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Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Gas Mileage Standards Upcoming in U.S. Senate

CAFE standards have resulted in more dangerous automobiles

WASHINGTON, June 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Senate will be debating energy legislation this week and next. One provision, requiring huge increases in motor vehicle fuel economy (CAFE) standards is a bad idea.

While all Americans want better fuel economy, cheaper fuel and less dependence on imported oil, the 30-year history of CAFE has not accomplished them. Our energy dependence doubled under CAFE mandates. There are likely to be significant lifestyle tradeoffs if these extreme proposals pass. Credible studies have shown CAFE standards enacted in the 1970s caused thousands of occupant fatalities because of downsized passenger cars. Now, the same could happen to light trucks -- pickups, SUVs, vans and minivans.

USA Today's expose, "Death by the Gallon" analyzed the various studies and concluded: "46,000 people have died because of a 1970s-era push for greater fuel efficiency that has lead to smaller cars."

Senator Harry Reid's bill would mandate that all cars and light trucks get an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 and increases of 4 percent every year to 2030. This would drive up vehicle costs by thousands of dollars (more than you will recoup through savings at the gas pump); cause more downsizing that leads to more fatalities; and reduce passenger space and hauling and towing capacity. Here are a few examples of those affected:

-- Families with several children and active lifestyles.

-- Carpoolers that carry more than five passengers.

-- Outdoor enthusiasts that like to go camping, or tow a boat or trailer. (There are more than 20 million things in the U.S. that need to be towed and only 1 percent of passenger cars have the ability to tow anymore because of CAFE.)

-- Home improvement supplies might take several trips or may not fit in smaller vehicles.

-- Businesses like construction, farmers, ranchers, florists, etc. would be devastated if their "workhorses" are too small, underpowered and cost too much to replace.

Are we going to bet our energy future AGAIN on a program that has failed to deliver? The real solution is reasonable increases in CAFE combined with greater incentives for alternative fuels and making them available and convenient to all motorists.

Source: Barry McCahill, President of SUV Owners of America, and former U.S. Department of Transportation official; Ron DeFore, Communications Director, SUV Owners of America, and former senior U.S. Department of Transportation official

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