U.S. fuel-efficiency numbers get worse

What others say

Posted: Monday, February 10, 2003

President Bush's pledge to spend $1.2 billion to help develop more environmentally friendly cars is an excellent long-term investment for this country.

But his short-term plan to deal with gas-guzzling cars is lacking.

In his State of the Union speech, the president said the money would go to help bring hydrogen-powered cars to the market. Yet his idea does nothing to mitigate this fact: Despite technological advances, American vehicles are burning more gas than ever before, largely because of SUVs. These popular vehicles are classified as trucks, allowing their manufacturers to avoid the higher gasoline-mileage standards imposed on cars. As more sport utility vehicles hit the road, the nation's fuel efficiency numbers are actually getting worse. And that doesn't help reduce either greenhouse gas emissions that pollute the air or our dependence on foreign oil.

That trend must be reversed. Regrettably, the Bush administration has put forth only a modest proposal. It has announced light trucks, including SUVs, will have to gradually improve their average fuel economy by a mere 1.5 miles per gallon over a five-year period. That means an increase in fuel efficiency from the current 20.7 miles per gallon to 22.2 mpg by the 2007 model year. The standard for cars, 27.5 mpg, would not change.

That proposal is inadequate. ...

U.S. automakers have to start changing their ways. Most of the fuel-efficient cars on the market today aren't even made by American-based companies. Congress can help, too, by providing more tax breaks for corporations using cleaner technologies and less for those relying on fossil fuels that pollute the air. ...

-- The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal - Feb. 3

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