- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 1, 2006

The Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Suburban, the Dodge Ram. The American automobile has been, for more than a century, one of the most recognizable symbols of our nation’s first-class technological ingenuity.

But today, these iconic cars are in danger of becoming relics of a past age. Why?

Today, when you talk about the future of the automobile, you talk about pioneering hybrid technology, like that powering the Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight or the Ford Explorer Hybrid.

As global demand for oil continues to grow, fuel efficiency is rapidly becoming an important influence in the global auto industry — and the United States has been slow to respond.

So, the time has come for Congress to impose the standards that will prompt U.S. automakers to build a cleaner fleet.

We believe that the single most important step that can be taken is to close the SUV loophole and increase the outdated fuel economy standards for passenger cars and SUVs.

The technology to increase fuel economy already exists. We just need the political will.

That’s why we’ve joined with a bipartisan Senate coalition to call for increasing average fuel economy standards by 10 miles in 10 years.

Specifically, we’re calling for raising the average fuel economy of all cars and SUVs to 35 miles per gallon by model year 2017.

This would save 2.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2025. That’s the same amount of oil we currently import from the Persian Gulf on a daily basis.

Reducing our reliance on volatile foreign oil sources is a critical national security priority. The United States consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil but only has 3 percent of the world’s reserves. The United States consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil per day, and that number is expected to grow to about 28 million barrels per day by 2030.

Most of that oil is used to fuel cars, trucks and SUVs. And drivers are paying the price.

The cost of filling a tank of gas today has risen to the point where consumers are paying upwards of $60 a tank in many parts of the United States.

This is making a real impact in the daily lives of Americans — today, 78 percent of drivers say that want real fuel efficiency for the vehicle they buy, and they’re willing to pay for it.

Raising CAFE standards to 35 miles per gallon would save drivers as much as $2,500 dollars over the life of the vehicle — more than enough to recoup the cost of more efficient vehicles.

Experts at the National Academies of Science agree that this can be achieved without reducing size, weight or performance of vehicles on the road. They also emphasize that raising fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon would be also a cost-effective approach to reducing our reliance on foreign oil and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

So, not only is this proposal good for consumers and our national security interests, but raising CAFE standards is also good for the environment.

It is estimated that a 70 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by the middle of the 21st century is required to stabilize the Earth’s climate. In order to do so, we need to take strong steps toward reducing the amount of emissions from our cars, trucks and SUVs.

Raising fuel economy standards to 35 mpg by 2025 would eliminate 420 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions — the equivalent of taking 90 million cars (or 75 million cars and light trucks) off the road in one year.

This would be a good first step to protecting our environment.

We believe that this is important legislation to pass now.

This legislation represents a realistic, achievable solution. It represents the best opportunity to develop a bipartisan consensus in presenting a bill that ultimately will benefit consumers and automakers alike, protect the environment, and secure our nation’s energy future.

When it comes to the fuel economy of America’s cars and trucks, we simply must do better — and this bill puts us on that path.

Dianne Feinstein is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from California. Olympia Snowe is a Republican member of the Senate from Maine.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide