Support Builds For Automakers’ Fuel Efficiency Plan

Broad group of manufacturers, business interests and labor unions support an alternative plan to increase fuel efficiency standards.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Automakers have joined forces with a broad group of manufacturers, business interests and labor unions to build support for an alternative plan to increase fuel efficiency standards.
Reps. Baron Hill, D-Ind., and Lee Terry, R-Neb., said Tuesday they had more than 100 co-sponsors for their proposal, backed by automakers such as General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., that would require cars and trucks to meet efficiency rules of 32 to 35 miles per gallon by 2022.
The auto industry opposes a more stringent measure in the House, authored by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., that would require vehicles to meet 35 mpg by 2018. The Senate has already approved an energy bill that would make carmakers reach 35 mpg by 2020.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Hill and Terry said their alternative would push the industry to produce more fuel efficient vehicles without sacrificing jobs and consumer choice of vehicles.
''We need to make sure that we don't lose American jobs,'' Hill said.
Environmental groups and others dismissed that notion, saying consumers are seeking more fuel-efficient vehicles and the fuel savings from the Hill-Terry bill would be modest.
A study released Tuesday by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute found that improved fuel efficiency standards similar to Markey's bill would give Detroit's automakers additional market share and improved profits.
The industry countered that the study did not take into account upfront costs and contradicted reports that substantial increases in fuel efficiency rules would cost the industry billions of dollars.
The lawmakers were joined by leaders with the United Auto Workers, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, who said families needed roomy, safe vehicles. The AFL-CIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce also support the plan.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had told him that ''she favors the course which I have indicated,'' delaying consideration of the fuel economy proposals until September as part of a comprehensive review of climate change legislation.
In a statement clarifying his comments late Tuesday, Dingell said he knew Pelosi ''is keeping all options on the table and I respect her decision.''
Dingell, who pledged support for the Hill-Terry bill, said he was hopeful the House would move an energy package ''free of great controversy'' next week before the August recess.
Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the speaker had ''not ruled anything out'' on the energy bill and whether it will include fuel efficiency requirements. The energy bill is expected to be considered next week.
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