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Automakers Prepare for House Fight Over Mileage


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An interesting battle is shaping up in the week ahead as a Senate bill passed last Thursday night moves over to the House for debate. If passed into law the measure, which requires automakers meet average fleet mileage figures of 35 mpg by 2020 -- a 10 mpg improvement over today's standards, would be the first change in fuel mileage standards in over 20 years.

The automakers are lining up against this measure:

"Major changes are still needed to make this bill achievable," Ford Motor Co. government affairs Vice President Bruce Andrews said. [...]

Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. called the efficiency provision in Senate energy legislation approved last Thursday a "very aggressive target" and "extreme."

And the unions are lining up against it as well:

Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers, which represents hourly employees at Ford, General Motors Corp., and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, said the Senate bill threatened jobs.

This coming Wednesday the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by automaker ally Rep. John Dingell (D) of Michigan, will prepare its energy bill for consideration by the full House. Currently Dingell's effort does not include an increase in gas mileage requirements.

The current base principles and tactics of the Democrats and Republicans with regards to our energy policy is coming down to two basic policy differences with respect to President Bush's call to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil. The Republicans want to produce more oil by opening up new areas for drilling, as well as putting our nuclear energy program back on track. The Democrats want to develop alternate sources of energy and have the oil companies pay for that development.

But both sides of the aisle need to realize that increasing the efficiency of our nation's energy use is a categorical imperative we cannot ignore. The very fact that it's been 20 years since the last increase in fleet mileage averages is evidence enough that an increase in mileage requirements, even one as large as this, is way overdue.

Our nation is paying a very steep price, figuratively and literally, for our addiction to foreign oil. Decreasing our gasoline usage by raising the bar on automaker's mileage requirements is a must-do initiative that needs to survive the efforts of special interest groups like the automakers and the automotive workers unions.

This bill's quick passage in the Senate shows they are recognizing this fact. Let's hope the House moves forward on this front as well.

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Comments (6)


This ia a situation begging for a Truman-esque leader to inject himself into the process and say "Hey, this will benefit all Americans by lessening our dependence on imported oil. Find a way to make it happen."

Given that we have a decider, not a leader, this most likely won't happen, and once again powerful interests will ignore what is best for the country for their own benefit.

Paul Hamilton:

Can't add a thing to what Groucho said beyond the fact that the corporations, not the good of the people, are determining the policy.

civil behavior:

35 mpg by 2020?

It's a joke.

Not even close to enough to ramp back the emissions. Not even frickin close.

Laughter emitting from anyone who takes seriously the state of the climate.

Denial from those who stnad to lose a thin dime if we dry up our oil habit.

Americans have really begin to repulse me.


that's okay, cb, you repulse me, so we're even.

interesting thing about climate prediction and change. there is some really interesting research going on that seems to indicate that by 2037 we'll be entering a period of low solar emissions, effectively cooling the earth.

so when that time comes around, should we lower CARE to 15mpg and put a cap in place?

seriously folks, nobody can say with any certainty what all the factors are for climate patterns, nor can they say what percentage any factor actually has to it either. anyone who says otherwise is lying.

do i think we should reduce our use of oil? hell yes. i think it would be beneficial to use renewable energy where possible. i think nuclear energy is something that we need to take another look at. i'd love to not be sending my dollars to idiotic regimes like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. gas and oil do pollute the environment.

these are all good reasons. no need to spread misinformation about what causes global warming in order to make the argument.

and i question the right of the us government to regulate how efficient a vehicle i want to buy is. g* d* nanny state.

Paul Hamilton:

The reason the government should have the authority to regulate mileage is because the availability of energy is a matter of national security. The only reason we give a rodent's behind about the mideast is because there's oil there. So over and above the obscene cost we're all paying for gas, we have the additional burden of Bush's war, the billions we send to Israel every year, and all the rest.

If we were energy-independent, all that would be gone and the money used to better the lives of people right here in the USA.


Our nation, in a global context, pays a very reasonable price for oil produced domestically or purchased as import. We pay a somewhat higher price for refined oil because politicians in this country will not allow the EPA to issue RCRA Part A or B permits to construct new refineries to produce gasoline.

As to Lee's "figurative and literal price" I assume he means in the cost of our troops lives in Iraq. And Paul, your complaint about our aid to Israel should be put in perspective: Some reports list it at $2.5 billion. For the sake of argument, let's multiply that times 5 to cover the anti Semitic conspiracy crowd. That's $12,500,000,000.

Exxon and Shell spend more than that on exploration and discovery every year. Fuel standards are not a relevant argument over foreign aid to Israel, our foreign policy in Iraq or clean air standards. Fuel standards are all about centralized control over private U S corporate auto production, which is an extension of Kyoto.

Paul, "the billions we send to Israel every year", has nothing to do with the price of crude oil. Lee is closer to the truth but for the wrong reason: The U S is not addicted to foreign oil; we simply have chosen, for purely political reasons, not to exploit our own reserves. Instead, we import.

The reason why we are in Iraq is to make sure that enemies of our country do not gain control over those reserves. There is precedent for this. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor what did the US do? From a strategic, global perspective we invaded North Africa. Go figure.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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