Senator Feinstein Urges Commerce Committee Support for Legislation to Raise Fuel Economy Standards for All Passenger Cars and Trucks to 35 Miles Per Gallon by Model Year 2019
May 03 2007
Washington, DC – At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today urged Committee support for legislation to raise fuel economy standards by 10 miles per gallon (mpg) over 10 years, or from 25 to 35 mpg by Model Year 2019.
The following is the prepared statement of Senator Feinstein for the Commerce Committee hearing:
“Mr. Chairman, I am struck by the remarkable consensus in this Committee, in the Congress, and even from the President, on what must be done to improve our nation’s fuel economy.
- The Ten in Ten bill, which Senator Snowe and I have introduced with strong bipartisan support (Chairman Inouye, Senators Durbin, Kerry, Boxer, Bill Nelson, Cantwell, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Menendez, Collins, Reed, Leahy, Sanders, Dodd, and Akaka), would raise CAFE standards to 35 miles per gallon by Model Year 2019. This is a 40 percent increase over 10 years.
- Similar increases are contained in virtually every CAFE bill proposed this year, including bills offered by Senators Dorgan and Craig, and by Senators Obama and Lugar.
- And in the President’s State of the Union speech, he set a goal for America to conserve up to 8.5 billion gallons of gasoline through better fuel economy by 2017. What would it take to achieve this goal? An increase in fuel economy for cars and trucks of about 4 percent per year, which is again in line with our bill.
What is causing this remarkable agreement on how much we can accomplish through CAFE legislation?
The simple truth is this: national security imperatives, global warming concerns, and public opinion are all aligned in favor of building a cleaner fleet.
So, it’s time to pass legislation that would raise CAFE standards to 35 miles per gallon.
By 2025, this simple step would:
- Reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from U.S. cars and light trucks by 18 percent below projected levels, the equivalent of taking 50 million of today’s cars and light trucks off the road in one year; and
- Save 2.1 million barrels of oil per day, or nearly the amount of oil we import today from the Persian Gulf.
A recent poll published by the New York Times and CBS News shows that more than 90 percent of Americans favor legislation requiring more fuel efficient vehicles.
The Ten-in-Ten bill is also fair to the domestic auto industry. Detroit and its allies have suggested that the bill would require each manufacturer to produce vehicles averaging 35 miles per gallon. In other words, General Motors, Toyota, and Honda would all have to make enough high-mileage cars by model year 2020 to offset their lower-mileage light trucks and average 35 miles per gallon.
However, this is not the way the bill works. Instead, it is the entire nationwide fleet of cars and light trucks sold in this country that must average 35 miles per gallon. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will set size-based mileage standards, depending on the mix of vehicles in the U.S. fleet.
Companies that manufacture mostly larger vehicles will only have to meet the lower mileage standards for these vehicles. To be sure, every type of vehicle, from the smallest to the largest, will have to improve its mileage to the extent possible.
Critically, however, the National Highway Traffic Administration will retain the discretion to decide the most appropriate combination of mileage improvements for each vehicle class that will get the nation-wide average to 35 miles per gallon. Neither American nor foreign manufacturers will be especially advantaged or disadvantaged; each manufacturer will have to improve the vehicles it makes to meet the standards that the agency sets.
The bill is fair to American manufacturers. And it is also fair to the car-buying public. Now, some have expressed concerns that drivers would have to choose between fuel efficiency and acceleration, safety, or space.
But, experts at the National Academy of Sciences have shown that we can increase the fuel economy of mid-size SUV’s to 34 miles per gallon; large cars to 39 miles per gallon, mini-vans to nearly 37 miles per gallon, and large pickups close to 30.
If you average the improvements that the National Academy of Sciences considers achievable over the next decade for these different size classes of passenger cars and light trucks, we can get to 37 miles per gallon for the U.S. fleet, even better than the 35 miles per gallon required by my Ten-in-Ten bill.
All this can be done without sacrificing performance or safety.
In conclusion – the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold today is lower than it was two decades ago.
The Ten in Ten bill offers a straightforward and sensible solution. It can be done with existing technology. It would satisfy the public’s desire for a more fuel efficient fleet. And it would reduce carbon emissions and limit America’s reliance on foreign oil.
In 1963, President Kennedy set a national goal of putting a man on the moon within the decade. Technology, paired with American ingenuity and hard work, achieved this historic objective.
Today, we’re here advocating a slightly less lofty goal – raising fuel economy standards by 40 percent over the next decade. I have every faith that this too can become reality.
The time for legislation is long overdue. I ask the Committee for your support of this bill.