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 standard 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 S. 10, the Senate energy bill, Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced an amendment that would continue allowing automakers
to make fewer high-mileage cars if they also make vehicles that run on both ethanol and gasoline. Few of these dual fuel vehicles, however, actually run on ethanol, in part because a small percentage of the nation’s gas stations carry that fuel.
According to the Bush Administration’s own analysis, the Bond-Levin amendment would have actually increased oil dependence by at least 155,000 barrels of oil per day by 2008.
The Bond-Levin amendment would also have made it harder for the Transportation Department to set future CAFE standards.
On June 23, 2005, Senate Amendment 925 was approved by a 64-31 vote (Senate roll call vote 156). NO is the pro-environment vote.