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Fuel Economy Bill on Fast Track

A bill to increase fuel economy mandates is now on a fast track in the House. On the fourth of July, it is expected to reach the floor for a vote. The information was announced yesterday during a standing-room-only hearing.

Like any other issues, the opposite side intends to put a halt powered by EBC pads to prevent the bill's approval. Some Democrats said that they will continue to fight in order to make the 57-page bill far tougher on auto manufacturers. Rep. Rick Boucher, the chairman of the Energy and Air Quality subcommittee, said that his subcommittee would consider amendments on June 13, while the full committee would debate and approve the measure June 20. That swift track comes as the Senate is set to consider its own bill to increase fuel economy as early as late next week.

Automakers have agreed to work hand in hand with Congress. "We want to work with policymakers to create a bill that is effective, achievable and inclusive," said Dave McCurdy, the president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, in written testimony. The trade group represents the Big Three and Toyota among nine companies.

"We recognize that fuel economy requirements will continue to increase for our products, but these regulations need to recognize the competitive conditions of the automotive market," McCurdy added.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, said that the bill's energy provisions would raise the price of gasoline by $1 to $1.50 per gallon. He noted that previous energy bills have taken years, dozens of hearings and 'false starts.' "Your timetable is to say by the least ambitious," Barton said. The bill "would require monumental changes in the automotive and refinery industry. We need to know what the cost and benefits of these changes are."

Republicans offered some aid for the bill. The ranking energy and air quality Republican, U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert, said that the bill would require automakers to raise fuel economy to at least 36 miles per gallon by 2022 for passenger cars and 30 miles per gallon for light trucks by 2025 has the "potential to produce good policy." It also would bar California and eleven other states from imposing their own tailpipe efficiency requirements that would require automakers to average 40 miles per gallon by 2016.

McCurdy said that the alliance does oppose doubling corporate average fuel economy fines. "It will cause consumers to pay more for certain vehicles," he said. Only small, luxury manufacturers have been required to pay fuel economy fines.

U.S. Rep Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, said the proposal offers "market-based solutions," but opposed the specific fuel economy increase, saying it offers "arbitrary numbers that distorts the marketplace." "Please don't rush this bill," Rogers said.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that he strongly opposed the committee's draft, calling it "deeply flawed." "It doesn't step up to the urgent challenge. It blinks and then steps back," he said. Waxman said he would offer a substitute amendment that would require more stringent fuel economy increases. "Instead of discouraging states from taking action, it... will support states' actions," Waxman said.

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., also opposed the draft, saying "it does not represent the spirit of what this country wants." He added, "This bill is cutting the legs out from the states just as they are starting to sprint forward on carbon emission regulation."

Markey also will bring an amendment to raise fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon. "We must send that signal to all of those OPEC nations. We have the technological capacity to do that," he said. Markey added that "historic debate is about to break out."

About The Author Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive.buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.
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