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A recent trip to Europe, or most anywhere else in the world, gives an American a chance to see a drastic difference in motor vehicles. SUVs are almost non-existant, families use what we call compact cars, and even pickup trucks and delivery vans are smaller. Every vehicle on the road is smaller and more efficient. There is no need to upsize to an SUV in an effort to protect oneself from a collision with another SUV. Average mileage is considerably higher, and legislation mandating clean diesel fuel encourages the use of these more efficient engines.
Our waste of limited energy resources for motor vehicles and other uses that support our lifestyles of excessive consumption is well known throughout the world. Perhaps this is not the chief cause of terrorism against Americans, but thumbing our noses at critics of this excess is certainly not helping our image. Auto lobbies have frozen the CAFE (Corporate Average Fleet Economy) standards for mileage. Early in 2002 our government ended an ambitious program to increase fleet mileage in the near future, and replaced it with a program to promote hydrogen fueled vehicles, which, due to lack of infrastructure, are at least 10 years away from widespread use. We've gone as far as going to war to protect our energy interests. An automotive industry that can produce a 50 miles per gallon Honda Civic can easily exceed the current CAFE standards, which require an average of 27.5 MPG (Miles Per Gallon) for cars and light trucks, and only 20.7 MPG for light trucks (including minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickup trucks). After the SUV boom of the 90's, average fuel economy in the U.S. is worse in 2002 than it was a decade ago.
What can you do to help bring America in line with what's happening in the rest of the world?
When it's time to replace your current vehicle, consider whether you really need that guzzling SUV, minivan, or pickup truck. Check out a hybrid Honda or Toyota, or one of the new generation of clean diesel powered cars. Show the American auto industry that there is still a demand for smaller, more efficient vehicles.
There are several bills and amendments in the House and Senate about ending the freeze on the CAFE standards. The automotive lobbies have succeeded in freezing the standards, with the claim that smaller, fuel efficient vehicles would be unsafe on the same roads as gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks. Improved fleet standards would make all vehicles smaller, eliminating that argument. Write to your legislators about amendments to Senate bill 1766, the Energy Policy Act of 2002. H.R. 1815 and S.804 is a bill to amend title 49, United States Code, for phased increases in standards for light trucks and automobiles, and for the Federal fleet of vehicles.
107th Congress - 2nd session (2002)
There are several pieces of legislation related to U.S. energy policy. I'm still working on sorting out what is what, and what is happening with each of them.
11 February 2002 - The ASME's (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Energy Committee sent a letter to Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bingaman providing comments on the bill. In the letter, the ASME Energy Committee emphasized its belief that the U.S. needs a well-defined focused National Energy Policy, and expressed a concern about the decline in federal budgets agency-wide for energy R&D.
14 February 2002 - Senator John McCain of Arizona, senior Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced a plan that would require cars and light trucks to average 36 miles per gallon by 2016.
15 February 2002 - A Democratic plan introduced by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and the committee chairman, Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, would require a 35 mpg average by 2013.
18 February 2002 - Later this week, Senate Democrats plan to bring S. 1766, the Energy Policy Act of 2002, to the Senate floor. Given the many contentious amendments such as ANWR and increasing CAFâ standards, it is unlikely that a final vote will be taken on the bill before the Senate adjourns for the Washington's Birthday District Work Period, February 18-22. Consideration will resume when the Senate returns. S. 1766 was introduced last year, but was not considered on the Senate floor. The House version, H.R. 4, was passed in June 2001. The text of the Senate bill can be found on the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee's web site. The House bill can be found at the Library of Congress's web site.
DIVISION C - DIVERSIFYING ENERGY DEMAND AND IMPROVING EFFICIENCY TITLE VIII FUELS AND VEHICLES Subtitle A - CAFE Standards and Related Matters Subtitle B - Alternative and Renewable Fuels Subtitle C - Federal Reformulated Fuels Subtitle D - Additional Fuel Efficiency Measures
Amendment sought to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standard for automobiles and light trucks to 27.5 mpg beginning in 2007, and provide incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. Sponsor: Rep Boehlert, Sherwood L.- Latest Major Action: 8/1/2001 House amendment not agreed to
H.R. 1815 and S.804 : A bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to require phased increases in the fuel efficiency standards applicable to light trucks; to required fuel economy standards for automobiles up to 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight; to raise the fuel economy of the Federal fleet of vehicles, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Feinstein, Dianne- Latest Major Action: 5/1/2001 Referred to Senate committee Committees: Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Light-duty diesels use 30-60% less fuel than gasoline engines of similar power. Some of the most advanced models are attaining astonishing fuel efficiency, such as the European-market Audi A2 that achieves 87 mpg on the highway. Use of the latest diesel technology has nearly eliminated the noise and smoke that many Americans remember from early diesel cars. With the application of advanced technologies such as direct injection lean-burn combustion, particulate traps and catalytic converters, diesel vehicles are now a clean and quiet alternative to less efficient gasoline powered cars. A milestone in the continuous improvement of diesel technology was the introduction of low-sulfur diesel fuel in 1993 for on-highway vehicles. The new fuel has 5-7 times less sulfur than the fuel in use prior to 1993, (from 2500-3500 ppm sulfur to 500 ppm maximum). EPA has proposed setting more stringent quality requirements for diesel fuel. The Agency expects that the new standards would enable advanced catalyst technologies needed to achieve the most recently proposed "Tier 2" emission standards for lighter duty vehicles. Diesel fuel used for nonroad applications has sulfur levels of roughly 3300 ppm.