevented the annual release of 150 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
On April 20, 2005, the House rejected the Boehlert-Markey amendment by a 177-254 vote (House roll call vote 121). YES is the pro-environment vote.