Press Releases

Senators Feinstein, Snowe, Inouye, Stevens, Dorgan, Durbin, Boxer, Cantwell, Collins, Carper, Klobuchar, and Smith Call for Upholding Provisions to Require Strong Fuel Economy Increases During Debate of Comprehensive Energy Package

- “Ten-in-Ten” bill, included in underlying Senate energy package, would raise fuel economy standards 10 miles per gallon over 10 years -

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), today called for upholding the provisions to require strong fuel economy increases that are included in the comprehensive energy bill now under consideration by the Senate.

The legislation, “Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act,” would raise fleetwide fuel economy standards for all cars, trucks and SUVs by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years – or from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by Model Year 2020 – and an additional 4 percent increase per year until 2030. It was approved with bipartisan support by the Commerce Committee in May.
 
“I think this bipartisan legislation strikes the right balance – and sets forth a significant, achievable standard for the future,” Senator Feinstein said. “It would increase the fleetwide average fuel economy of cars, SUVs, and light trucks by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years, and an additional 4 percent increase until 2030. The technology exists today to accomplish the goals of this legislation. It can be done without reducing safety, and with significant benefit to our economy and our environment.  And it does so in a way that gives auto manufacturers the flexibility and time that they need. So bottom line:  this is a practical, workable system that ensures substantial increases in fuel efficiency.”
 
“It’s been an entire generation since we’ve made substantive changes in the CAFÉ standards.  In that time, we’ve gone from land-lines to cell phones...from record players to CD’s to Ipods...from big mainframe computers to minuscule handhelds...from encyclopedias to the Internet.  Are we really to believe that over the next ten years we can’t manage an average of ten additional miles per gallon of gasoline across America’s entire fleet of passenger vehicles?  We can do it – and this bill is the right measure to finally set those wheels in motion,” Senator Snowe said.
 
By 2025, if fully enacted, the bill’s fuel economy increases for cars and light-duty trucks would:

  • Save 2.1 million barrels of oil per day, nearly the amount of oil imported today from the Persian Gulf.
  • Achieve an 18 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from anticipated levels, or the equivalent of taking 60 million cars off the road in one year).
  • Save consumers a net $70 billion in fuel costs, based on a $3.12 gas price.

“Reducing our oil demand is both a national security and ecological imperative,” Senator Inouye said, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. “The Senate has taken on the issue of increasing fuel economy multiple times since 1985 and those efforts have not succeeded.  While we cannot turn back the clock to reclaim lost opportunities, we can use existing technologies developed during this lost time and take the necessary steps to reduce fuel consumption tomorrow. We have worked in a bipartisan manner since the beginning of this Congress and the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act reflects those efforts as we take up that charge.” 

“The fuel economy issue for our cars and light trucks is significant as our country faces an energy crisis,” said Senator Stevens, Vice Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.  “Addressing this problem will require a combination of initiatives. Conservation, increased domestic production, and the development of alternative energy sources are all part of the solution.”

“The fact is, the automobile manufacturers really need to start using their skills to find ways to make automobiles more fuel efficient,” Senator Dorgan said. “For the past twenty five years there has been virtually no progress in that area. With nearly 70 percent of America’s energy consumption taking place in the transportation sector, this is something we can no longer afford to ignore. It’s time to force the issue.”

“Two years ago, when the Senate last considered energy policy, I introduced legislation that called for higher fuel economy standards,” said Senator Durbin.  “The Senate wasn’t ready for that bill. Since then, gasoline prices have risen 45%. The Senate should be ready now.  I know the American people are.”

“We don’t need to drill in wildlife refuges—all we need to do is pass this bill and increase our fuel economy by 10 miles per gallon over the next 10 years and we would have the equivalent of one ANWR every 7 years,” Senator Boxer said.  “The federal government should also be leading the way on fuel efficiency, which is why I am so pleased this bill includes my legislation to ensure that the 60,000 new cars purchased every year by the federal government are the most fuel efficient.  Getting better fuel economy is a major win for the American people, who really need a break as gas prices hit $4 a gallon in some parts of the country.”

