Eight U.S. Senators recently introduced a bill that seeks to increase the fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks. Called the Fuel Economy Reform Act, the legislation would raise standards by 4 percent each year starting after model year 2009. Standards have not been raised for passenger cars since 1985, and this bill could reduce the country’s gasoline consumption by nearly half a trillion gallons by 2028, according to Illinois Senator Barack Obama, one of the bill’s sponsors.

“It is clear that the Achilles’ heel of the most powerful country on earth is the oil we import and cannot live without,” Obama said.

When purchasing a car, a sticker on the vehicle informs the buyer of its fuel efficiency.

When purchasing a car, a sticker on the vehicle informs the buyer of its fuel efficiency (miles per gallon). Credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Fuel Economy Reform Act would require the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to implement regular annual increases in fuel economy, amounting to approximately a 1-mile-per-gallon increase per year. The revised standards would be based on characteristics such as the vehicle’s size and weight. It is estimated that passenger vehicles and light trucks account for more than 60 percent of the oil used in the transportation sector.

Manufacturer efforts to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles will be aided by the bill, which provides tax incentives for the automakers to adapt their parts and assembly plants. Many see the increase in fuel economy standards, and thus the increase in production of fuel-efficient vehicles, as advantageous to domestic automobile manufacturers because they would have the opportunity to more aggressively compete with foreign-produced hybrids, flex-fuel vehicles, and fuel-efficient vehicles.

“We need to act now if we want to prevent an even greater energy crisis in the future,” said Obama. “This bipartisan, common-sense approach will finally harness the technology we already have to save Americans money at the pump and save America from a dependence on the world’s most unstable, undemocratic regimes.”




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