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E-M:/ FW: Sierra Club Response to Bush 's Call for Authority on Fuel Economy



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <Anne.Woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      Contact:
28 April 2006                              Josh Dorner
			                         202.675.2384

     Sierra Club Response to Bush's Call for Authority on Fuel Economy
   Statement of Daniel F. Becker - Director, Sierra Club Global Warming
                                  Program

"The biggest single step we can take toward saving money at the gas pump
and cutting America's oil dependence is to make our cars and trucks go
farther on a gallon of gas.  I would love to believe that President Bush
has finally seen the light on this, but his embrace of CAFE miles per
gallon standards is more an evasion than an epiphany.

"The President is claiming that he needs Congressional authority to set
higher fuel economy standards for passenger cars.  In reality, like Dorothy
in Oz, he has had this authority all along but refused to use it.  When
given the chance, this administration has time and time again failed to
make meaningful improvements in fuel economy.  In 2003, the Bush
administration proposed a mere 1.2 miles per gallon increase in light truck
fuel economy CAFE standards over three years.  Again, less than a month
ago, the administration unveiled fuel economy standards that by its own
admission will only save two weeks worth of oil by 2011.

"The technology exists today to make all new vehicles average 40 miles per
gallon within ten years.  Taking this step would save the average driver
over $5,000 over the lifetime of their vehicle, even after accounting for
the added cost of the fuel-saving technology.  At the same time, raising
fuel economy standards would save 4 million barrels of oil per day--an
amount equal to what America currently imports from the entire Persian Gulf
and could ever get out of the Arctic Refuge, combined.

"Instead of a real commitment to increasing America's fuel economy, this is
an effort by the Bush administration and its allies in Congress to detract
attention from the other pieces of their energy plan, such as drilling in
the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and waiving clean air standards for oil
refineries. They are even considering offering an insulting $100 tax rebate
that basically pays Americans to look the other way while they perpetuate
our oil addiction and pander to Big Oil companies already raking in record
profits.

"In another effort to evade discussion of the real problem--our dangerous
oil addiction--some Members of Congress have claimed that we wouldn't have
high gas prices today if we'd drilled in the Arctic years ago.  The facts
tell us a different story.  In reality, Arctic drilling would destroy a
pristine wildlife refuge yet would only save us about a penny a gallon at
the pump in 20 years.  By contrast, had we raised CAFE standards to 40
miles per gallon in 1990, we'd be using half the gas we are today.


BACKGROUND ON THE ADMINISTRATION'S AUTHORITY TO SET PASSENGER CAR FUEL
ECONOMY STANDARDS

In 1975, when Congress first enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy
Standards (CAFE) it set passenger car fuel economy standards at 27.5 miles
per gallon.  In addition, the statute gave the Department of Transportation
authority to raise passenger car standard beyond 27.5 mpg in future years,
subject to disapproval be either House of Congress (49 U.S.C. 32902(2)).
Since the date of enactment, the Supreme Court ruled that this type of one
chamber "legislative veto" was unconstitutional (Immigration and
Naturalization Service v. Chadha, 103 S. Ct.2764 (1983))

As a result, while the legislative veto provision is invalid, this has no
effect on the rest of the CAFE statute and leaves the remaining provisions
fully operable.  This means that any administration retains the authority
to raise passenger car standards above 27.5 miles per gallon without any
need to seek approval from Congress.  Therefore, the Bush administration
has had the authority to raise passenger car CAFE standards since coming
into office, yet they have not used this authority.

The language of the statute can be found at:
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/Cfc_title49/ACTchap321-331.html#32902.

                                    ###

-----------------
Josh Dorner
Associate Press Secretary
Sierra Club
408 C Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
tel 202.675.2384
cel 202.679.7570
fax 202.547.6009


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