“Our transportation system is out of date,” said Senator Cantwell.  “Most of the new vehicles coming onto our roads fail to take advantage of new technology that can save drivers money, cut emissions, and help end our oil addiction.  This bipartisan bill breaks a two decades old stalemate by raising fuel economy standards from 25 to 35 miles per gallon in ten years, saving consumers billions and helping keep our country competitive.”

“Since the Oil Embargo of 1973, through 17 Congresses and seven different presidents, energy efficiency and energy independence have generated a lot of talk and a lot of promises, but not enough concerted, determined action.  Increasing fuel economy standards for automobiles is the single most important step we can take to improve energy efficiency and reduce our reliance on foreign oil, while also saving consumers billions at the pump.  It is time for this Congress to stop talking and start doing by passing the strong fuel economy standards called for in this legislation,” said Senator Collins.

“I’ve said as we write new fuel economy standards, we must find a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and clean up our environment but do so in a way that will not cripple our struggling domestic auto manufacturers,” said Senator Carper. “The Commerce Committee bill is a step in the right direction, giving the auto industry more flexibility to reach new fuel economy standards, while also providing needed incentives to develop new types of alternative fuels for the cars of tomorrow.”

“American consumers deserve relief and increasing fuel economy standards is one major way to help them,” said Senator Klobuchar. “Households who increase their average fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon would save 22% of their current expenditures on fuel, and those increasing their average fuel economy to 40 miles per gallon would save around 30 %. Our Commerce Committee’s work brings us one step closer to producing these real savings and real solutions.”

“Gas prices continue to skyrocket” Senator Smith said.  “Consumers are demanding fuel efficient vehicles and American ingenuity is up to the task. If we do not make changes now, we risk damage to the family budget, the economy and our national security.”

Major Provisions of the “Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act of 2007
(as included in the Senate energy package)

Here’s what the bill does:

  • Increases fleetwide average fuel economy for all cars, SUVs, and trucks by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years – or from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by Model Year 2020.
  • Provides for an additional 4 percent annual increase until 2030.
  • Requires the Department of Transportation to improve the fuel economy of medium and heavy duty trucks over a 20 year period, for the first time addressing this sector of concern.
  • Gives automakers the time and flexibility needed to meet these new fuel economy standards. Allows the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) flexibility to divide vehicles into classes based on their attributes, such as size or weight.
    • Each class of vehicles – as determined by NHTSA – will be required to meet the new fuel economy standard for that particular class to achieve the fleetwide average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. This means that each automaker will no longer be required to average the fuel economy for the entire fleet of cars they produce. This creates a level playing field for all automakers.
    • From 2011 to 2019, NHTSA must set fuel economy standards that are the maximum feasible, and ratchet these standards up at a reasonable rate.
    • By 2020, the total average must meet 35 miles per gallon, unless NHTSA determines – based on clear and convincing evidence – that the achievement of the 35 miles per gallon standard would not be cost-effective for the nation.
  • Provides manufacturers the flexibility to meet standards using credit system. The Ten-in-Ten bill gives automakers flexibility to meet the standard by establishing a fuel economy credit trading program.
    • NHTSA would design, run, and operate this credit trading program.
    • The credit trading program gives an automaker a financial incentive to exceed the standards and, if it does, it can:
    • Sell credits to another automaker, and profit from having a more fuel efficient fleet; or
    • Bank its credits for up to five years – insurance if they fall below the standard in a later year.
    • And if an automaker cannot meet the standards in a given year, they can purchase credits, used banked credits, or borrow from projected surpluses from future years.
  • This provision was strongly recommended by the National Academy of Sciences in 2002.
  • Protects commercial and work truck fleets while improving fuel efficiency standards.
    • For the first time ever, directs NHTSA to develop a structure to evaluate and establish fuel efficiency standards for commercial trucks that increase at the maximum feasible rate. 
    • Removes work trucks weighing up to 10,000 pounds, such as those used in the agricultural and construction trades, from fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars and light trucks.
  • Other provisions:
    • Creates a labeling program to inform consumers of which vehicles are the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. 
    • Requires the federal government to purchase the most fuel efficient cars practicable.
    • Provides funding for research and development for fuel saving technologies and grants to expand the availability of alternative fuels from moneys raised by fuel economy civil penalties.
    • Requires NHTSA to issue a final rule by 2018 to create safety standards that address the differences between the largest and smallest vehicles.


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