A Senate panel has approved a plan to increase CAFE standards to 35 mpg by 2020, with a 4% increase every year until 2030. That's almost 40% higher than today's standard for cars, which is 27.5 mpg . Currently, vans and trucks must get at least 22.2 mpg.

This bill, however, has a long, long, long way to go before any of its components are agreed upon. With this bill, work trucks and semis would have to meet CAFE standards for the first time -- but requirements can't be changed for those vehicles without first conducting a federal study. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan said he'll filibuster this kind of legislation since it's unfair to the Big Three. Senators Ted Stevens (AK) and Trent Lott (MS) wonder if it's fair and how it will affect trucking. Senator Bill Nelson (FL) wants the 2020 standard to be 40 mpg. John Kerry (MA) wants 31 mpg by 2015 and 35 by 2020. The Big Three and Toyota don't like it because they think it's unattainable. The UAW doesn't like it because they say it will cause closures and job losses -- even though those have been rampant with the standards we already have. Environmentalists don't like it because it's weaker than President Bush's proposal and there aren't more alternative energy provisions. David Friedman of the Union of Concerned Scientists likens the bill to Swiss cheese because of its loopholes, while Senator Daniel Inouye (HI) thinks it's fair as is.

The bill will go before the full Senate in June. Democrats expect it to pass. Our Magic 8-ball seems to think otherwise. . . .

[Source: Autoblog Green via AP]



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