About 200 (or 275 depending on who you believe) UAW members from area Ford and Chrysler plants rallied at Federal Plaza in Chicago in support of the Hill-Terry fuel economy bill. That particular only calls for increases up to 32-35 mpg by 2022 rather than as soon as 2018 as required by other proposals. The Hill-Terry proposal also separates the requirements for cars and trucks giving the latter a break on the requirements.
This was the first in a series of rallies to be held around the country by automakers and autoworkers in support of more lax standards. Unfortunately not even the Hill-Terry bill proposes any changes in the fuel tax structure to maintain a minimum price for petroleum based fuels. Maintaining a minimum price level would help to drive demand for more efficient vehicles.
[Source: Ford, Chrysler]
Hill-Terry Bill – H.R. 2927 – Gives Consumers More MPGs
CHICAGO, August 16 – Hundreds of autoworkers, business people and government officials from the greater Chicago area demonstrated this morning at Federal Plaza, urging federal lawmakers to protect jobs and consumer choice by supporting the bi-partisan federal legislation introduced by Representatives Baron Hill (D-IN) and Lee Terry (R-NE) to raise fuel economy in cars and trucks.
"The Hill-Terry bill – H.R. 2927 – is a sensible approach to improved fuel economy," said Mark Haasis, Illinois Legislative Director of the United Auto Workers. "It calls for tough standards but it recognizes that cars and trucks have different roles and should be regulated separately when it comes to fuel economy.
Congressman Don Manzullo, one of the co-sponsors of H.R. 2927 from Illinois 16th District added, "H.R. 2927 is a win-win bill – it gives consumers more miles per gallon and a continued variety of vehicle choices. The bill also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on foreign oil but without putting thousands of American jobs at risk and pricing millions of consumers out of the new vehicle market."
The Hill-Terry bill, cosponsored by a bipartisan group of over 160 congressional representatives, requires increases in car and truck standards such that the total fleet falls between 32 to 35 miles-per-gallon (mpg) by model year 2022 and requires cars and trucks to be treated separately. The bill would require automakers to improve fuel economy in all sizes of vehicles – from the smallest subcompacts to the largest SUVs and pickups – and it would provide funding for advanced technologies, such as high-strength, lightweight materials, plug-in hybrids, clean diesel engines, and hydrogen fuel cells.
"Everyone wants better fuel economy and the auto companies are committed to be part of the solution to make that happen," said Anthony Hoskins, plant manager of the nearby Chicago Assembly Plant where the Ford Taurus, Taurus X, and Mercury Sable are built. "We've already brought many fuel-saving technologies to the marketplace – from hybrids to clean diesels to flex-fuel vehicles – and more are on the way. Hill-Terry sustains this progress, rather than diverting resources in order to meet unreasonable legislation from Washington."
Mr. Hoskins was referring to a Senate-passed bill that would call for a 35 mpg average – cars and trucks combined – by 2020. Independent studies have indicated that the Senate bill would raise vehicle prices, eliminate jobs and damage the U.S. economy. A Lehman Brothers study concluded that Ford, Chrysler and GM would have to cut production of their large pickups and SUVs by 60%.
Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce said the Senate bill, if enacted into law, would have a "ripple effect," damaging businesses, large and small, throughout the region. "The U.S. auto industry is the bedrock of this area's economy. If the production of vehicles and components built here is cut, you hurt thousands of businesses, from the assembly plant itself all the way down to the corner bakery."
"Every congressional representative in our area should understand why we need the Hill-Terry bill to become law," said Frederic Brereton, Mayor of Belvidere, IL, where Chrysler's Belvidere Assembly Plant builds the 30-plus mile per gallon Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. "We need it so these good people can continue to build the outstanding vehicles that Americans want and need. It's high time we looked after the jobs and economic well being of the hard-working people of Belvedere and the greater Chicago region."
As evidence of recent progress to improve fuel economy, parked nearby the demonstration were several of the latest and most efficient vehicles to enter the marketplace: a Chrysler flex-fuel Town & Country minivan, and a Dodge Caliber built in Belvidere, Illinois; the Chicago-built Ford Taurus X, and a Ford Escape Hybrid; and a GM Saturn Aura Hybrid. Some consumers and local businesses also parked their light trucks at the rally to underscore the need for affordable full-sized work vehicles.