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Softer CAFE bill gains House support; debate delayed till September

November 17, 2010

At least 117 House members by July 26 had signed on to an alternative fuel economy increase backed by automakers, the NADA and other industry groups.

 

Supporters of House Resolution 2927, the so-called Hill-Terry CAFE alternative, won more time to build support for their version of fuel economy legislation days earlier, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed to put off the fuel economy debate until after Labor Day. 

The bill introduced by Baron Hill (D-Ind.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) would raise car-truck standards to average between 32 and 35 mpg by 2022. The Senate passed another bill that would raise the combined standard to 35 mpg by 2020.

 

Automakers and their allies are backing the milder House alternative. Terry said his bill "pushes the industry" without destroying jobs or eliminating vehicles consumers need and want. 

The NADA this month organized a "fly-in" that brought more than 100 dealers from across the country to Washington in support of H.R. 2927, and the association continues to urge dealers to contact their representatives to support the Hill-Terry CAFE alternative.

A rival, more aggressive bill sponsored by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), head of the House select global warming committee, would require automakers to hit 35 miles per gallon by 2018. That bill has 149 House co-sponsors. It takes 218 votes to win a majority in the House.

 

The Senate bill passed in late June hikes Corporate Average Fuel Economy by 40 percent to a combined 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for light trucks and passenger cars. Pelosi has said she supports the Senate bill. 

Dale Willey, NADA chairman, said: "Just because Congress sets a very agressive CAFE number doesn’t mean consumers will respond accordingly. If they can’t get the vehicle that meets their needs, they’ll keep the ones they have, and that would defeat the goal of increasing fuel economy."

 

The Senate bill also would lead to a "smart electricity grid" and has incentives to produce advance batteries and plug-in hybrids, along with renewable fuels like ethanol.

 

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