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, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) proposed an amendment to raise the CAFE standard for cars, SUVs, and minivans to 40 miles per gallon by 2015. If enacted, Durbin’s Senate Amendment 902 would have saved 3.1 million barrels of oil a day by 2020—as much oil as the U.S. currently imports from the Persian Gulf and could extract from the Arctic Refuge and the California outer continental shelf, combined—and would have annually kept more than 500 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the air.
On June 23, 2005, the Senate rejected the Durbin amendment by a 28-67 vote (Senate roll call vote 157). YES is the pro-environment vote.